Coming out is never easy, there’s always that fear that someone will react badly but coming out to my parents was the one I was most worried about. I love my parents and they love me but I was acutely aware that for my whole life I had only ever been with men (as far as they were aware anyway) and that my sudden switch in sexuality would be a shock to them. The worry that they wouldn’t accept me ate away at me, what would I do if they weren’t accepting? Would I have to move out? Would they still speak to me? Would they try to change me? I debated for months about how and when I would tell them but in the end it didn’t happen how I imagined it would at all.
I had always pictured myself coming out to them when I had a girlfriend, someone that I was madly in love with and that I’d want my family to meet. I imagined I would tell them I was lesbian and that I was in love with a girl and that it wouldn’t matter if they reacted badly because my girlfriend would be there to support me. But in the end it was the opposite that made me tell them. I was heartbroken, completely and utterly devastated; things with my girlfriend had fallen apart, I had no idea what was happening or if she wanted to be with me or not. I spent weeks over thinking, my anxiety reaching new heights, I cried myself to sleep and more than anything I just longed to tell my mum what was happening and get a cuddle. I won’t get into it too much but for me losing my girlfriend was harder than any loss I’d had before. A lot of you won’t understand this but falling in love with a girl felt nothing like falling for a guy, it felt a million times more intimate and real. Naturally, when that love came crashing down, so did I.
I’m not known for my healthy coping mechanisms, I hide my pain behind humour, numb it with alcohol and generally do everything I can to avoid feeling it. I spiralled, I was up one minute and down the next, naturally my parents noticed and started to ask what was wrong, not being able to tell them was torture. Then through all the unhealthy coping mechanisms I developed this sense of chaos, this feeling where I found myself saying “fuck it” to everything. One day I woke up and decided I was going to do it, I was going to come out to my parents. I had no grand plan, I just knew I had to do it that night or I never would.
We had planned a family BBQ and game night so the idea was that I would tell them before the game night began, that way everyone would still be sober. Like all great plans, this didn’t work, my dad in his wisdom decided to start drinking while cooking the BBQ so come 7 o’clock he was fairly tipsy. We sat down to start playing and I nervously stated “well family, I have an announcement”. Their faces dropped straight away, clearly expecting some bad news, I continued, reassuring them it wasn’t bad, that my sister already knew and that I thought my mum maybe had her suspicions. And then I said it.
My dad sat across from me unblinking, I was unsure if he was phased by the news I’d just dropped or if it was just from the alcohol. I looked around, a nervous smile spread across my face as I rambled about how nothing had changed, I was still me. I looked at my mum and asked if she maybe had her suspicions like I thought she had. She confirmed she had and reassured me that it didn’t change anything for her, she loved me no matter what, times were different now and all she wanted was for me to be happy. I can’t tell you how elated I was, my mum means the world to me and the thought of ruining our relationship had weighed heavily on me. Sadly, my dad didn’t have the same reassuring words for me.
Traumatising. That’s the word he chose to describe the situation. Mostly he was silent and a part of me wishes he had just stayed silent. The words that he said to me that night will be with me forever, I won’t share them because I know now he didn’t mean them but at the time they cut me. It was everything I had been afraid of, he didn’t accept me, didn’t want to be anywhere near me. He was upset, shocked and angry. I felt so small then, like a kid who’s lost their parent in the shops. I just wanted him to come to me, to tell me it was ok and that he loved me. But he didn’t.
That night I cried myself to sleep. The next morning though I woke up and felt relief, it hadn’t gone as I had hoped but I had done it, it was over, my fears had come true but I was still here, still breathing, heart still beating. When I went downstairs that morning it was like nothing had happened, he wasn’t ignoring me or being angry with me he was simply acting as though nothing had changed. Eventually he came over to me and told me that he needed some time to process it. I let go of the breath I had been holding; this was progress. This was a step in the right direction. Things didn’t improve overnight, but it’s only been a week since coming out and my dad has come around a lot. We haven’t had any more conversations about it but he’s treating me just the same as before and he hasn’t stormed out the room whenever my mum brings it up, so overall I’m happy. He’ll get there in the end I think, he just needs time.
Overall, I’d say it went well. My main reason for telling them was so that I could share what was happening with my mum and now I can. Now I can cry to my mum about how much it hurts, I can get a cuddle when it gets too much and generally just feel loved and comforted. So yeah, overall I’m happy with how it went and proud of myself for being brave enough to tell them.