My Mom Wants Me to Postpone Coming Out


My Mom Wants Me to

Postpone Coming Out

by Kirsten and Lucy

My mom told me I can’t come out until graduation (I’m going to be a Junior in August) and I’m still not over it. Am I overreacting? I just feel so alone and misunderstood. What should I do?
— Anonymous

Kirsten says:

First, the basic facts as I see them:

  1. That’s an awfully long time to wait to share something that is so central to your identity.

  2. You’re probably not overreacting.

But now let’s try to tease this all out.

When I read your question, the first thing I wanted to know was why your mom wants you to wait until graduation to come out. Does she have real concerns about your safety and well-being? Do you live in a community or attend a school where revealing your sexual orientation could put you at real risk? Is she worried about how other family members might react and whether that could put you in jeopardy physically, emotionally, or financially? If so, then I understand her concerns, and would caution you to be very careful about what you reveal and when. However, given the fact that you feel alone and misunderstood, I am guessing this is not the case. So then what is really underlying her desire to have you keep this secret, and how we can we help you and your mom through this?

Time and time again, I’m reminded that coming out is a process, and that it involves not only the LGBTQ+ person, but also their family. Parents often need time to come to terms with their child’s sexual orientation, and to accept what may look like a new reality and a different future from what they may have imagined. I think patience and kindness matter as you help your mom come to terms with the fact that you’re LGBTQ. And I know that you’re the kid and she’s the mom, but this is most likely an instance in which you can be the leader and the teacher, helping introduce her to new ideas and ways of understanding. A great place to start would be by showing her this website—as you know, it has a wealth of information and support for parents of queer kids.

It sounds like you are ready to start sharing this incredibly important and personal information with your world. And it’s natural for you to want your mom’s support as you do, so of course you feel alone and misunderstood right now. I have been struggling to find an analogy that might help your mom understand what it might feel like to be prevented from sharing this part of yourself with others, but they all seem woefully inadequate. But how about this: Ask your mom to think back to when she found out she was pregnant with you. If her experience was at all like mine, she was thrilled and excited, and wanted to tell her family and friends the second she knew. But maybe she waited until she was three or four months along to share the news, just to be on the safe side. I remember that time so clearly—having this amazing, life-changing news to share but not being able to, and watching the clock tick by until I could tell. So now, ask your mom to imagine what it would have been like to keep that secret for two years?! Wow. That’s a long time. And hey, I know this analogy isn’t quite right—but maybe it will give you a jumping-off point for the conversation with your mom.

At the end of the day, I hope that you can work together to come up with a timetable and a “communications plan” that you both feel comfortable with. But I firmly believe that at the heart of it all, this is YOUR story to tell on YOUR terms.

Lucy says:

First of all, you are absolutely NOT overreacting. It is entirely valid for you to feel slighted by your mother’s prohibition. After all, it is you who is going to be coming out, not her. However, it would be wise to look at it from your mother’s perspective, and talk to her about her reasoning. Why doesn’t she want you to come out? Is she worried you will be victimized? Isolated? From where do her concerns stem? I would advise you to listen to her reasoning- and talk to her about her concerns. Have a genuine discussion with her, address her concerns, and try to understand them. Her concerns could be very valid. Perhaps your family isn’t as accepting as you think, or perhaps the town you live in is the same way.

However, if her reasoning is based on her own lack of acceptance, there is a problem. If you feel that she is being unfair or prejudiced, voice your feelings of loneliness and misunderstanding. Don’t expect her to come around to your way of seeing things right away, because your coming out is a process for those around you just as it is for you. Hopefully she will understand, and you will be able to come to an understanding or compromise and both of you will feel that their desires were addressed and met.

Kirsten & Lucy are a parent-kid duo!

I’m Kirsten. I’ve been married to Richard for 20 years (!) and in addition to Lucy, we have 2 dogs and 4 ¾ cats (one of them only has 3 legs!). I work full-time at a non-profit social services agency. I’m basically addicted to Instagram and I love to read, bake, and make art. I’m dying to get a new tattoo. Suggestions? Find me on Instagram or Twitter @kjerstieb.

I’m Lucy, I’m 15, I’m queer, and I have a real passion for making sure that dogs know they are loved. I post stuff on instagram @yung_olson

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