Updated: Jun 26
When your child comes out as LGBTQ+ it can be a difficult and emotional time for them. As parents, if we can do something to ease the struggles of this time for them, then we should give our best efforts.
Many LGBTQ+ teens face bullying and lack of acceptance in school, so it is important to keep their mental health in mind.
This year for pride month, I have asked the LGBTQ+ teens in my life to share about their coming out experiences with the hope that it will be enlightening and helpful for other parents.
My daughter and her partner were the first "out" couple in their friend group, so they blazed the way for some of their other friends to feel comfortable coming out as well.
What Teens Have to Say
I asked my daughter and her fiancé, what tips would you give parents when their teen is coming out? What is the best way to show you are supportive? Also, how did you feel when you came out?
Here is what Phyre said:
My aunt completely ignored the idea and that was frustrating. My dad rarely communicated with me about it, making it feel like it wasn't something I could discuss with him. I suppose it's overall best to avoid such behaviors. As far as how I felt: I was living with people that weren't supportive, so it felt like somewhat of a taboo subject. I think I would have felt far more comfortable if there had been a consistent open dialogue. My family also consistently voiced their unsupportive opinions about the community, make me feel somewhat like an outcast because I knew they would never accept me for who I am.
It hurts my heart to know that they aren't well accepted in their family of origin, and have had to struggle with being out. Through it all though, they have maintained a caring relationship with my daughter, Atlantis.
Unfortunately, this lack of acceptance and positive communication is something that many LGBTQ+ teens experience.
So, when your teen comes out to you, it is important to react in a kind and accepting manner. If there are things that you are confused about, ask questions. Keeping open communication with your child or teen is important.
For more coming out stories from LGBTQ+ Teens, you can check out:
Your Teen Mag - they have 3 stories from teens who came out and how it was received. Some speak of love and acceptance, others the difficulties of coming out. One teen was kicked out of a religious organization, another was kicked out of the house. These are the difficulties that are the reality for many LGBTQ+ children and teens.
Reach Out - This is the story of one young man's coming out at school, how he coped with bullying, and the friends who stuck by him.
How do You Want Your Child or Teen to Talk About Their Experience?
When your child or teen comes out, put yourself in their shoes. How would you want them to talk about their coming out experience in the future? Do you want it to be a story about love, acceptance and hope? A story about bullying and overcoming adversity?
My gut tells me that you chose a story about love and acceptance.
Think about how your words and actions can show acceptance and love to your child or teen in whatever way possible.
You can start by telling them that you love them and accept them no matter what. You can let them know that you support them, and that nothing they could do would ever change your love for them.
Then, you can ask how best to show your support.
Depending on your child or teen's age, they may have already come out to others, or you may be the first person that they are talking to about this. Whether you are the first or last person that they choose to tell, remember that this is an act of extreme trust and vulnerability on their part.
I wasn't the first person that my daughter came out to. She talked to her dad first, and his reaction to "I need to tell you something" was to ask if she was pregnant.
When my daughter came out to me and told me that she was bisexual and she was dating Phyre, my stupid response was, "Does Phyre still live in Nebraska?" Because they were long distance. When she said yes, I told her, "That's unfortunate."
I had suspected for a while that Atlantis was a lesbian and that they were more than friends, so I was actually surprised that she came out as bisexual instead of lesbian. I told her that I'm bisexual too, and we moved forward per usual and went to wash up for dinner.
I wasn't the savviest mom in response to my daughter's coming out, but I have always tried to show my support for her individually, and for her relationship with Phyre as well.
As parents, I have always felt that it is our job to support each other no matter what, and to help them navigate all of life's challenges.
Being LGBTQ+ in society is still often met with a lack of acceptance, so if we can show as much acceptance as possible at home, then we can help to combat the negative messages that may come from school or other places.
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