J&J Chats: Should I come out to My Homophobic Parents?

The title states, J and J Chats. Two text message bubbles follow. The first states, Should I come out to my homophobic parents? The second bubble displays 3 typing dots.

I live with my homophobic parents and I don’t know what will happen if I come out as bi, but it hurts to hear what they say about gay people. I hate that they think I’m a completely different person that who I really am. I guess it doesn’t make sense for me to come out when I have no reason to because I’m not in a same-gender relationship (or any relationship), but it feels really draining to put on an act all the time.

-Anonymous request

Jas: It’s hard because we don’t know the whole situation. We don’t want you to put yourself in an unsafe situation. It might be better if you move out first so you have somewhere safe to be.

Jess: Yeah it’s hard. If you don’t know what’s going to happen, then, I don’t know either. I’m sure it feels really hard to not be who you are all the time. But if you’re risking homelessness, then those problems might get harder.

Jas: It might be worth to have a backup plan. If you have a plan with a friend to move in with if things don’t go well–something like that if it’s possible.

Jess: Yeah because it’s too risky to put yourself in a position if you’re risking being homeless. It’s hard to tell based off this submission. It could be this extreme, or it could be that they are homophobic now but come around eventually.

Jas: And to consider if they’re still at school and their parents cut their funds, that kind of thing.

Jess: Yeah, I think it really depends on the situation and how deeply tied up you are in them. If you’re still very financially dependent on them, then it might be too hard at this point in your life. And this really isn’t the advice I want to give because this is hard, and I always want people to be who they are.

Jas: I know, this is hard.

Jess: It just make more sense to wait to come out until you’re in a better position to handle it independently. I think a lot of people can relate to the feeling about “pretending to be a different person” than you really are. My parents were pretty good with everything, but even when I wasn’t out to them, it did feel like I was faking being a completely different person. And I know that is a very suffocating feeling. You just feel like you’re living a fake life at that point and it makes everything very, very hard. It’s not just one moment, it’s your entire life and having to fake a different personality. But, if it’s really as bad as we’re worried about here, you will find your freedom later and maybe be better for it than losing the stability you have now.

Jas: It is such a huge risk.

Jess: I feel bad because I don’t want to scare you into thinking you can never come out.

Jas: You know your parents better than us, so you might be able to predict how much of a risk coming out is.

Jess: I would probably suggest—if you haven’t already—to come out to other people that you do trust. Your friends, your siblings that you can trust, extended family, classmates, co-workers. I would suggest coming out to other people so that not your entire life feels fake. Try to come out to others so you can be yourself to other people while you wait on your parents. So maybe this way, it won’t feel so suffocating.

Jess: Another thing I suggest—which I have recommended to people before—make sure you’re out online. If you’re online life is too deeply entangled with your real life, make new accounts that are completely detached from your real life and just be “out” online. I think that helps a lot of people find who they are for the first time. I think being out online really helped me when I wasn’t out to people in my life yet. Do you think it helped you, Jas?

Jas: Yeah, I agree. It did.

Jess: I also wanted to address the part that said, “It doesn’t make sense for me to come out because I’m not in a same-gender relationship.” You don’t have not be in a relationship to come out.

Jas: Not at all.

Jess: I know it feels like you do—and I didn’t follow my own advice here, I only came out after I was in a relationship—but, that doesn’t mean I think it only makes sense to come out when you’re in a same-gender relationship.

Jas: I think it helps because it gives you a “reason.”

Jess: Right, like at that point, it’s not something you can hide forever. But I think back then, I wish someone had told me that I didn’t need to wait for a relationship to come out because being a lesbian or being bi—or any orientation—is about who you’re with, but it’s more about who you are. And that doesn’t change whether you’re dating someone or not. So whether or not you’re dating someone, I would still say come out to your friends, come out to your coworkers, come out to your classmates, come out to people you can trust. You don’t have to be in a relationship to do that.

To summarize: Assess the risk factors, make a back-up plan, try to come out when possible to ease the suffocation of being in the closet.

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