Coming out to your parents is never an easy task. While there are many stereotypes in the non-heterosexual world that I abhore, one that I do believe is justified is that it is most difficult to come out to parents. The emotional bond we form with our parents is often quite complex and quite difficult to describe. Similarly, for most of us, the thought of losing that bond, however illogical it may seem, can cause us quite a bit of pain. Therefore even the most confident people who are out to all their friends, coworkers, etc., may be unable to come out to their parents.
I was certainly no different ... it was damn hard and even saying that is a vast understatement. I tried a couple of different tacts with telling my parents earlier on in my life and neither of those worked. It took until years later for me to broach the subject again and even then I couldn't do it face to face. I had to do it by a letter. That's not saying that the approach I used was incorrect. Any time you come out it should be using whatever method you feel best for the particular circumstances. I felt that in my case, a letter would do the best job.
Below is that letter. Maybe somewhere in it you may find the words that will help you tell your parents...
Dear Mum and Dad,
No doubt both of you are a little confused by the way that youre reading this letter. Each of you with a copy, sealed in envelopes within an envelope with the instruction to only read at home together. Well, youll soon know.
Theres no easy way for me to say this to you. In all honesty, it shouldnt be hard either, but like it or not its difficult. I kept putting this off for ages with all number of excuses, the most common being that I should wait until I can say it to you in person. The truth is, they were just excuses. It would be no easier to say this to you in person. Ive thought of saying it to you over the phone, but I cant have one of you hear before the other in case you do need each other after youve been told.
Just keep in mind that I love you both, no matter what.
Over the years Ive dropped subtle hints to you both from time to time, but its now time to bring the matter out into the open. For good or ill, I need it clarified. If it is for ill, then so be it, and Ill accept the consequences, but I hope that at the end of this letter both of you say "so what?" to each other and recognise that Im still the same son you had when you started reading this letter. I am gay. There are no ifs, buts or maybes about it. No amount of tears or praying or wishing can change that ... why? Because before I realised that there was nothing wrong with it, I did all the praying, crying and wishing that anyone possibly could. Over time I came to realise that the only reason I thought there was something wrong with it was because of the silly notions that people held about it. Silly? Yes, silly. Gays have been around since history began and longer, most probably, and its only been in the last couple of centuries that society has started acting silly over the matter.
There is no blame in this. It is not because one of you did this, or another of you did that during my childhood. You both lavished me with all the care, love and attention any child could have had. I was neither pampered nor neglected. I was neither clung to nor rejected, and I was always treated fairly. I look back on my childhood as a wonderful moment of my life, and always in my memories I see the two wonderful people who raised me - the two of you.
If either of you are still reading at the moment, there are questions that both of you will be wanting to ask. Ill try to answer some of them now, and hope that at the end of the letter, youll still love me and care enough for me to ring me and ask those questions if you want to.
How long have I known? Since I was about 13. How long have I accepted it? Since I was about 16. It was the most painful period of my life, in case youre wondering, and I was always living in fear that you would discover that I was "that way" and would throw me out on my ear. Now I hope that wouldnt have been the case.
When did I choose? I never did choose. I never had any choice in the matter. Some people call it "sexual preference" but I despise that title. It is sexual orientation, because there was no preference involved. About the only preference involved is that I chose to live with it rather than deny it and lead a lonely, horrible life slowly driving myself mad with self-hate.
I am not evil. I did a lot of soul searching on that and even more historical reading on it. I dont believe that either of you have it within your hearts to consider me to be evil. Up until the mid 16th century, the Church was still blessing same sex marriages, and up until the 18th century, making profit from loaning money was the most heinous sin of all. The church only decided that homosexuality when a heterosexual pope wanted an excuse to rid himself of some political enemies.
The bible does not condemn homosexuality. All "condemnations" come from the King James version, which has been shown time and time again to be badly translated. Older versions do not mention it. And besides, even if you take that into consideration, women who speak in church should be stoned to death, people who work on Sunday will go to hell, and so on. Almost all churches acknowledge in some way today that homosexuality is not truly evil. And if you remember Diannes father, who was the baptist minister in Parkes ... he saw nothing wrong with what I am. I am not evil. I am your son.
I do not have "that" disease. Just because I am gay does not make me any more susceptible to it than any other person. I dont think that it is appropriate to discuss this any further except over the phone or face to face.
Who cares what people might think? If they think that it is something to be sniggered about or blamed cast over, then they are beneath contempt and you should ignore them. Most of them wont care. Some of them will even have gay children themselves. One in eight to ten males in Australia are gay, and one in twenty females are lesbian. There are many people who are in your position, as the parents of gay children. There is no stigma to be attached to it. If anything, you should be proud that your son has overcome even more adversity than the average child has.
I wont say who in the family does know at this point in time, but suffice it to say that many do, and none of them care, because they know I am still the same Preston who had a bad speech impediment as a child, who was a lovable nerd while he was growing up, and who is trustworthy and kind as an adult.
Will this stop me from having children? Thats a difficult question. I always said while I was growing up that I wanted children. I still do. I believe I have a lot to offer as a father. One day I hope to adopt, but that is still a long way off.
Undoubtedly you are wondering about my flatmate, Darren. I hope that by this stage, this information is happy information. Yes, he is my partner. No, he had nothing to do with this letter, and he did not "convert" me. As hard as it may be for the two of you to hear this, I love and care for him as much as you do for each other, or Alex for Eileen, or any other couple. I dont want to sound harsh, but under no circumstances are you to ever act against Darren in any way. He is my partner, and I will no more tolerate him being abused than dad would mum, or vice versa.
There are many more questions I could answer, but for the moment, I wont. I will leave the next step to the both of you. You can either choose to call me, and well talk, or to ignore me. But it wont change me. It is time that I started living my own life, rather than a pretend one. This may be hard on the both of you, but think of it this way: it has been hard on me for the last 10 and a bit years. I am not being selfish - instead, I am offering you the chance to become re-acquainted with your second son. A son who cares for you and loves you both with all his heart, but who must be able to live his life.
I hope to hear that phone call, but in the end, if you cant love me any more, I will understand, forgive, but not accept.
Loving you both with all my heart,
(C) 1996-2000 Preston de Guise