OUR BLOG

23 September
Coming Out

10 LGBTQ People and their Parents Discuss Coming Out

Talking to our parents about sexuality and gender identity can be a daunting task, but being open and honest with our loved ones about our identities is often a rewarding experience. In the theme of Parents Week, we asked some lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gay individuals to sit down with their parents and discuss what it was like when they came out and what advice they would offer to other parents with LGBTQ children.

[Jack] - 28 Gay from Cork
[Marie] - Mother

Q: Describe your coming out process?
[Marie] - Jack came out to me when he was 15.
[Jack] - My coming out experience was very easy. It was pre-empted by my Mam. One day we were in the car and my Mam turned to me and said you can be anything you want to be and I will be with you every step of the way and as long as you are happy then I will be happy.  Just after a year after that I actually came out and I had no anxiety what so ever. I knew that my Mam was 100% behind me and felt very comfortable.
[Marie] - I had a suspicion that Jack might be gay but I didn’t want to put him under any pressure, I thought a gentle reminder that I would always be there for him might be helpful.

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?
[Marie] - Don’t assume anything, just be there for your kid and remember to show your love and support.

***

[Brendan] - 32 Bisexual from Dublin/London

[Sile] - Mother

Q: Describe your coming out process?

[Brendan] - I came out as Bi when I was 13 and nearly 20 years later I'm still Bi. My mother was one of the few people who was supportive and believed in my decision. Often as a bisexual man I have to defend my decisions that I not gay or straight but a mixture of both. A lot of people think I am in denial and that I am either gay or straight but my Mother has backed me up from day one.

There is not a whole pile of bisexual male role models out there, so sometimes I feel like its a bit of a lonely road. But having my mother in the corner has been huge for me. Over the last few years I have go involved in Bi- + Ireland network and both myself and my mother have marched under the Bi + Ireland flags at Pride. On September 23, my mother and I both will be wearing the bisexual flag on our outfits for Bi-Visibility day. Its the small things like this that my mothers do that make a huge difference for me and my acceptance of my sexuality and sexual preference.

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?

[Sile] Sometimes it an easy path, sometimes it will be a difficult path for a LGBT child, but as a mother of bisexual child, I feel that its my job to be there for them to make sure that path is as smooth as possible.

***

[Eoin] - 26 Gay from Wexford
[Patricia] - Mother

Q: Describe your coming out process?
[Eoin] I came out to my parents when I was 16.
[Eoin] I had been sneaky out of the house drinking because I could not deal with the fact that I was gay.  I was having a lot of difficulty in school with bulling and felt under a huge pressure. Secondary school was a really difficult time for me and I felt like I did not fit in at all. I really wanted to tell my mother but I was too overwhelmed, eventually it kind of slipped out.
[Patricia] I had caught him one night trying to get back into the house. We sat down and he began to really cry and I asked what was up, Eoin then admitted that he was gay and he felt like a huge disappointment to us. I immediately hugged him and let him know that all was fine and that I loved him no matter what. We talked thing over and I said that I would talk to his dad first and Eoin had huge anxieties about coming out to his dad so I help soften the blow and we discuss things before Eoin came out to his dad.

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?
[Patricia]
School can be very tough for a gay child, may sure that their school has a good policy around homophobia and bullying and that it’s enforced

***
[Mark] - 34 Gay from Dublin
[Louise] - Mother

Q: Describe your coming out process?
[Mark]
- I came out when I was 33 (last year)
[Mark] - My father died unexpectedly (a couple of months before) and I felt very guilty that I did not tell him the truth about me being gay. After the referendum I got the inspiration to come out
[Louise] - I would have loved my son no matter what but the marriage equality referendum was a big turning point for me. I learned a lot during this period and I think when I told Mark that I voted yes that it made the coming out process a lot easier for him

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?
[Louise]
- I still had a few questions and Mark told me that one of his friends worked on the LGBT helpline and was able to ring in and get some support. It was very helpful for me at the time just even talking to someone supportive on the phone was a big help

***

[Giovanna] - 29 Transgender MTF living in Dublin, from Belo Horizonte, Brazil

[Maria] - Mother

Q: Describe your coming out process?

[Giovanna] - I came out twice, first came out as a gay man then as a Trans-woman. My first coming out was very easy in comparison to my second. It took me a while to grow and accept that I was Trans.  My mother was coming from Brazil to Ireland to see me so I decided to come out to my mother over skype before she arrived. At this stage I still at the early stages of accepting who I was and I had not told anyone else yet. I had been slowly becoming more and more isolated, I was very secretive about myself and did not make too much of an effort to make friends.

I am blessed with my mother she was very accepting, I have a large number of friends both Brazilian and Irish who are still in the closet. There is a huge freedom and liberation that I can be truthful and honest with my mother. It was the first step in gaining some confidence and making friends.

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?

[Maria] - Be there for your child is my main advise, we live worlds apart but we would Skype regularly. I know there is a lot of trans-phobia in the world (In Giovanna case, I seen it first hand from her father). As a mother, I made it 100% clear that I would be there for my child and she could come to me with anything.

