LGBTQ+ identification and acceptance is rising around the world. A 2017 survey found that almost five percent of the United States population identifies as LGBTQ+, and that number grows every year.
However, that doesn’t mean that homophobia is extinct, and sometimes it can even come from our own families. Let’s go through how to deal with homophobic parents.
To Come Out or Not To Come Out
First, you’ll need to determine whether it’s safe for you to come out to your parents. If you’re an adult who is not financially dependent on your parents, this is probably a question with an easy answer.
But, if you are a minor living in their home, and you have reason to believe there may be a risk to your safety should you come out, you should make arrangements to ensure you are safe before you come out to them.
For example, if they have threatened violence towards LGBTQ+ people in the past, you should make sure you have protections in place if you do decide to come out.
If you believe your parents may reject you and throw you out of your home, you also have some preparations to make.
If you’ve come out to other family members or adult friends, reach out to them and see if they know of any options for you. And, start saving up money, as a backup plan.
If you’re not sure what your parents will do, you should be prepared for the worst-case scenario, and make sure you have a solid plan in place.
However, you can also refrain from coming out until you leave your parents’ home and aren’t legally obligated to them. It won’t be fun, and it can take a toll on your mental health, but it is an option to consider for your safety and to ensure your future can continue in the way you want it to.
If you’re a year away from college and your parents will be paying, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons and decide what is more important to you. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice.
Look Into Their Reaction
Homophobic parents can deal with their children coming out in a variety of ways. Some of them come around with very little prompting and become great supporters to their children and the community. Some parents, unfortunately, never come around.
Before you come out, try and find some sort of gauge of how your parents may react. You can ask leading questions about LGBTQ+ news stories to see how they respond, or mention a theoretical “friend” that has come out of the closet.
That way, you’ll have at least some idea of how your parents may respond — although, they still may surprise you.
Get Ready for It
There are other ways you can prepare for the occasion. Keep some LGBTQ+ resources on hand — even if they reject you, they may get curious and take a look.
Try and come out in a neutral, public location, especially if you have safety concerns. Make sure you’re not coming out on a major occasion or during a family gathering.
If you have siblings, make sure they’re not there for this meeting — you can come out to them later, or in advance (depending on your relationship and your age).
Basically, you’ll want to find a way to make this as neutral and comfortable as possible for your parents, and for yourself, before you break the big news.
The Act of Coming Out
If you’re prepared and ready for the big event, it’s time to sit your parents down and get it done.
Don’t expect your parents to adjust to you coming out right away— it’s a major change. Make sure they know that you are happy with your sexuality and that you’re still the same person they were before they knew this information.
And, don’t beat around the bush — you don’t want to come out again if they misunderstand what you’re saying, and you also don’t want to say anything that makes it sound worse than it is.
If you’re not entirely sure how you identify just yet, you may want to wait and explore a little more before you break the big news.
Eventually, you’ll just have to give your parents some time to take this news in.
In many situations, parents often come around over time once they adjust and get more information, so there’s no reason to panic.
When coming out, prepare for the worst, but always hope for the best.
Find a Safe Space
If you do continue living in your parents’ home, you’ll need to look to other areas of your life for safe spaces you can feel comfortable being yourself in. The homes of trusted friends or family members can be a good option, as can a LGBTQ+ community center or organization if there’s one in your area.
If you’re struggling with your mental health during this process, know you’re not alone. LGBTQ teenagers are six times more likely to struggle with depression, and forty percent of LGBTQ adults have recently struggled with mental illness.
And, there are options available for you to take positive steps for improving your mental health. Many practices also offer LGBTQ+ affirming counseling. For example, this Alberquerque practice offers an in-depth explanation of how this type of counseling can benefit you.
Counseling and therapy can help you improve your other relationships, as well, so it’s a great resource for people who are struggling.
How to Deal With Homophobic Parents
Clearly, “how to deal with homophobic parents” isn’t a question with simple answers. A lot of the response will have to depend on the willingness of your parents to change. Just remember — there is absolutely nothing wrong with your sexuality.
Is the homophobia in your life causing damage to your mental health? Are you looking for solutions? Contact us today to get started.