When do I tell friends & family?
When do I tell friends & family?
by Dannielle Owens-Reid & Kristin Russo, Co-Founders of My Kid Is Gay
Kristin & Dannielle Say:
"When I came out to my parents, my mom wasn’t ready right away to tell the rest of my family. I wasn’t in a place where I felt I needed them to know immediately anyway, and I also didn’t feel any connection to telling my extended family myself. (Sidebar: I have eight aunts and uncles and about fifty gabillion cousins, so it was a little overwhelming for me to begin with!) When my mom did begin telling people, she let me know. Although we had a lot of disagreements during that time, the way she handled that made me really happy. I liked that she respected me enough to make sure I was okay with others knowing, and that she kept me in the loop as she told other members of our family." - Kristin, 33
The most important thing to remember in this situation is to be respectful of your child’s needs. This is all a learning process for your child, and for you! Coming out, feeling open and comfortable, asking questions and having conversations are all integral steps in an ongoing journey. Every child is different. Perhaps your daughter wants you to know, but she isn’t yet ready to tell others. Maybe she doesn’t care who knows, but wants to be the one to tell her other family members or family friends. It might be that she is comfortable with others knowing and happy with you being the one to have those conversations. The only way to know how your child feels about the process of telling others is to ask her directly!
Approach your daughter when you both have some time to talk. Say something like, “I just want to say again that I am really proud of you for feeling comfortable enough come out to your dad and I. Since this is all new to us, we want to make sure we are being as respectful of you as possible, and so I wanted to know if you are comfortable with me being open with other people in our family, or if you’d rather do that on your own time.” See what she says, and go from there! You should be able to work together in figuring out the path forward that makes the most sense, and that makes you both comfortable. If she needs a little time, you should allow for that, and just set a time when you will circle back to check in — this way you both know that you are going to remain aware of each other’s feelings and needs and such as time unfolds.
If she does say that she is comfortable with you being open with others, remember that, unless you really want to, you do not have to sit each family member down and disclose your daughter’s sexuality in a very serious manner. You can talk to them as you would talk to them about anything else, and you can do so when it comes up naturally in conversation, over a glass of wine, or in whatever way makes the most sense to you! You can say something like, “DARBY (or whatever your daughter’s name might be) came out to us recently as bisexual — I wanted to let you know because if she starts talking about someone she’s dating, or you’d like to ask about someone she’s dating, I didn’t want you to assume it was a guy!” If they have questions or want to talk more, you can discuss whatever you are comfortable with discussing. It sounds like you and your husband are feeling very comfortable with this part of your child’s life, and that is wonderful. If you find that some others have a little difficulty with the information at first, try to remember that it is a process for anyone, and your patience and guidance can help them better understand things they may have never experienced before.
The bottom line is this: When it comes down to it, this isn’t about announcing to the world that your daughter is bisexual. It is about making sure she is getting the respect and support she deserves: first from you and your husband, and then from your family and your friends!