***
[Claire]
- 35 Lesbian from Galway
[Marie] - Mother

Q: Describe your coming out process?
[Claire]
- I came out when I turned 31
[Claire] - I did things a very wrong way, I came out over Facebook.
[Marie] - I was initially mad at Claire. I rarely use Facebook so I was told by one of my friends. I felt a little embarrassed that I didn’t know something so major about my daughter 
[Claire] - For me I just wanted to do it all in one go and I didn’t really think things through. I felt like I was coming out at a very old age (though now I realise everyone is different and a lot of friends would of come out at an older age)

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?
[Claire]
- Take time to consider how your parents feel, it takes you a months/years to accept yourself, sometimes it may take your parents a small bit of time.

***

[Claire] - 37 Bisexual from Laois

[Maeve] - Mother

Q: Describe your coming out process?

[Claire] - I'm still in the process of coming out but my journey started with my Mum. I had been dating guys exclusively in my 20's and early 30's but I often found myself attracted to women but secretly hid this feelings because I  never stopped having feelings towards men. After my 35th birthday, there was a girl at work who I definitely had strong feelings for and it was the first time I allowed these feelings developed. I began to think at this stage I was a lesbian so I sat down with my Mum. After talking things through and discussing my feelings she was able to help to verbalize that I was bisexual. It is something very obvious now but it was not something that I ever thought about previously. At times it feel easier to pick a side and either being lesbian or straight, I had experience some bullying growing up and I am a bigger girl, so if I could I would chose to be Lesbian or Straight particularly since there is not a large community of bisexual and there isn't the same level of acceptance or support. At points of loneliness and isolation, it is great to have my Mum support so I can at least verbalize these feelings. 

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?
[Maeve] - Your child might be confused when they talk to you and they might be living with shame and guilt for days/week/months and even years. Simply being there for them can be the greatest gift that you could give.

***

[Dan] - 28 Gay from Dublin
[Denis] - Father

Q: Describe your coming out process?
[Dan] - I came out after I finished college (22)
[Denis] - The conversation was initially very short, Dan told me he was gay and I said that’s ok and immediately moved on with the conversation. Dan was playing sport through school and college and was captain of the rugby team and at the time and I guess I had an idea that you had to be a certain way in order to be gay. I was in shock initially. Dan and I were always best of buds and my initial thought was that I would lose that.
[Dan] - I think it was about a week later when we had an actual proper conversation and I really feel it was then that I actually came out

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?
[Denis]
- Dan didn’t change, he is still my son and my best bud.  That’s something very important not to forget.

***

[Kyle] - 17 Gay from Cork
[Sinead] - Mother

Q: Describe your coming out process?
[Kyle]
- I came out as gay when I was 13, I told my best friend that I was bisexual initially but a couple of weeks after that I realised that I was gay, once I had my head around that I told my mum
[Sinead] - We had a chat and a hug but my biggest fear was that he was very young. I had an idea that Kyle might be gay but I was not expecting this conversation so early.
[Kyle] - My mum is the best and I knew she would be supportive, I had no problem having this conversation
[Sinead] - We talked for a good bit , Kyle took a brave step  and I wanted there for him so I let him know I will be with him every step of the way. I thought it would be useful that I do a bit of research and we talked again after.

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?
[Sinead] -
My best friend son is gay and I asked that he come over and he had some good advice for us around school 

***

[Adam] - 25 from Dublin

[Brenda] - Mother

Q: Describe your coming out process?

[Adam] - My coming out process was different, it wasn't the usual "Mam, dad sit down I need to tell you something". It was more, "I'm hanging out with friends, I'll be home late oh and you know that thing you ask me about any time you get brave, well it's true, let's not have an awkward conversation about it, see you later".  A txt followed by a phone call, opening statement - "Well it's about time". No lie, that is a Quote un quote from Brenda. 

I was lucky I had the support of my parents from a very early age, I wasn't exactly masc4masc as a kid, I loved all things drama and dance, any time I could prance and show off I did, (still do). Being gay wasn't a big issue in my house or any of my relatives house, for that matter, we were all lucky to be raised open minded and accepting, i knew it was never going to be a deal, my own aunty moved to England with 5 gay hairdressers. I think living in the country at the time was more difficult, I wanted to be all these things and with lack of options it didn't seem possible until one day I said enough is enough, I don't care what people think and the rest is "herstory".  I do think and know that If I didn't come out when I did, I would've been pulled out of the closet, mind you ask anyone of my family or friends and they'll say there was no closet! Every one knew, Someone that camp and fabulous at 3 was bound to be a little Queer. Everyone just let me be myself, nothing was different it was just confirmed.

Q: Any advice for parents on helping their kids coming out?
[Adam] Advice for coming out is simple, really get to understand, like and most important love yourself. Tell yourself "No I'm not a freak or weird or anything else". Remember you are you, a person who happens to love the same sex a fraction of who you are, you have the same physical parts and the  same personality you've always had. Nothing's different. 

Just know your parents will love you regardless, those horror stories we read about are awful but honestly that's one out of hundreds of thousands. In my opinion no one normal would treat their child that way. Just tell yourself if some had a problem, well that's their problem. 

You only need two seconds of "bravery", then later sit back and laugh at how worried you were. Remember, It's going to be okay.

 

 

Artwork by Rob Gavin. See more of his work at www.robgavin.format.com   

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