I'm gay. How do I tell my parents?

Hey,

I’m 24, and for the last year and a half I have lived openly as gay man to everyone except my family, who reside 1000 miles from where I live and work.

My childhood household was very devout and I worry that the news will come as a shock to my father and especially to my mother, who (for lack of a better term) seems emotionally weak and liable to be devastated when she hears that her son has traded Mass for a boyfriend.

I do want to preserve a relationship with my parents because I love them, but if they refuse to let this matter rest, or make demands, I will walk out of their lives.

I’d like to tell them soon and am thinking of doing it when I fly home for Christmas, although that means I’d be “ruining Christmas” for my parents. Alternatively I could ignore the problem, as I have for years up until this point.

How do I make this easy on everyone? If I was your son, how would you want me to tell you? Appreciate your thoughts.

I think you need to just sit them down and have the conversation. No time is going to be good, so you can’t put it off forever. Out of curiosity, are you still religious, since you are asking here? Or are you asking here because of your parents’ faith?

I’m not going to talk about the way you’ve decided to handle your orientation. That is not your question, I think giving what is clearly unsolicited advice is a bad habit, so let’s leave that alone.

Let me start by saying that this is one of those matters where, right or wrong, you may ethically keep your privacy. Your parents might feel emotionally upset if you do or do not tell, but in spite of the TMI ethos of our times, you do not owe this information to others. If you think someone would dislike you if they knew things about you that are none of their business, that doesn’t mean their strong emotional response gives them a right to know. You’d have to tell a woman you want to marry, you’d have to tell a seminary if you were to seek ordination, you’d have to tell others who have a compelling reason to know, but you don’t have to tell your parents. (No, wanting to guess whether or not you will ever give them grandchildren in NOT a compelling reason for parents to pry into the affairs of their children. It is NOT lying to keep your own counsel about sex.)

When decided whether to tell your parents and how to do it, always ask yourself these questions:
a) What is my goal here?
b) Is that goal reasonable, just, and attainable? If not, what do I do about that?
c) If the goal attainable, is the means I’m considering a realistic way to reach it?
d) What are the risks–the risk of doing nothing, the risk of pursuing this particular goal or that, the risk of choosing this or that means of pursuing that goal?
e) Do I have the skills to do what I plan to do?
f) What is Plan B? What if nothing goes as I planned and the worst happens, instead?

I have found in my life that it is sometimes worthwhile to think of similar situations that I might face, and how I would handle them. What can I learn from those situations–because since they are imaginary, sometimes I can think of them with a clearer head. What if my orientation was such that I had lots of one-night stands with women and no commitment? What then? (If it matters that the orientation is biological or not, make it like what you feel you have.) Would I be drawing my boundaries in the same way? How would my obstacles be alike or different? What I I had a girlfriend that my parents would not want me to marry? Would I be trading a situation where I keep my mouth shut to keep the peace for one where they have to keep their mouth shut, for the same reason? What does thinking about this situation or that teach me about what I think of my parents? Is that fair to think that of them? How would I handle their various possible responses? (I’d ask if it were just, but you’re not going to be making their moral decisions for them.) And so on.

My initial reaction is to remind you that it is your prerogative to keep your sex life secret from your parents, but you know your parents and what they expect from you. You know how transparent to them you have to feel in order to be comfortable around them–although it might surprise you to know that they are almost 100% certain to be keeping private things private from you without a second thought!! Adults have that prerogative, even with parents.

Even if she were to ask a direct question, reminding your mother that you value your privacy and therefore do not plan to discuss the matter with her is not lying. A lie of omission is when you fail to tell someone who has a right to know. Your parents do not have a right to know this. If ignoring the issue has worked for you, consider doing that more. Think about how you will talk about this with them in the event you are “outed”, but I’d feel free to leave my parents ignorant of all aspects of my sex life. It is not their business. I am the kind, however, that is not eaten up by knowing I have secrets that would upset someone else. Of course I do. The only question is what those secrets have to do with the person(s) I’m keeping them from. The vast majority of the time, what they don’t know won’t become a hassle for me, and we are more compatible than if I’d confronted them with our differences.

Let us say you decide you want to tell them. Let us say you feel it is a self-betrayal to not tell them.

If you have a very discrete godparent or a close relative you can confide in or if you know how to reach a long-time pastor of your parents, consider consulting them for insights into your parents. Considering your assessment of your mother, I’d ask that you consider telling your father alone first. Ask him guidance about a) whether to tell your mom, b) how to tell your mom, and c) when to tell your mom. I think it will go better if you can at least tell your two parents separately, one on one, because they will not have to concern themselves with how the other one is reacting. They’ll each be able to have their own reaction, their own response. You won’t have the awkward situation of the three of you “sitting down together” for what they will be able to surmise is some sort of a bombshell.

