Coming Out

10 Feb

Letterbalm Dark DoorDear LetterBalm: My good friend has been debating whether or not he should come out to his parents. He’s hesitating because he comes from an ultra-religious home. His parents are very active in their faith, which is conservative and not accepting of gays, abortion and contraception, among other things. He put himself through the college he wanted because they wouldn’t pay for his education if he didn’t go to a religious school. He has his own apartment now and a job in finance, which his folks think is godless work. But he feels bad that he has to lie to them about who he is and what he wants from life. I’m not gay, so I can’t know everything he’s going through. How can I help him?

–Friendly Persuasion

How regrettable it is when a child feels he can’t be his authentic self with his parents. Your friend’s folks have shown in many obvious ways that they do not validate the life he already has chosen. What does he think they will do when he tells them he’s gay? Ms. L.B. acknowledges that his pain and sorrow are constantly with him – it’s his responsibility to decide how true to himself he wants to be. She hopes he has a good counselor who is helping him through this. Sometimes one must create a new, loving family because the old one is family in name only. You can help him by letting him know you’ll support him no matter what:

Tony, I can’t possibly know what you’ve been going through. I have a loving family that’s proud of me and encourages me. Your parents’ beliefs have always clashed with who you are on a fundamental level. You’ve had to build your life entirely on your own; you haven’t been able to rely on their support at all. It’s torture that you can’t come out to them, that you can’t be totally honest. It’s good that you’re in therapy – God knows, you need someone objective and informed to guide you. Only you can decide what you can live with, including the possibility that your folks may never see you again if you tell them you’re gay. But know this: I will support you whatever you decide. You’re my friend and you’re family to me.

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