Coming Out to My Family as a Lesbian
Originally Published: January 6, 2016
Revised: January 6, 2016
You know that tingly feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re nervous? Well, that’s how I felt when I called my mom into my room after school to tell her I liked a girl. I was 13 at the time and in seventh grade. I had been dating this girl for almost two years, and I felt that I couldn’t hide it anymore from my family. I was fidgety as I sat on my bed waiting for my mom to come in. I was going over what I was going to say for what felt like the fiftieth time. And then as soon as my mother walked through the door, it’s like all of the things I rehearsed just got erased. My mother looked worried as she sat down in front of me.
I was afraid of how my mother would respond. I had been hearing from my friends, who at the time were also coming out, about the reaction most parents were having, and I expected the worst. I have a habit of writing down my thoughts or feelings when I get nervous instead of saying them out loud. My mom noticed my nervousness and said, “Anything you have to talk to me about you can.” So, I wrote on a piece of notebook paper, saying that there was a girl in my school that I liked. I was surprised when my mom said, “You’re curious and that’s OK. I still love you no matter what.”
…had I not told my mother when I did…I would have had to constantly hide who I truly was from the people I love the most…
A Weight Had Been Lifted
In that moment I felt a giant weight being lifted from my shoulders. I cried tears of joy and relief and hugged my mother tightly. Later to let me know everything was OK, she took me out for ice cream.
Eventually, my four brothers found out. My youngest brother found out first after he found a couple of notes my girlfriend had written to me in my room. When I came home from school, he pulled me aside and asked me about them. He said he suspected that I might identify as lesbian already and was totally OK with it. It made our relationship stronger and allowed us to bond more.
After finding out, my youngest brother developed a habit of making lesbian jokes or references. He made one during Thanksgiving dinner with my mother, my brothers and their girlfriends all around. I joked right back with him, not even a little ashamed of being the lesbian I am. It took a moment for my other brothers to catch on, but they turned out to be accepting of me as well, which made me feel as if I was loved no matter the gender of the person I liked.
Not Ready to Tell Everyone
While my immediate family accepted me, there are members of my family who are not as accepting of LGBTQ people and remain clueless about my sexual orientation, such as my grandmother and great uncle. I chose not to tell my grandmother after hearing her homophobic reaction to my cousin coming out as bisexual. Then there is my great uncle, who opposes anyone who has a sexual orientation other than heterosexual. But had I not told my mother when I did, I feel as though it would have made my life until now very different. I would have had to constantly hide who I truly was from the people I love the most. I would have suffered from the constant need to hide and tiptoe around the people who care for me the most.
Coming out has improved my relationship with my mother and my brothers, and it allows us to speak more openly around each other. Though it had a positive result for me, I know coming out while living at home may not be the right choice for everyone. There are still parents who don’t accept their LGBTQ children and will have negative reactions. For some people, coming out to family can be risky, dangerous even, if you know you might get kicked out of the house or physically harmed. Fortunately for me though, coming out was overall an empowering experience that helped bring me and my family closer than ever.
Visit the Sexetc.org Communication Tool and learn more ways to start important conversations with your family.
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