Dear Homophobic Parents...
How to Deal With Homophobic Parents
Living with homophobic parents can be especially difficult if you are gay yourself or have a close loved one or friend who is. If your parents have said or done homophobic things in the past, you might try to gain an understanding of their viewpoints and work to change them. Then, you might decide whether you want to come out to your parents. It may also help to learn how to stand up for your right to be yourself and love whoever you want to.
Working to Change Their Views
Hear them out.The only way to convince another person to change their views is by first getting a good understanding of what their views are. You may have heard your parents make homophobic comments before, but maybe you don't really understand why they feel the way they do. Start a dialogue with them about their feelings about homosexuality and use active listening skills to truly hear their side of things.
- Avoid interrupting them or defending your own views, even if it what they say is upsetting. You will get your chance to talk later.
Ask questions.Try to gain a better understanding by digging for what's beneath the surface. Your parents may try to shrug it off when you ask "Why are you against homosexuality?" by responding "Because it's just wrong!" Press them for more information by asking clarifying questions.
- You might ask, "How do you think it's wrong?"
- In some cases, this might pertain to their religious beliefs, but you might also uncover a deeper, or more personal reason that they are against homosexuality.
Respect your parents’ religious views.If your parents are homophobic because of their religion, understand that you may not sway them or gain their approval if you are homosexual. They believe they are acting in your best interest by taking a stand against this sexual orientation. Don’t attack their faith or try to change their minds.
- Your parents may challenge your own faith. Think about how you will respond if they do.
Give your parents a different perspective.If you are homosexual and your parents have questions about your orientation or life as a LGBTQ person, answer them to the best of your ability. Be patient and remember that what’s obvious to you might not be to them. You can also help them find articles, pamphlets, and other educational materials to read.
Don’t give up on your parents.If you love your parents and want them in your life, you’ll have to accept them as they are. Keep reaching out to them, and they will probably respond eventually. They may even have a change of heart and stop being so homophobic.
- Even if your parents remain homophobic to some degree, they may soften up over time to maintain a relationship with you.
Coming Out to Your Parents
Decide whether coming out is a good idea.If you are a minor, coming out to homophobic parents might cause a lot of unintended consequences. Your parents might restrict your activities, say hurtful things, or try to force you to become straight. Be sure you’re prepared to deal with the potential fallout before you talk to them.
- Consider waiting until you’ve moved out on your own to tell your parents about your sexual orientation.
Find a good time to come out.Talk to your parents when you and they are calm and in a good mood. Avoid coming out during a busy or emotionally tense time, like a holiday, a big family event, or an argument.
- Think about what you’ll say ahead of time, so you don’t get tongue-tied.
- Ask a trusted friend or adult to help and support you during this conversation.
Be kind and compassionate.Your coming out may come as a shock to your parents. They might react with sadness, confusion, or denial. Try to understand where they are coming from, and be as gentle as you can during your conversation. Reassure them that you’re happy, and tell them you can still do things like get married and have kids.
- You might (understandably) feel upset if your parents take the news badly. Remember, though, that they love you and want the best for you. Their negative emotions are probably rooted in their concern for your happiness and well-being.
Allow them their reactions and responses.Your parents may get upset or try to convince you to change. Listen to them respectfully, keeping in mind that they may accept the news better after they’ve had a chance to calm down. If they have objections, answer them carefully and compassionately, but firmly – don’t give them false hope that you can change.
Know when you’ve said enough.When you’ve told your parents what you needed to and listened to their responses, you’ve said enough for one day. Leave them alone to discuss the issue privately. You’ll be able to talk more in the future if you need to.
Give your parents time.Sometimes it takes a while for people to adjust to a new reality. Don’t expect things to be perfect the next time you see your parents – your relationship may remain awkward or strained for some time. Let them digest the news, and don’t bring the topic up again until they seem ready.
Emphasize that you’re still the same person.Show your parents that you haven’t changed – you’re still their child, and your personality is the same as always. Don’t make your orientation the focus of your interactions. Instead, chat about simple, uncomplicated things like the weather or your plans for the weekend.
- Acting the same as you always have will help your parents feel “normal” about your relationship again.
Consider counseling.Counseling might help your parents come to terms with your orientation. If they don’t seem to be adjusting to the news very well, suggest making an appointment with a family counselor.
- Even if your parents don’t want to talk to a counselor, consider getting individual counseling for yourself. If you’re in high school or college, you can probably talk to a school counselor for free.
Standing Up for Yourself
Realize that your life is yours alone.You are the one who has to live your life, so resolve to do it on your own terms, not your parents’. Your parents may be unhappy or even angry about your sexual orientation, but it’s not their place to make you behave or feel a certain way.
