Just as there’s no real way to predict whether a child is going to be gay when they grow up, there’s also no telling how parents will react to that news when their kids finally comes out. That’s part of what makes coming out so daunting – will they embrace you? Will they shun you? Will they pretend you’re dead and send a condolence wreath to your place of work (seriously, this actually happened to someone and it’s the worst possible reaction I can imagine)?
Thankfully, the world we live in today is very different from even 10 or 20 years ago. Being LGBTQIA doesn’t carry nearly as much stigma as it once did, and many families are more than happy to adopt these progressive attitudes. Still, as these 18 AskReddit users will attest to, it can go in any number of ways:
#1. The Gift
My very conservative, quite homophobic father took me to Thailand for a graduation gift.
On the plane ride over we laughed and joked about how I was the tomboy of the family, and I was the most manly despite having three brothers.
One night of drinking at a sketchy open-air bar found me making eyes at a very lovely young Thai woman.
Daddy gave me a very hurt confused look as he saw me kiss this beautiful young woman.
Attempting damage control I started to explain.
“Daddy, you know how much of a tomboy I am? Well part of that is I’ve gotta love the ladies!”
Dad nodded sagely and proceeded to have a word with the bar manager. Money was exchanged.
Turns out my new friend was a prostitute and my dad just paid for her to come back to my hotel room.
Geez dad… thanks?
#2. A New Rule
“We know. No more sleepovers.”
I was 17.
#3. “What kind of tits do you like?”
My friend is bi.
When her mom found out, she was convinced it was just a phase.
Her dad was different.
“Dad, I like girls too.”
“Yeah that pussy is pretty fucking great.”
“… You know I’m being serious. I’m bi.”
“Yeah we’ve already established that. What kind of tits do you like?”
#4. Cancel the Russia trip.
I panicked but swallowed my fear and told them I was lesbian.
My dad was like, “…And?”
My mom needed a little time to get adjusted, and I had to cancel my language exchange in Russia, (because of their reputation for rampant and violent government-sponsored homophobia), but overall, pretty good.
#5. It’s not a contest.
“Dad, I like girls.”
“So do I. What do you want? A medal?”
My Mum was… squeaky.
It was kind of a shock that she was that uncomfortable with it. We literally had a Stonewall award hanging in our kitchen, because my Dad had done so much to help LGBT people. My Mum had helped him achieve that by financially supporting him so he could take on pro bono cases.
She kept saying she was fine, but she was about an octave too high for anyone to take that seriously.
When I said I had met my girlfriend at the LGBTa, and she asked what that meant, she freaked out as soon as I said the word “transgender” and told me to stop talking.
She had just detoxed from alcohol. She relapsed and was back in the hospital within 24 hours of me telling her. I knew she was an addict, but I was never able to shake the thought that she was making a statement about my relationship when she picked up the bottle that day.
We eventually came to a kind of stalemate on the issue where we didn’t really talk about it, but every now and again she’d say stuff like, “But, you won’t be able to have children, will you?” and I’d politely correct her.
You could almost see the internal battle raging behind her eyes whenever I said anything on the topic. She had always believed in gay rights and been pretty liberal but the further her addiction went, the more bigoted things she’d say.
I would have loved for my partner to have met my mother pre-addiction, but I kept them away from each other. It would be a hell of a lot harder to love my mother for who she was before she got sick if she had hurt the woman I loved, so I compartmentalised them and removed the opportunity completely.
She died a few years back, and whilst I am sad about it, I feel I made the right choice. It wasn’t about shame towards either of them; I just didn’t want either of them to suffer as a result of interacting with each other.
My staunchly Catholic Grandma (who in many ways felt like the stand-in for my Dad, as she was the only surviving immediate relative from his side of the family), on the other hand, kept telling me she loved me.
I told her I was happy to give her some time to absorb the information, because I knew it’d be quite a lot to take in… and within 3 hours she was cheerfully chatting about it with another relative (who knew but had been prepared for her to be a little shaken, because she was quite frail and was reconciling the news with a prejudiced upbringing).
