I’ll just get right to the point. I’m 25 years old, a black man, and gay. The problem is, I haven’t “come out” to my family yet. My mom and dad are very old school Christian, and my two older brothers are kind of homophobic. I’m afraid that if I tell them I’m gay, they won’t talk to me anymore. On the other hand, I’m tired of living this secret double life. I know people say I have to live my truth, but I don’t want to lose my family while doing it. They mean everything to me. What do you think I should do?
Thanks in advance,
Still in the Closet
Dear Still in the Closet,
Thanks for writing to me. Coming out to family and friends is always a big deal in my book. One never knows how people will respond to the “I’m gay talk,” so it can be nerve wrecking. So I get it. However, the people saying “live your truth,” are absolutely right. Trying to suppress your sexuality, or continue putting it in the “closet” can lead to a life of sadness and depression. You’ll never experience true happiness because you are unable to be the true you! I know what I’m talking about, because I went through a period of deep depression trying not to be gay and later trying to hide my sexuality. You only get one short life to be you, so take advantage of that.
On another note, let me just say something about Christianity and homosexuality. I truly don’t believe the two are contradictory terms, and you can practice both. I’m gay, but I’ll tell anybody who will listen how much I love the Lord. I have a great relationship with God. If you are Christian like your parents, make sure they know that you haven’t abandoned your faith by being gay. Also add, you are homosexual because you were born this way and not out of choice. Make all of this as clear as possible, so they don’t think you are carelessly embarking on a life of sin.
Let me just point this out too. In most cases, mothers know if their son is gay. Call it maternal instinct, but mothers know. Even if they refuse to acknowledge the truth, they deep down inside usually are aware of who their child is. They just need confirmation from the horse’s mouth. Also, the older someone gets and fails to bring a girlfriend around for family barbecues and certain holiday dinners, the more family members start to whisper about that person’s sexuality. After a certain age, a man goes from being labelled the family bachelor to the family “gay.”
Going forward here are my suggestions.
- Take your time finding the right time to tell your family. Only you know when that will be.
- If people in your family don’t take the news well at first, don’t immediately panic. A lot of times, those members will warm up to the idea in their own time. I know it took me a long time to accept my own sexuality, so I had to realize it may take some family members a while to warm up to the idea as well. And that’s ok!
- Out of both your parents and two brothers, which one of them do you think may be the most receptive to your news? Whichever one it is, you may want to tell that person first before telling the rest of your family. This gives you an opportunity to get some practice having the conversation. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to gain an ally before talking to the rest of your family.
- In your coming out, make sure you take the time to explain what being gay means for you. Often times, gay is portrayed so one dimensional in the media. When I came out to people, I made sure they knew the only thing different about me was my preference for men. I assured them I wouldn’t suddenly become Will or Jack from Will & Grace, or Rupaul. And there is NOTHING wrong with those individuals, it’s just they don’t define what gay is for me and I wanted to make sure my loved ones knew that.
- Know that in the end, true love really is unconditional. Even if people in your family don’t like you being gay, the love they have for you should eventually bring them around to trying to accept you for who you are.
I know I was brief here, so if you need more advice on this topic or want to talk, please don’t hesitate to contact me again!
As always, nothing but love.