- However, remember that if you’re living in your parents’ house, they still have some say over your activities. If you’re worried about how coming out will affect your day-to-day life, it may be time to step out on your own.
Make it clear that you aren’t asking for permission.Your parents might try to forbid you from being anything but straight. Don’t get into an argument with them – you won’t win, and it might make the situation worse. Instead, calmly tell them that you aren’t going to change, but you still want a relationship with them.
- Say something like, “I understand that you don’t approve, and I’m not asking for permission. I’m just hoping for your acceptance and tolerance.”
Have a backup plan.Know what you will do if your parents give you an ultimatum. If you think they might kick you out, pack a bag and line up a place to stay ahead of time. If you’d rather pretend to be straight than leave home, understand that you will have to keep up the act until you do move out.
QuestionMy mom didn't take the news lightly. She says that I'm not her son anymore, that she wants to die etc. She keeps making me feel so guilty! I'm really young and have no good family members. I'm lost.
Ph.D. in PsychologyPh.D. in PsychologyExpert AnswerIt takes bravery and courage to come out about your sexual orientation to family members who are not accepting of it. Being around like-minded (open-minded) and supporting people is important right now. Join a support group in your community or online, talk to a therapist or counselor, and surround yourself with people who you feel safe with to be yourself.Thanks!
QuestionI'm a pansexual female and have been out as such for almost four years but my Dad is convinced it's a phase and is hoping I'll come out as straight. What should I do?
Ph.D. in PsychologyPh.D. in PsychologyExpert AnswerIt is great that you are out and comfortable with your sexual orientation. It is normal for your dad to believe this is a phase and be in denial, but this can be very frustrating for you. It is likely that he may also be confused about what being pansexual means, so explain it to him, as much as he needs you to, and be patient with him. Also try being open and honest with him about who you are dating, instead of hiding it or keeping it secret. Over time exposure will help your father to understand, acknowledge, and accept your sexual identity.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if they try to "fix" you? I'm so scared of that happening!wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMany people in your situation feel the same way, but here is the thing: this is your life. If they cannot accept that, wait to tell them until you are an adult, so that they can no longer force you to go and "fix" yourself. If you tell them and you are forced, just remain strong and believe in yourself. No one can change who you are, nor do they have any right to do so.Thanks!
QuestionWhat things should I pack in a run-bag, in case I might need to use it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake sure you will be able to survive at least a few days with this bag. You should bring water, some clothes, food that doesn't need to be refrigerated or heated up, and money, a lot of money. If you want you can also bring anything valuable to you like a heirloom. Be sure to bring your phone, charger, etc.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if your parents know but don't want to accept it? (This makes me mad.)wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf they know for any reason but you have not directly told them, it may be the time to do so. Sit them down and tell them straight away. If you have already told them and they are still in denial, it would be a good idea to give them some time (may vary from some weeks to many months). Denial is sometimes the first step on the path of acceptance. Finally, if you believe you have already given them too much time and there are no signs of improvement, you could consider talking with them about it again, or talking to a more open-minded adult that could talk to them about it.Thanks!
QuestionIs it natural to be homosexual or are people just gay because they want to be?Kori BustardCommunity AnswerIt is natural. Love is love. If someone has feelings for someone, it isn't just because "they want to." You can't force yourself to love someone. Homosexuality is very common among animals, but humans are the only animals that consider it to be wrong.Thanks!
QuestionMy parents say "gays go to hell" and I am scared that will happen to me. I am bi but I have no one to turn to help.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on how old you are -- if you're old enough to, try to reach out to a friend you either know in real life or online. They may be could help you move in with them, or move into a house with them if you'd like. Or maybe live on your own if that's best. But rest assured, gays don't go to hell for their sexuality, that's just a cruel thing to say.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if your parents kick you in out of the house?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf your parents try to kick you out, try reaching out to any neighbors, friends, or nearby family members. They might be willing to let you stay with them, rather than living out on the streets. Usually friends are the best option, because it is more likely for them to be accepting and tolerant. Family members may have the same opinion as your parents, so only contact them if you know you'll be safe. As well as all of this, it's usually best to come out when you know you can handle yourself if something like being kicked out happen. Overall, it's best to have plenty of options.Thanks!
QuestionI want to tell my friends I'm bisexual but I'm afraid that if I did they would tell everyone and I don't want my parents to find out, what do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionHow do I talk to my parents about accepting my lesbian girlfriend?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell them that she is the person you want to be with, that she is the person you love and have decided to be with. It is your life, not theirs. While they can voice their non-acceptance, remember that you have the right to your own opinion and values.Thanks!
- Whether it's your parents or not, if someone threatens you, you should tell the police or other trusted adults.
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of How to Deal With Homophobic Parents was reviewed by on September 22, 2019.
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Video: being gay with homophobic parents.
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