Guidelines for Coming Out to Parents

1. Be clear yourself first. Tell them when you have accepted your own sexual orientation and are comfortable and happy with this. Then it is important to express this to your parents. If you are not comfortable or happy, they will perceive this incongruity between your words and feelings and they will want to try to change you.

2. Tell them about your sexual orientation when things are going well for both you and them, or during a period when there is relative tranquility in your lives.

3. Do not come out during an argument because this knowledge may then become a weapon to be used to cause pain to everyone.

4. It is okay to tell only one parent initially if that is easier or more comfortable for you. It is important that both parents know eventually.

5. Begin by telling your parents that you love them. If you do not usually say these things, then find other positive thoughts to share.

6. Be prepared for your parents to be upset and hurt by this news. Your parents may respond with anger, but try not to be defensive and angry also. Be prepared also for your parents to say "I've know this for many years" or to say nothing. Different parents react differently.

7. Give them the time and distance they need to assimilate this information.

8. Tell them that you are still the same person and you hope they will continue to love you.

9. Try to maintain open lines of communication. Your parents are going to go through a period of adjustment as well -- feelings of guilt, lost dreams, and greater uncertainty of the future. Sometimes they just need time.

10. Get reading materials and share them with your parents. Get the address and phone number of the local Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and give it to your parents.

11. It is probably more important for you to come out to your parents than it is for them. Do not force the discussion further if your parents are not ready to continue the dialogue at this time. Sometimes they just need some time and space to process this information and gain some perspective.