Since marriage equality happened, big, gay love is taking over the world. Which is exactly the way it should be — as far as forward-thinking, equality-minded people are concerned, anyway. Some more conservative parents, on the other hand, might be crying hetero tears into their pillows as they picture their spawn burning in the darkest corners of hell. Or if they're not staunchly opposed to your sexual orientation, maybe they're just not sure how to feel. Either way, the truth is that it's really hard to have parents who don't support your sexuality. It feels like they're rejecting the very core of your existence. And no matter how proud and confident you are, it has the power to make you feel like a child who has done something terribly wrong. Plus, it’s lonely and scary to live without parental support.
In fact, almost one-third of LGBTQ young people say their biggest worry is that the people they love will not accept them once they come out. That’s some really difficult and unfair territory to navigate, especially if your parents are everything to you. So how do you handle unsupportive parents? Every situation is different and some people are never safe or comfortable coming out. But if you are, and you don’t get the best reaction, here are some tips to try to help you (and your parents) move toward a healthy, supportive situation.
1. Give them time
While it's preferable that they go full Oprah-love on you the moment you come out, they could just need time to wrap their brains around things. That's reasonable. It took me longer to accept that I loved Taylor Swift than it took my mom to accept that I was a lesbian. We all come to the right side of things in our own time and in our own way.
2. Give them the facts
Sure, your "gay lifestyle" may include, well, being gay, but it also includes things like going to work, doing laundry, buying groceries, and watching Netfix. You can still get married (YAY!). You can still give them grandchildren. You can still go to church, in most cases, if that's what you're into. Our culture is full of stereotypes ranging from the mildly comical to the downright offensive and you need to shut their imaginations down, STAT. You're the same person you were before those two little words came out of your mouth.
3. Remind them that there is more to you than sex
So many people immediately want to discuss sex whenever the whole gay thing comes up. Gently remind them that you're a whole person, and that being gay is not just about sex, and it's not your only defining characteristic by any means. Don't let them make the things you may or may not do with your genitals into your whole identity. They don't need to know what you do in the bedroom any more than you need to know how they get down. If you have to go there, ask them if straight sex is what their whole lives are about. They'll probably say no.
4. Push but don't shove
Some people have parents who don't support their sexuality, but support them as loved ones. If you're lucky enough to have parents who love you, and want you in their lives, it might be worth it to agree to disagree. You'll still have moments of anger and sadness when the subject comes up, but you might find being the bigger person is better than having no relationship with your parents at all.
5. Cut your losses
On the same token, if it fills you with heartbreak and anger to have parents who don't support your sexuality, it's OK to distance yourself from them or even sever ties. Sometimes it's the only thing you can do. Your parents don't get to keep you from living a healthy, happy life — especially when you haven't done anything wrong. You also have to remember that while you can help them through this process, it's ultimately not your job to make your sexuality OK for them.
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