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Should I come out to my parents? (detailed)


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I'm trying to decide whether to come out to my parents and if so, when to do it.

For background, I was never interested in boys growing up and initially assumed I was a late bloomer or that the attraction would come eventually - which never happened. I first started realising I might be a lesbian two or three years ago (I'm 24 now) and I've only grown more certain over time. It was complicated because before that I briefly identified as asexual (just to myself, I never really told anyone) so I had to figure out that I am actually interested in relationships (with women) but that the sex part is maybe less important to me than it seems to be to other people. But I'm still curious about sleeping with women and it's something I want to try, I just think I'm inherently not a very sexual person.

Anyway. Obviously thanks to the pandemic my opportunity to test this out and get some experience has been limited, but I did briefly date a girl back in 2019 which fizzled out because we moved to different countries. In the last couple of weeks I've been seeing a girl I met on a dating app. I'm still trying to work out if I'm into her *for her* or if I'm just getting caught up in the whole terrifying and amazing concept of dating a woman, so that's linked to my current dilemma but also kind of secondary.

In terms of trying to decide whether to come out to my parents there are several different factors at play, so I'll do my best to run through them.

I've more or less come to terms with my sexuality, but I'm not super confident (yet) in expressing it. I've experimented a little with posting stuff that explicitly refers to it on my private instagram story (e.g. on international lesbian day) and that felt super validating, especially being able to control who saw it and limit it to people I knew would be supportive. Most of my close friends are aware at this point. But as I mentioned I'm still balancing this possible element of asexuality (plus lack of experience) which is unfortunately holding me back from being 100% sure about it. I'm quite a evidence-based person so for some reason I feel like I need to 'go all the way' with a woman to be completely sure. So I don't want to rush into something that I might regret in terms of coming out. But I'm also 99.9% sure that I will never be interested in men which I think says something.

Assuming I do decide to come out, I'm really not sure how my parents would take it. They aren't at all religious and I've never heard them say anything overtly homophobic. But they grew up in an era where it wasn't really something that was spoken about, I've also never heard them say anything in support of LGBT rights, and as far as I know they don't personally know any LGBT people. I think the whole thing is just alien to them because it's not something they are confronted by in their everyday life. So I think my being gay would come as a shock and it would take some time to process. We have a pretty good relationship in general but we don't really have deep or emotional conversations very often. Because of this I'm not necessarily expecting a hugely enthusiastic, over-the-top positive reaction, in my ideal scenario they would just say they support me, it's not a big deal and we move on. There is a small risk that they might react really badly, but I don’t have any specific reason to believe that apart from general 'worst case scenario thinking'. But of course people can surprise you - that possibility is always at the back of my mind and it would be devastating.

For this reason, I've planned how I would tell them (hypothetically). I would send an email just stating it in simple terms, but I want to do this when we're not living in the same house to give them time to process the information at a distance. I would prefer to have their reaction once they've taken some time to think it through and come up with something suitable to say, rather than their initial reaction. I would also rather not have to see them in person for a while afterwards.

The issue is that due to my living circumstances this opportunity is time-limited. Currently I live in the city, about 20 mins away from them but my accommodation is tied to my work which finishes next week so I'll be moving home for the summer. I'm planning to move out again in September (back to the same city) as I have another job starting then. So I'm not totally financially dependent on them as I have some savings, but I also will be living with them for the next couple of months at least which would obviously not be great if it doesn't go well. So, in practical terms that means that I have the next few days to send that email in order to allow enough time for them to process it. Alternatively I could leave it until September when I'll also not be living with them and have some distance again. But I just feel like there are a few different types of momentum in the current moment which are spurring me on.