Within 24 hours she was informing me that she wanted pictures of my girlfriend. I wasn’t expecting that, but I probably should have been, because she loved photos and always wanted to know what our partners looked like!
She said that my SO had lovely eyes, told me that she didn’t even know lesbianism existed until she was 21 and kept telling me how much she loved me that she was proud of me. It was one of the most profound and healing experiences of my life.
I guess what I learnt from all that is that the people you love and think you know can always surprise you, for good or bad reasons.
It’s OK to draw up distance to protect yourself, but doing it pre-emptively can sometimes rob you of profoundly loving experiences from people who don’t give a damn about ideology when their relationship with someone they love is in the mix.
Also, sometimes when people give you a bad reaction, it says far more about what they are going through than their views on homosexuality or you… And, that’s sad but it’s OK as well.
If my mother had recovered and become more herself again, it would have been great to introduce them to each other without addiction being a kind of malevolent third party sucking all the joy from the room.
We can only work with the hand we’re dealt, though, and I do not regret protecting them from what would have been a disastrous interaction.
Be brave, guys, but don’t go back into situations if you know they will hurt you.
I texted my mum, and then I bailed out.
I was in my English class when it happened, and I don’t know why. We were watching Billy Elliot and I just felt like I had to do it.
Having them not know was really making me panic. I skirted around it for a bit, just saying shit like, “I have to tell you something. You’re going to hate me,” etc.
I never actually texted the words “I’m gay.”
Instead, after I said, “You’re going to hate me,” she said, “I could never hate you.”
I replied with, “You hated [sister].”
That’s the last message I sent, and she didn’t reply after that.
I ran out of my English class, because I was having a panic attack.
When I got home I just sat in my room, and a few hours later when my mum got home she came in my room, she didn’t say anything and she just put my favourite chocolate on the end of my bed.
Bad: Making me worry by not texting me.
Good: Not making a big deal out of it.
#8. South Park IRL
Mom told the whole family and asked for advice. She told me she still accepts me and loves me, and we both cried a bit.
My dad and I did not talk about it. He just gave me some extra allowance money…
Yes, just like the South Park episode.
#9. “I miss her greatly.”
Mother found a note I wrote that read in part, “I think you’re a cute guy.”
She freaked out. My family didn’t talk to me until two weeks later, right after graduating high school. My step dad and mom sat me down and told me I needed me to move out that night.
They allowed me to keep the few clothes I had purchased myself. But, I had no car, nor money, and a dead phone.
They allowed me to make one phone call to get a friend to get me, but then I had to stand by the road off of their property.
Years passed, and I didn’t speak to any of my family. They didn’t reach out for contact at all. Until, one day, out of the blue, my grandmother calls.
She apologized for not standing up to my mother. She also said, “What mother would throw her own minor son out on the street over being gay?” She said she didn’t understand the “gay thing,” but she still loved me more than her own children.
My grandmother and I’s relationship grew really strong after that. She gave me her extra car and sent me money to clean myself up and get a better job and apartment.
Eventually she got really sick, so I made the decision to move into her spare room and take care of her. She passed away in January of 2016.
She was the true voice of love and tolerance. I miss her greatly.
Things may get terrible, but always pick yourself up. Family isn’t always blood, friends can be the best family.
Don’t let someone tell you loving the same sex is wrong. You can’t change who you love.
#10. “Uh, no.”
When I told my mom, she looked a little confused for a while, then said, “Well couldn’t you just marry a gay man and have a woman lover on the side?”
Uh, no. Not doing that.
#11. “I love my parents…”
I told them, and my Mom looks at my dad:
“Haha! Told you!”
I love my parents…
#12. The Turnaround
Kicked me out. No more financial support.
That was their dumb move as before that they could manipulate me with money.
Our relationship improved after they couldn’t manipulate me anymore. I had a job and moved in with my girlfriend and was happier than I’d ever been.
Planning on proposing to her this summer.
Also: my parents have done a 180 since then. My mom texts my girlfriend instead of me, dad invited us and gf’s family up to the lake house this weekend, etc.
