Do I Come Out During a Family Celebration?

Dear Judyth,
I’ve recently moved to the West Coast and am in a fairly new and seemingly promising relationship. My conservative family is coming from the mid-West for the holidays and I don’t know what to do because I haven’t come out to them. I don’t want to ignore and hide my friend while my family is here, and I don’t want to ruin the holidays with my family. What do I do?
Confused

Dear Confused,
In order to have an emotional, as well as sexually intimate relationship it’s important to be able to share the important events and people in your life. Hiding your relationship may convince your family that even you think a gay relationship is something shameful when your orientation is finally revealed.

You are an adult now and this is an adult conversation. Your new relationship may or may not be your soul mate, but the sooner you reveal your situation the sooner you can have an honest relationship with your family and your new friend.

Be gentle but matter of fact about your orientation. Let them know that it’s a burden you’ve been carrying for some time and you know it’s not something that is going to change for you. (You don’t want them to think moving to a new city made you gay!) Let them know you still love them and this is not about their parenting but about who you are.

You must decide if it’s better to talk to them on the phone or by Skype, or wait until they are visiting for the holidays. The advantage of talking now is that they will have time to become somewhat adjusted to the idea before they come. Sending literature from, or a link to, an organization such as PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) can be useful.

The disadvantage of telling them before they arrive is that they will be surrounded by their conservative friends and family who will have time to be dramatic, reinforcing their fears about your announcement.

The advantage of telling them while they are with you is that they can touch and see that you are still their child. They can meet your gay and straight friends and be gentled into, what is for them, your new lifestyle away from the people who would denigrate you.

Have courage and trust that your parents want what’s best for you, even if they haven’t known your needs. It might even be a relief to them for you to be out of the closet if they have suspected you are gay.