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Facing Your Parents - How To Come Out

For many lesbians it's incredibly difficult to come to terms with the fact that you are a lesbian. It can take months, if not years, to feel comfortable with the realisation that you are a woman that loves women. This is mainly due to the fact that society has ruled that heterosexual relationships are normal, and same-sex couples shouldn't exist. Gradually, the world is coming to terms with the fact that lesbians and gay men will be on this planet for the entirety of human existence, but, as we still struggle for equality and identity, being a lesbian can be hard to accept. You are trained throughout your childhood that you should have a boyfriend, get married, and make babies - but what if that just isn't for you?

Sometimes it can take years, a marriage, and children behind you for you to start the self-recognition process that, indeed, you are a lesbian. Some of you will realize at an early age that you are attracted to women rather than men and will never have to face the embarrassment of failed heterosexual relationships. Whenever this self-recognition takes place, this is known as the first phase of "Coming Out". The second phase is often termed as "Disclosure to Others", which means telling other people that you are a lesbian. Whilst it may be easy to tell your friends, one of the most daunting prospects that you will face is telling your parents. There are many ways that you can approach Coming Out to your parents, and the main methods are summarized below.

Blurt it Out

Although you have hidden your sexual identity from your parents, they are not stupid. They will begin to question why you have become distant, why you never tell them anything about your personal life, and why you only ever seem to have female "room mates" and never a boyfriend! No matter how much you try and lie, cheat, cover up and hide this will only make them more concerned. Concern for your child often ends up with parental confrontation, which can lead to arguments. This results in the "blurting it out" form of Coming Out to your parents, where the fact that you are a lesbian escapes from your lips before you have had time to bite your tongue.

This can often be the most shocking way of telling your parents as it's unplanned, emotional, and often a vicious or shouted statement. It will leave your parents in a state of shock, with no real explanation or understanding. If you can, try to avoid this method as it doesn't help your parents to accept your lesbianism, in fact, it may just anger them as it may ahve been said in the context to hurt them.

Phone Them or Write a Letter

If you really feel too chicken to face your parents when you tell them at first then you always have the option of phoning or writing them a letter. By making a phone call you can prepare what you are going to say; you can even have a pre - prepared speech if you want! This way you don't have to see the look on their faces, or feel the sudden chill that washes through the room when the word gay or lesbian escapes from your lips. However, this often leaves your parents in a state of limbo as once you put the phone down they will have question after question that they will want to ask you but may not feel comfortable doing that over the phone. It's best to follow up admitting you are a lesbian over the phone with a parent visit to test the waters and explain things further to them.

Writing a letter actually gives your parents something physical to pour over for days, if not weeks. You can express all of your thoughts, emotions, and fears through the power of the pen. Many of the disclosures, or explanations, you can make through a letter would be difficult to say on the phone, or face-to-face. A letter can give a lengthy and heartfelt account of your decision and what it means to you for them to accept you for who you are. However, it can often be a complete shock to unsuspecting parents who suddenly get a fifteen-page letter landing in their letterbox, so you may want to prepare them slightly by telling them you are writing to them to explain something. They may guess automatically, but, if not, at least they prepare themselves to receive some kind of news, even though they don't know what it is!

Face-to-Face Meeting

Often the best and most honorable forms of Coming Out to your parents is telling them face to face. It takes a lot of guts, but if you respect your parents and want them to accept you and continue to love you, then you owe them this much. Being present when you tell your mother and father can often be an emotional experience with lots of tears from Mom and quiet periods from Dad, but as you are present you can answer any of their questions and be there to support them emotionally. You can also take literature with you that gives advice to parents of lesbians and provides them with details of local support groups for parents. This may be all too much, too soon, but eventually they will thank you for being open, honest, and truthful with them.

Let Them Find Out For Themselves

If you really can't face the prospect of telling them yourself, then you can always opt for letting them discover your sexuality by accident. By not hiding physical possessions such as lesbian books, magazines, and partners nightclothes on your bed when they come visit, this will begin to trigger thoughts in their brain that you could be gay. They will eventually pop the question, saving you the trouble. Some parents may accept this form of communication; others will see it as being deviant. You have to judge for yourself whether this is the best approach to take.

At the end of the day, it's up to you which method you choose. It has to be something that you feel comfortable with, and you also have to do it at a time that is right for you. You also have to bear in mind your parents. If there are religious conflicts, or attitudes to life, that will make them find lesbianism difficult to accept you will have to bear this in mind and proceed with caution. You can never really gauge what your parent's reaction will be, no matter how open they are, but with time any parent that loves their child will come to terms with their sexuality.

You may never feel like telling your parents, but the true process of disclosure will never be finished until you do. You will always be hiding your real identity from the people that brought you into this world ... so go on, be brave! It could be the best thing you ever do in your life!


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