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My Coming Out - Part 2 : My Parents' Reaction

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This was my Dad's response (Click to enlarge)
Before you crack into Part 2, I suggest you read My Coming Out - Part 1 : My Letter to My Parents since this post is about their reaction to that.

Coming out to your friends is never really that hard. Either they're a true friend who's always there for you and accepts you for who you are, or a friend you could never count on. But when it comes to parents and family, that's when things start to get a little more complex.

Some people's parents make the fact they're homophobic very clear, and often warn that if their son or daughter comes out as gay they'll get kicked out of the house, etc. But this article will be for those of you who have parents who might say "gay marriage is stupid" and make petty homophobic jokes. A sort of not "really homophobic but tease gays a little bit anyway". There's a subtle difference I've found.

So as you can imagine, I wasn't sure how my Dad would take the news. I had no doubts for my Mum, but my Dad's opposition to gay marriage had me doubting.

After printing out my coming out letter, putting it in an envelope, writing my parents' address on it and buying a stamp in a newsagents, it was finally ready to be sent. I still wondered though, was I ready to send it? Before I even had time to think, my hand had already reached out and slipped it into the postbox outside that very same newsagents. "Shit" I thought, "what have I done?"

My macho Dad, after reading the letter sent me a love heart in a text message. That alone would have been enough to make me cry. I'm pretty sure that was the first time he had ever sent me a love heart and I'm not embarrassed - that's cute. He went and collected my Mum from work that day and brought my letter with him. The first thing my Mum did when she read the letter on the way home was ring her best friend to say "Guess what?! Patrick's gay!" and laugh about her life.

That evening my parents and my sister rang me on speakerphone. We basically went through the whole letter in detail. After about a half an hour, Mum finally asked me the question which I judged the most important. "So what's Jeff like and what does he do?" Even if my parents had accepted me but didn't ask about my boyfriend I wouldn't have been a lot happier, but since they did, that was the moment I knew I had nothing to worry about. We joked about the two of us not having any trouble keeping my small 17m² apartment tidy with all our stuff in it because we're gay and gays are stereotypically tidy. I even asked Dad about his "gay marriage is stupid" comment, and it turns out he's for a civil union with the same rights as marriage, in other words I managed to convince him after 10 minutes of debate that gay marriage is important. Then I brought up my sister's "gay people are disgusting" comment since she was saying that gay marriage is a good idea on the phone. She dug herself into a deeper hole so we all laughed it off at her expense since it was clear she had no reasoning to justify her acts. She apologized sincerely and said she hoped she'd never made me feel bad about myself. We're very close and I know she would never have wanted that. Mum even said "let me know when the next gay rights demonstration is and tell me what you want me to write on my placard". So, tout va bien dans le meilleur des mondes ! (It's bringing a tear to my eye just thinking about it again!)

As you can see from the picture above, clearly, after a year and a half, I didn't have a lot to worry about in the end (and that my Dad is still his precautious and paranoid self). Now, everything was at last out in the open. My parents knew I was gay, that I'm in a long-term relationship with my boyfriend, that I'm an activist, that I'm a founder of an activist association and a QUILTBAG collab blog. They knew everyone knows except my family. When and how would I come out to them? And that was the next question after "What took you so long?" and "Why did you have trouble telling us?" which they still ask me today even though I've explained so many times.

The reason it sometimes takes longer to come out to your parents is because unlike friends, your parents and your family will always be linked to you all your life. They'll probably be there for your wedding if you get married. They're always going to be in your life, even if they cut you out or you cut them out, they'll always end up popping up every now and then. You can never erase your parents, whereas an untrue friend is never that much of a loss over time. Parents that don't love their child for who they are are not good parents. Being L, G, B or T is hard enough without extra stress.

Read My Coming Out - Part 3 : Telling the Grandparents.

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