What do you do when your child comes out to you as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?
Whether your child has come out to you, or if you found out unintentionally that your son or daughter is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, your child needs you now. Every child’s worst fear is that by coming out their parents will reject them. No matter what your beliefs, fears or prejudices, you need to let your child know that you love them.
Your child is the same person he/she was before coming out of the closet. Remember, someone’s sexual orientation is just one part of who they are. Your child who loved pro wrestling and The Beatles is still the same kid you’ve loved since birth. Nothing about him/her has changed. You just have more knowledge about his/her life. Take this opportunity to connect as you did before you knew he/she was gay. Was there a meal you liked to cook together, a favorite TV show you watched? Make sure you continue to do the things you did as a family.
Show an Interest in Your Child’s life
Talk to your son or daughter. If you feel comfortable asking questions about his/her sexual orientation, do so. But you don’t need to focus on sexual orientation. Talk to him/her about school, work, other activities and interests. Studies show that children whose parents take an interest in their lives are less likely to engage in risky behavior.
What You May Be Going Through
You may blame yourself for your child’s homosexuality. Don’t. It’s not your fault. Most scientists and psychologists agree, people are born LGBT. It is not something that you could have influenced.
You may feel depressed and isolated, like you have no one you can talk to. Find yourself a supportive counselor if you need it.
Things will be different now than perhaps you hoped for you child. Most parents believe their children will grow up to be heterosexual, get married and have children. Letting go of that dream for your child can be hard. Remember though, that was YOUR dream. Your child may still choose to spend their life with one partner and have children. Even though your child did not choose to be gay, they may make some life choices you do not agree with. Although this may be hard for you, remember, it’s their life and they have the right to live it as their own.
What Your Child is Going Through
When people come out, they often question their place in society. They wonder how they will fit in with the family. Will they still have a family? Get married, have children? How will their church or faith community accept them? Will their friends accept or reject them?
You have a choice. You can help your child feel accepted and loved, or you can add to their feelings of isolation. Make sure your child knows they still have a place in the family, no matter what the outside world tells them.
You can help your child connect with a supportive community. Many cities have support groups for gay and lesbian youth. First check the group out. Offer to drive your child to a meeting.There are many support groups on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet that you can join and contact parents in your area. Wipe Out Homophobia is just one of them.
Support your child if someone makes a disparaging remark against gays. If she is a victim of harassment or homophobia, stand by his/her side.
Who Can I Tell?
Who to come out to is ultimately your child’s choice. Who you tell can have a consequence on his/her life. On the other hand, you might need to talk to someone and don’t want to keep such important information to yourself. It’s important that you be able to get the support that you need. Check in with your son or daughter before you tell anyone about their sexual orientation. Let them know you need to be able to talk to people to get support for yourself. REMEMBER you can always talk to support groups online, many anonymously.
If Your Religion Says Homosexuality is a Sin
Some religions call homosexuality a sin. Others are more open and accepting of gays and lesbians. The debate is still out on this topic and probably will be for a long time. If your child was raised in the same religion as you he/she is probably having lots of conflicting feelings. Take a look at the work of some Biblical scholars who have a different interpretation of the Bible.