So much for keeping it well-hidden up to that point.
As the Youth Program Coordinator of Compass, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Lake Worth, I have the unique opportunity to see both sides of the coming out process — the person coming out and the parents who have to come out.
That’s right, parents have to come out. When a person comes out to their parents, they are handing their mom and/or dad a piece of news that they may or may not be equipped to handle. This is why some parents react with shock, anger or humor.
As members of the LGBT community, we drop a pretty large chunk of information in our parent’s laps when we come out.
It’s actually not unheard of for parents to go through a mourning period of sorts when they find out that their son or daughter is LGBT. They have this idea in their head of who their child will be when they grow up and when they don’t fit that model, they sometimes freak out.
Parents tend to have a preconceived notion that their child will grow up, get married to someone of the opposite sex and have children. When this happens, they can question their place in society and even in their religion.
When my youth come to me and tell me the fabulous news that they have come out to their parents I am overjoyed.
I’m even less overjoyed when they tell me they don’t understand why their parents aren’t on board. I patiently tell them that this is something the parents are going to have to come to terms with and eventually they will get on board the gay bus.
They may not be organizing the next PFLAG meeting but they will eventually come around and accept their son or daughter’s sexuality.
It’s rough. Coming out to your family is a major revelation in your life, and one should stop and consider that their parents are going to be involuntarily joining in on this journey in which we partake.
Parents have their own emotions to work through during the coming out process, and the very people who are coming out may feel shoved to the side as a result, even though the coming out process is a plea for critical emotional support.
Children’s Services Council is working with Compass to effect this process and be part of our community.
So be patient, and remember that your parents have their own coming out to go through, and you can help them as much as they can help you.
Matthew McWatters coordinated Compass’ Youth Program Coordinator and is currently a board member at PBCHRC. Our current Youth Program Coordinator is Amanda Canete and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.