I don’t have a lot of patience for the “you’ve ruined my _________” response, like the person who will accuse you of ruining an entire weekend because you dared to have a quarrel with them on Sunday night. Still, that is a very real prospect. If your parents are in the habit of running that kind of a guilt trip, let them go on that trip alone. Tell them either while you still have the option of changing your Christmas plans entirely or else shortly before you leave to go home. Your news might not “ruin Christmas” for them, but the way they decide to handle it could ruin a lot of hours of a lot of days for you. You do not have to put yourself in harm’s way, and it is probably better for everyone to deny others a chance to treat you badly. You can thank yourself for all the things that were never said and that no one is later able to forget were said.

EasterJoy has given superb advice. In most families, especially religious ones, such an admission would only give great pain to the parents. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose by “fessin’ up”!
You might well consider talking with a priest before taking any further action in this matter.

On your post, you put 2 adjectives, that, to me, seem to conflict. You put “agnostic” first, and then “Catholic” second. To me, you are either agnostic or Catholic. You can’t be both.

If you are agnostic, you are maybe unsure of the existence of God. If you are Catholic, you know he exists, and there is a set of beliefs which accompany that.

Now, with pretty much anyone who would post on the forum and says he was in a state of mortal sin, my normal policy is to at least try to persuade him to stop for his own good. I am Catholic, completely. I believe the whole set of beliefs, the Bible, Catechism, saints, popes, the Blessed Virgin Mary, everything! I honestly believe, with all my heart and soul, in heaven, purgatory, and hell.

Descriptions of hell are VERY bad. I don’t know if you have read any of them. The saints have relayed a few of them to us. St. Padre Pio said that the fires of even purgatory are MUCH worse than any earthly fires. He said to compare the fires of earth to those of purgatory would be like comparing regular water to boiling water.

St. Faustina, likewise, said that the majority of people there didn’t believe in it (until they were there). St. Padre Pio also said one would believe in hell, once there.

St. Faustina lists 7 torments of hell.

She said the first torment was the loss of God. The second was perpetual remorse. The third was knowing this condition would never change. This fire will penetrate your soul, without destroying it and be lit by God’s anger. Anyone in hell is in Satan’s constant company. For the rest, go to:

divinemercysunday.com/vision.htm

In your post, you said you had traded mass (God) for a boyfriend, and I think that’d be an accurate assessment of the situation. However, one thing you need to realize is that if you continue to deliberately go against the Church, and God, neither will be there later when you would like to seek comfort, protection and salvation.

It seems you have been given a choice, God or a boyfriend.

I believe with all my being that God is real, hard as it would be for some others to accept. I would hope, if it came to it, I’d rather lay down my life than deliberately break God’s commandments or displease him.

The Bible says how he created us, male and female. You already know the rest.

I would like you to know that you have a choice, that there have been others, even on the forum who have experienced same-sex attraction and managed to lead good, Catholic lives, but not much is normally heard of them. People seem to like to cover these cases up.

I’m going to end by giving you just one website of such folks:

couragerc.net/

and hope you would reconsider your position since everything, absolutely everything, is riding on your next decision.

May God guide your steps and bless you.

I’ll close with a prayer:

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blest is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. :gopray:

Like EasterJoy, my first thought is “do you need to tell them?”

But your statement above perplexes me. On the one hand, you say you love your parents, but on the other, you say that anything less than straight up acceptance of your lifestyle will lead you to abandon them! Do you really expect your parents to immediately take in this news and then wish you all the best till you visit again? Have a bit of empathy with your parents. Allow them the privilege of expressing their emotions. Be understanding if their beliefs and love for you cause them to implore you to abandon what they believe is the wrong path for your life. Be patient, and return some of the love they have shown you for 24 years.

Kolya111,

Im glad you are asking here. You are offered a cross from our Lord. We all are. Some seems more than others. With God and a sincere faith, all things are possible.

Please consider this question. How is it you can tell the Lord you have chosen another way but you struggle to tell your parents?

You see, if you are strong in Him, then whatever you tell others comes from Him. Do not have anxiety over anything…planning the conversation and how you will react to their reaction. Be true, and do what is right.

Do not be afraid you may leave them. Be afraid you may leave God.

Peace and God give you strength,
Michael

I’m not sure if that will really help the OP. If he does choose to begin living chastely in accordance with Catholic teachings, then surely it should be more out of love for God than fear of hell per se?

May the love of God and the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ and the strength of the Holy Ghost be with you during what must be “heart-wrenching” decisions. I wish you happiness, the support of close family and friends. Most of all I wish you peace:thumbsup:

I’m not sure if that will really help the OP. If he does choose to begin living chastely in accordance with Catholic teachings, then surely it should be more out of love for God than fear of hell?

Thank you for taking the time to come here and share your story. Please be assured of my prayers for you and for your journey in life.

It must have taken a great deal of courage to come here and ask your question. Perhaps you were concerned about getting a lecture on living the homosexual lifestyle or on chastity or returning to the church, but despite those possible concerns you came here anyway! That is a good thing and it shows you have a great deal of love for your family and want to do the right thing. God bless you. Please know that many here will be praying for you and that we have all had our struggles.