They even offered to pay for our wedding should we decide to get married.
Me: “Mum, Dad, I’m gay.”
Mum: “You know we will still want grandchildren.”
#14. “I know…”
My mom asked me if I was gay and I said yes.
Later, when she was pumping gas, I saw she was crying.
I got out of the car and said, “I know… Gas prices are outrageous.”
#15. “It completely changed the path of my life.”
I told my sisters first, separately, when I was 19 years old. Both of them hugged me and told me that they’d known since I was 4 years old.
I then asked them why they couldn’t have just told me that they knew all along, because it would have made my teenage years in particular a lot easier. They both just wanted me to come to terms with it on my own.
When I started dating my first boyfriend, I introduced him to my family as my friend, and he and I started spending more and more time together.
When I realized how much I liked him, I went home one day and sat down across from my mother and said to her: “You know Matty isn’t just my friend, right?” And she looked me square in the face and said: “I know,” and started crying.
When I asked her why she was crying, she told me that she was just so glad that I was finally happy again. I had suffered from some pretty severe depression during my teenage years, and she could see that this guy was bringing me out of it and was incredibly grateful for it.
She ended up telling my dad, (because I just couldn’t bring myself to do it), a few days later ,when he told my mom in conversation that he was worried Matty might be gay and I probably shouldn’t spend too much time with him.
My mom replied: “Ralph, what do you think ____ is?”
And, it suddenly struck him that I was gay. Instead of freaking out, I think it just confirmed for him something that he had known all along as well.
Both of my parents have become two of my biggest supporters since immediately after I came out, even though I was incredibly worried that my father would disown me.
My twin brother found out a few days later. Matty slept over one night, and things got out of hand, and I woke up with a hickey on my neck.
When my brother saw it later that morning, he tackled me to the floor and started throwing punches at me. I was always stronger than he was, so I flipped him off of me and Matty and my mother held him back from me, all the while he’s screaming: “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS GOING TO DO TO MY REPUTATION?!?!”
He ended up storming out of the house and peeling out of the driveway in my mother’s car.
He called me 3 days later, sobbing. Apparently, he went to his friends and started bitching about how he found out that I was gay, and all of his friends just kind of shrugged and said that they had figured for years and didn’t really give a shit.
I don’t really talk to my brother anymore, because he’s basically a worthless turd when it comes to stuff like this.
Matty and I have been together for 8 years. We own our own house and have 2 dogs and a cat.
It’s been pretty great, and despite one shitty reaction from my twin brother, my coming out was pain free and the best thing I ever did for myself.
It completely changed the path of my life.
Mum: “Are you doing anything tomorrow?”
Me: “Actually… I am going on a date?”
Mum: “With a guy or a girl?”
Me: “A guy”
She told me that she already knew and told me about other gay friends she knew. Overall extremely supportive!
Came out to my dad in a similar way.
Friend came out to her parents after I told her to get it over with.
We were all hanging around her living room, and her Dad’s response was, “I used to do cocaine.”
#18. Baby Steps
My mom cried and kept trying to tell me how I was actually straight, even providing examples: I’d never dated a boy, I’d only kissed one once… She didn’t get very far.
It just remained something we didn’t talk about for six months, until I was dating someone, and then it was:
“Hanging out with Sydney.”
“OK. Be home by 9.”
And, there was a conversation at one point where she said, “But, she looks like a guy!”
I just replied by saying I liked butch girls and walking to my room with my snacks. I was 17.
A year later I went on my first date with my current girlfriend. My mom heard about it through the grapevine and asked why I didn’t tell her. I told her I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable.
She scoffed and said it didn’t matter if she was uncomfortable, because it was my life, and she wanted to know about it.
Now she’s good about it.
Still a little awkward, but she’s nice to my girlfriend and respects our relationship. She appreciates how much my girlfriend helps me with my anxiety and everything I’ve been dealing with lately, too.
She did, however, get extra drunk the first time I slept over at GFs house. So, baby steps.