Coming out as LGBTQIA - Healthcare Guild

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How to Come Out to Your Parents - Dan Savage

Human Rights Campaign - Coming Out Resources

Through research, educational efforts and outreach, HRC encourages lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to live their lives openly and seeks to change the hearts and minds of Americans to the side of equality.  Resources include coming out: in the workplace, for Latinos/Latinas, as transgender, as a straight supporter, for Asian Pacific Islanders, African Americans, in your place of worship, and other categories ...

Empty Closets - Coming Out Stages

Everyone wonders who they are, but not everyone is brave enough to seek the answer. Empty Closets is a place where you can figure out who you are, surrounded by other people just like you. Whether you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, curious, unsure or a friend of someone who is, Empty Closets will help you find the answer....

Coming Out: A Guide for Youth and Their Allies

Coming Out is now more than ever a youth issue. Studies indicate that many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) young people are aware of their sexual orientation/gender identity by the time they are 13. Chances are that more than a few students at your middle or high school are wrestling right now with how and when to tell their friends and families they are LGB or T. Whether you are LGBT yourself or wondering how to react to a friend who has just come out to you, the following information can help you to manage your coming out experience openly and with sensitivity.

October Celebrates National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico, and Jean O’Leary, an openly gay political leader from Los Angeles, on behalf of the personal growth workshop, “The Experience and National Gay Rights Advocates.”  The date of October 11 coincides with the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights....

Coming Out Help for Families, Friends & Allies

Your first reaction to learning that your loved one is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning can range anywhere from anger to sadness, fear to hurt, confusion to grief, and anywhere and everything in between. These emotions and the thousands of others that parents, families, and friends experience as they navigate their loved ones coming out process are normal.

Coming Out to Family Over the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for LGBT people or families with LGBT members, but there are several strategies that you can use to help reduce stress and create a happy holiday this year.

If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender...

  1. Don’t assume you know how somebody will react to news of your sexual orientation or gender identity — you may be surprised.

  2. Realize that your family’s reaction to you may not be because you are LGBT. The hectic holiday pace may cause family members to act differently than they would under less stressful conditions.

  3. Remember that “coming out” is a continuous process. You may have to “come out” many times.

  4. Don’t wait for your family’s attitude to change to have a special holiday. Recognize that your parents need time to acknowledge and accept that they have a LGBT child. It took you time to come to terms with who you are; now it is your family’s turn.

  5. Let your family’s judgments be theirs to work on, as long as they are kind to you.

  6. If it is too difficult to be with your family, create your own holiday gathering with friends and loved ones.

  7. If you are transgender, be gentle with your family’s pronoun “slips.” Let them know you know how difficult it is.

Before the visit...

  1. Make a decision about being “out” to each family member before you visit.

  2. If you are partnered, discuss in advance how you will talk about your relationship, or show affection with one another, if you plan to make the visit together.

  3. If you bring your partner home, don’t wait until late into the holiday evening to raise the issue of sleeping arrangements. Make plans in advance.

  4. Have alternate plans if the situation becomes difficult at home.

  5. Find out about local LGBT resources.

  6. If you do plan to “come out” to your family over the holidays, have support available, including  PFLAG publications and the number of a local PFLAG chapter.

During the visit...

  1. Focus on common interests.

  2. Reassure family members that you are still the same person they have always known.

  3. If you are partnered, be sensitive to his or her needs as well as your own.

  4. Be wary of the possible desire to shock your family.

  5. Remember to affirm yourself.

  6. Realize that you don’t need your family’s approval.

  7. Connect with someone else who is LGBT—by phone or in person—who understands what you are going through and will affirm you along the way.

Coming Out to Your Kids

The first thing to note is that it is really terrific that you are taking time to consider how to sensitively approach coming out to your kids. As children, we really want to know the truth about our parents’ sexual orientation, and usually we have some idea before you even tell us! But just because we want to know doesn’t mean that we always are thrilled about the situation, especially initially. It can signify a big change in the family, especially when accompanied with all the transitions that come with a divorce or break-up. Here are some tips to keep in mind that might help:

It’s never too early to come out to your children. Kids understand love. What they don’t understand is deception or hiding. And it’s never too late to come out to your child. Even parents in their forties could be just now coming out to them. A lot of mysteries are being solved, and missing puzzle pieces falling into place for these families. Often knowing the truth will be a relief for kids of all ages.  Tell your children in a private space where the conversation can’t be overheard and will be completely confidential. Telling them at your regular Saturday night dinner at your favorite restaurant will be overwhelming.

Make sure you tell them when there will be plenty of time for the conversation to continue if it needs to. If they are staying with you for the weekend, for example, talk with the kids on Saturday morning instead of waiting ’til the drive back to their other home on Sunday night. If you are agonizing over exactly what to say, try writing it down first or practicing with a friend. Kids’ responses are going to vary. Some may need some time and space to process the information on their own. Some might have a million questions. Others may barely react at all. No matter how your kids respond to your coming out, honor the process that they need to go through for themselves. Listen and ask your children what they already know and feel about LGBTQ people. Both as a starting point for them to have a discussion about sexual orientation; as well as in regards to suspicions they may have had about you. Don’t think that coming out to your kids means it’s time to have “the big sex talk.”

Explain your sexuality in age-appropriate ways and in ways that they can understand. Talk about having feelings of love, care, and concern, along with attraction, for the same sex. If you are involved with someone and feel comfortable sharing this information, it’s a good idea as you will be explaining your feelings for someone your kids know. Another person makes the whole thing more concrete and less abstract. (See “What Does Gay Mean” in resources section) Think of this as a lifelong conversation, not a one-time deal. Your children’s thoughts, feelings, and questions will continue over time and change as they get older. This month they might not care, next month they might be mortified, next year they may have lots of questions. Keep the conversation alive; the tricky part is avoiding them feeling like you want to talk about it ALL the time (but believe me, that’s better than not enough). Let them know that no matter what, you love them. One of the main things kids worry about is that you will no longer share the common interests that you used to, or that you will somehow be different than you used to be. At the time of coming out some parents do go through what we fondly refer to as a “second adolescence.” Let your kids know that you are happy and are enjoying a new aspect of your life, but that no matter what, they are your number one priority. And then prove it to them by being consistent, attentive, and communicative.

Help break down stereotypes of gay people for them. If your children already know other gay people draw comparisons between you and them. If they don’t, tell them things that may seem obvious to you, like not all gay men are hairdressers; give examples of famous LGBTQ people who they can look up to. They may be concerned that your whole personality is going to change now that you are gay; reassure them that you are still you—being gay is simply one more thing about you and that there is no one way that all LGBTQ people must be and act. Give them options of other supportive adults to talk with. Sometimes it’s easier for kids to express some of their feelings with another adult because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. If one of your parents, siblings, or friends is being especially supportive or there is another adult that you trust, arrange for them to spend time with the kids to provide a sounding board. Your kids may be gay. They may be straight. Either way, it’s not a judgment on your parenting. Nor are they doomed to a life of loneliness and desperation and homophobia (if they are gay). Be as supportive of your kid’s orientation as you wish your parents were of yours. Respect your kids’ wishes about how, when, and who they come out to about you. Let them tell their friends, peers, and others at their own pace and in their own time. Recognize that now they too have the joy and burden of coming out. Most importantly, connect them with other kids who have LGBTQ parents. Studies show that when children know they are not alone and have opportunities to share with other kids with LGBTQ parents, they have fewer problems. Go to events with your local LGBTQ family group if there is one.

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