My name’s R* and I am new here. I’m 18 and my mom is homophobic. I came out as a lesbian years ago, I really want to tell her, but I don’t know how. I know she will react badly, but I just want her to know.
Ahh, coming out. Coming out is something LGBT people have to do everyday to varying degrees. No one ever tells you that when you are a little baby queer do they? Every time you meet someone new you will have to come out. It’s going to happen at work, at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store. Coming out isn’t a singular act. It will be a rolling theme of your life. Eventually, you will get so used to it that you will barely notice when it’s happening anymore. The hardest people to tell are usually your own parents. You only get one shot to tell them and you want to make sure you do it as sensitively as possible.
You are probably right to be worried about your mother’s reaction. People have a lot of highly charged feelings about LGBT people. Especially when it comes to their own children. Even people who are “OK with Gay!” can be upset if they find out their own child is gay. This goes for people of all races and religions. There probably isn’t a “best time” to come out to your parents. But there are sensitive, caring ways to do so.
Let me preface this by saying, if you live with your mom and she is your financial support you might want to wait until you are able to support yourself before you tell her. This way, if she throws you out for being gay, you can still take care of yourself. Living an honest life is great, but being homeless equals bad.
There is also a chance that your mom already has some idea that you might be a gay lady. After all, she has known you all your life.
So, after a nice dinner one night, tell your mom you want to have a serious talk with her. Sit her down and tell her that you love her and you know she loves you unconditionally. Then say something along the lines of “I’m a lesbian and I hope that won’t change the way you view me or our relationship.”
Be prepared to have to answer some tough questions, like: “Are you sure?” “How do you know?” “Have you ever been with a woman?” “How do you know you just haven’t found the right man?”
Let me tell you right now that you don’t need to have the answers to these questions right now, or ever. You don’t need to explain or justify yourself to anyone. The nuances of these questions for queer women are myriad and no one knows the answers. You are who you are, you love who you love.
My recommended response? “It’s just something I know in my heart.” Because it is. Be prepared for her to be shocked or hurt or mad. There is a chance she won’t accept you at first, give her time and patience. Offer her your love and acceptance, even if she withholds it. Don’t say anything to your mother that you will regret. Even if it seems like she will never come around to accepting you, chances are eventually she will get used to it. She will see that you are still her little girl and will grow into an amazing woman.
Good luck, R. Let me know how it goes.
*Name’s have been changed to protect anonymity
**Letter has been edited for clarity