Firstly there's this girl I've been seeing. Even if I'm not completely sure about her I think it has brought all this stuff to the fore again. If I don't come out, then in practice I wouldn't be able to pursue anything with her (if there turns out to be anything to pursue) because it would involve travelling to the city and I wouldn't be able to do that without my parents getting nosy. They aren't controlling exactly, it's just that they'll want to know who I'm seeing, and while I'm not above lying to them about my whereabouts it all seems a bit pointless, especially at 24 years old. Related to that, I think it would go down better if I could actually back up my claim of being a lesbian by saying I've been (recently) dating a girl rather than it being something abstract. I suspect that my mum's reaction in particular will be more disbelief than anything else, because she thinks she knows me very well and this will be a whole aspect of my personality that's new to her - so being able to truthfully say that I've actually been dating a girl would be helpful.

Second momentum factor is that it's pride month which is kind of the (hopefully) uplifting and positive background to all this. Third is the fact that we're coming out of the pandemic and it's getting to the point where I can potentially actually act on this stuff by dating - during lockdowns it obviously wasn't practical so I decided there was no point bringing any of it up and risking a bad reaction. On one hand I don't want to pressure myself, but I think it might also be a good thing to have this external pressure because it might just be the push I need. Otherwise I can see myself kicking the can down the road and making excuses when I just need to rip the band-aid off.

It was great to just write all this out because it's been buzzing around my head for a couple of weeks and actually making me quite stressed and emotional at times. I realise that in my case the risk posed by coming out is probably relatively low, but it does feel daunting. If anyone has any advice or particular thoughts on what I should do (particularly in terms of the timing) I would really appreciate it!


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Hey @glittergirl44

Welcome to our community. I'm one of the digital mentors here and I give advice to our members who reach out to us :)

I just want to thank you for sharing your story with me in such detail. You've explained it very well and it's helped me to get a really clear picture of your situation. I am glad to hear that the risk posed by you coming out is probably relatively low, but I also get that it is still daunting. I think that with coming out, it has to be the right time for you. I know you're not exactly sure on that right now, but I think that deep down, most of us know what is right for us. So, I pose a question to you.. what is your gut telling you about all of this? I find that many people have usually made their mind up by the time it comes to asking for help with this kind of thing, but often want to get advice from others anyway. What do you reckon?

Speak soon,



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Thanks for your answer. Unfortunately I've never been someone who really has strong gut feelings, I'm much more guided by logic and weighing up the situation. So it's hard to say! But I spoke about this with a friend of mine who's also gay, and their advice was that sometimes it gets to a point where you 'can't not' say it, which I think is kind of what I was describing with feeling different sorts of momentum pushing me towards doing it. I think if I went back to my parents house for the summer without saying it it would just be on my mind the whole time (even more so than it has been the past year or two), and for reasons I explained above I wouldn't want to say it while I'm there. It's also becoming kind of physically stressful, I've spent the last couple of days with my stomach in knots from apprehension, often on the verge of tears (I cry easily haha) and generally agonizing over what do to so I guess that's where my gut comes in! Plus I had the realization that if I want to maintain a good relationship with my parents (which I very much do) I'll going to have to come out to them at some point in my life, and in a way the earlier I do it the longer they have to process it (plus I wouldn't say aged 24 is particularly early anyway). So I think I'm going to take a leap of faith and do it, today even, because I think I've reached that point where the situation is about as favorable as it's going to get for the foreseeable future and I might explode otherwise!

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I did it! I sent the email that I've been agonizing over for about a week. And I got really positive reactions, knowing my parents (and the fact that we don't really do deep and emotional conversations) it was about the best I could hope for. They both said they weren't really that surprised, and that the main thing is that I'm happy. We will have to see how it pans out in the long term and whether they are accepting in practice as well as in theory, but I'm so relieved!

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Hey @glittergirl44,

Thanks for getting back to me. Yeah, I really like the advice your friend gave you about how it gets to that point where, I guess, you have to say it. I'm proud that you've taken a leap of faith and that your parents have responded so positively. It took a lot of courage to do what you did today, and I'm sure you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. 

I'm hoping that you're not feeling on the verge of tears or physically stressed anymore? :)


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