You are asking a question about your parents, having had struggles with my own family members (over different issues) this is about all I can offer you: You might need to come to terms with the fact that your family may not be capable of supporting you in the way that you wish. I know that probably hurts. I had issues with family where I went to family hoping for “support” and came up empty. I would get upset and angry and the cycle would repeat. Finally my husband told me that for my own sake and for theirs, I needed to realize their limitations, and that they were not capable of giving me the emotional support that I needed.

Now many of our family gatherings are short, we talk about the weather and trivial matters but that is okay. We are a family and we are doing the best that we can. All of us are broken and battered and doing the best we can to make it through this life!

I know that you deeply desire your parents to embrace you as you are living, and that you want them to validate your lifestyle. The culture is screaming that if they don’t you should cut them out of your life forever. Ask yourself what can they give you? Really what are they capable of? You know them. If you believe that this is something that they cannot do at this time then simply don’t ask. Save it for another time, pray about it, wait. Ultimately it is about what they can give you, if your parents cannot give you support, there is no point in asking for it.

There is no point in asking a broke man for money is there? If someone does not have it to give then it makes no sense to ask. This does not mitigate your desire for support, it just means that if the purpose in telling your family is to seek support then you should have some knowledge beforehand that support will be available to you. Otherwise, take your family (as I have) for what they are which is a group of people that are imperfect, broken, fallen but trying and get through the holidays as best as you can. You didn’t ask this but my guess is that your family probably already knows, or at least has suspicions about your homosexuality anyway, so everyone is keeping this issue private which is fine since it works for your family, at least at this time. Hope this helps a little. Blessings.

Im responding as a Mother of an adult child who only tells me what she thinks I want to hear.I would LOVE for her to have the courage to just come out and talk to me. Sure I might go all ballistic at first but I love my daughter and I have to let her live her life. All I can do for her is pray.
Have the courage to talk to your parents. Let them get angry and get it out of their system. Dont let them find out via rumors or someone else. Love them enough to trust them. Have enough respect for them to be honest with them.
God Bless

If you where my son then I would want you to be straight to the point with me. Regardless of how you are going to do this there will be tears and lots of anger. Though I do wonder why you have traded Jesus for something that will die eventually.

:shrug:

That doesn’t make much sense. Wanting them to accept you and still love you is reasonable. Offering an ultimatum and threatening to walk out on their lives if they don’t accept it is not. That’s not what someone looking to preserve a relationship does.

I don’t know. I just know that the saints…of Fatima…ALL had a vision of hell as one of the key elements of the experience. Then, we had St. Faustina…likewise, had a vision of hell. St. John Bosco…had his kids at his orphanage, and he also had a vision of hell. He was actually told to touch the outermost wall of it. He was told that if he truly wanted to help young people entrusted to his care, he MUST do this!

The guide forced him to, and the skin of his hand fell off, even in real life.

Even MORE saints than that have had visions of hell! So, though some may feel this is not helpful, God seemed to disagree.

There are a couple of things to consider here. The first is, how close do you want to be with your parents? If you want to be able to enjoy a few holidays every year and a couple quick phone calls the rest of the year, telling them isn’t as important. But if you want to be genuinely close and open, and share your life with them, then you obviously have to tell.

The second issue is your partner. Are you in a long term relationship now? If so, how does he feel about not meeting your family? If you aren’t in a relationship then keep in mind that a lot of men won’t date you unless you are completely out, because understandably, they don’t want to be your dirty secret.

The third consideration is where you will go if your family can’t accept you. Do you have a friend whose family you are close to? What about your boyfriend’s family? It’s important that you won’t be on your own and that you’ll still have a loving support network.

If you know your parents will disapprove then there is no reason to bring it up. You both love each other but have a minor quibble about sexual ethics. They think sex is preserved for marriage and you don’t. Leave it at that. If you want to preserve a relationship with them then don’t give them any ultimatums about how they must accept your lifestyle.

For example, there are members in my family who don’t think drinking alcohol is moral. I do. I would never hurt our relationship by saying, “accept my drinking or I’m through with you.” I save my drinking for when I’m not around them and as far as they know I’m a teetotler.

I’m also going to add that if you plan to have kids, either through adoption, surrogacy, whatever, that you tell them sooner rather than later. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you have to say “Mom, Dad, I’m gay. But wait, there’s more! This is my long term boyfriend Carlos and our beautiful daughter Amber”. That would be a lot to throw on anyone, and even if they fully accepted you, they would be understandably hurt to be the last to know and to find out like that.

There’s also one more thing you want to consider. Parents tend to relax and open their hearts when grandchildren are involved. If things go south with your parents, you need to think of how open to reconciliation you will be and when. I say this because if you build a family, you may find that they want to be a part of it. Many people have had their hearts changed by having a gay child, your parents wouldn’t be the first, but it may take some time.

Ditch the boyfriend. What, are you stupid? Go to confession.

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