Whether you’re 15 or 55, saying “I’m gay” to your parents for the first time can be one of the most difficult moments of your life. When Mum and Dad hold deep religious convictions that same-sex relationships are sinful, the pressure can be even greater. Nonetheless, LGBT+ Christians around the world have survived the dreaded conversion and lived to tell the tale. Here’s 5 top tips that can help prepare for the nerve-wracking talk.
1. Be clear on WHAT you’re telling them – Don’t try and sugar the pill. If you’ve made a decision to live as a LGBT+ person be clear about that. Try not to give the impression that you are seeking their advice on what to do about it or allow them to have ‘false hope’ that you might still end up with an opposite-sex partner. It might make the initial conversation easier but can create complications in the long term.
2. Have a get-away plan – You don’t need to say everything on the topic in the first conversation, nor is there any obligation to answer every question. Time is almost always a great friend and healer in these situations. It’s worth trying to create space for some. Perhaps schedule in a time to meet a supportive friend for a coffee after the conversation with your parents – which will also give you something to look forward to. If you live with you parents, it might be worth planning to stay with a friend for a couple of days just to create a bit of space. Be practical – if you think there is a chance that your parents may ask you to leave the house, make sure you have something else lined up.
3. Don’t assume the response – Sometimes parents who are usually more traditional can adjust remarkably quickly – while those you’ve always taken to be liberal minded can react with disbelief. It’s not uncommon for parents to confess that they have ‘known for years’ – alternatively it can be something of a bolt from the blue. While it’s a good idea to think through questions that might come up, try not to assume what their actual reaction will be. You might find you’re pleasantly surprised!
4. Do your research and prepare some reference points – Often, Christian parents will have big questions about theology and understanding the Bible. You don’t have to answer these – a host of Christian writers, speakers and thinkers have done it for you. Why not go into the conversation prepared with a few web links you can direct your parents to? It might also be worth sign-posting them to organisations who give support to parents of LGBT+ people.
5. Remember: the first reaction is not always the final reaction – Some parents can react to the news explosively but alter the opinion dramatically in the space of a week. Others might hear the news with a level head and utter words of support and suffer a minor panic attack a couple of weeks later. But as said above, time is nearly always a great healer. Be prepared for this to take time – but there is almost certainly light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t forget, if things get really tough, and you don’t have the support you need, there are still people you can talk to. You might want to try: