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I Have Something To Tell You
By: Therese Jansen

Now that you have become comfortable with yourself again, you have decided it is time to tell Mom and Dad. It is normal to gasp as that idea hits the brain, not to worry.

We know that it is important we are honest with our loved ones. But we are also afraid that the unconditional love we were promised may just be conditional after all. So we run down our memory of how our parents presented homosexuality, or how they reacted when the topic was discussed. It is amazing how clear our memories become when called up on this topic. It is amazing how clear our memories become when called up on this topic.

  • Your parents never discussed the topic, to your knowledge.
    This is obviously inconclusive. Perhaps they are just uncomfortable with the topic - there are many people who do not know what to say about it, or the topic just never came up when you were around.

  • The only thing you can remember is their making/laughing at jokes about homosexuals.
    Well, this can mean that they have negative feelings about homosexuality, or they are just insensitive to politically correct behavior.

  • They belong to a religion that [incorrectly] teaches that homosexuality is a sin.
    Many individuals do not follow all of the teachings of their church. Without a memory confirming that they do agree with their faith on this topic, you do not know for certain that you are going to encounter a problem here.

    So, you may want to test the waters , so to speak, before you take that dive. When you find yourself chatting about news or issues, bring up the topic in a non-personal manner. With GLBT issues surfacing in the news so often today, it is pretty easy to find something that no one would find confrontational.

    Hate crime legislation is on many ballots coming up in November. Ask what they think about the issue. A side benefit is that you might get a chance to change their mind on the issue, if necessary.

    GLBT marriage is also on many ballots, in response to the legislation passed in Vermont. Ask how they feel about the issue - again, take the opportunity to educate them on the issue, if possible.

    It will not be hard to determine how they feel about homosexuals and homosexuality once the conversation gets going. However, if they refuse to discuss the issues, then you may have to face the fact that they may have already guessed about your sexual orientation, and they are not comfortable with it.

    Now you have to ask yourself -- How strongly do you want to push the issue?

    You can come out to them at this point, in an attempt to force them into discussing their feelings about it. If you decide to go down this road, you need to be prepared to face their anger and disappointment head on. Make no mistake; forcing them to face your sexual orientation is going to bring out strong reactions -- none of which are going to be encouraging. That does not mean they will not eventually work through their own homophobia. Just that they will not think through their feelings about homosexuality before they begin dumping it on you.

    Another option is to back off for the moment, and plan to bring up the topic again, and often. There is something to be said for gently pushing the envelope farther until it is opened. Using this method gives you the added advantage of having the opportunity to do research on the issues. Once completed, you can provide them with facts and resources that counter misconceptions that may be influencing their feelings.

    The third option is very difficult. After hearing severe disapproval, you can avoid coming out to them entirely. The biggest problem with this option is that eventually you will find you are not sharing any of your life with the people whom you have loved the most and the longest. Soon you will be unable to share any personal news with them for fear of using the wrong pronoun. Hopefully you will have an interesting and rewarding career, because that is all you will be able to discuss -- other than the weather, of course.

    No matter how you decide to come out to your parents, it is wise to offer them resources and information of support. Even the most accepting parent can use the information provided by PFLAG. If your parents prefer books, I recommend Beyond Acceptance, by Carolyn Welch Griffin, Marian J. Wirth and Arthur G. Wirth.

    The timing for coming out to family members is also important. Do not pick a holiday -- most holidays are stressful and memorable -- and the first reactions you receive may not be the kind you want in your scrapbooks. If there is to be any negative reactions, there is no reason to give it an official anniversary.

    Hopefully someday - someday soon - it will no longer be necessary to go through the fear and stress of coming out to loved ones and associates. Someday, God willing, I believe sexual orientation will be nothing more notable than the color of our eyes. Someday...

    Until next time...

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