A perfectly dreadful moment in any gay person's life is the outing. The fear
is understandable when you consider that to a closeted person the world is
loathsome of homosexuality. Yet validation and love from a family remains an
integral part of self-acceptance. The holidays with their emotional themes of
family, peace, and love often stir up back burner issues. For the closeted
person this can often include guilt for their deception and the pain brought
on from an unresolved question: Would you still love me if you knew I was gay?
Our tips on coming out this holiday were compiled from PFLAG's (Parents &
Friends of Lesbians and Gays) website and Mariana Caplan's book, When
Holidays Are Hell...! A Guide to Surviving Family Gatherings, published by
If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or
Don’t assume you know how somebody will
react to news of your sexual orientation or gender identity — you may be
Realize that your family’s reaction to you
may not be because you are GLBT. The hectic holiday pace
may cause family members to act differently than they would under less
Remember that “coming out” is a continuous
process. You may have to “come out” many times.
Don’t wait for your family’s attitude to
change to have a special holiday. Recognize that your parents need time to
acknowledge and accept that they have a GLBT child. It took you time to
come to terms with who you are; now it is your family’s turn.
Let your family’s judgments be theirs to
work on, as long as they are kind to you.
If it is too difficult to be with your family,
create your own holiday gathering with friends and loved
If you are transgender, be gentle with
your family’s pronoun “slips.” Let them know you know how difficult it
Before the visit...
Make a decision about being “out” to each
family member before you visit.
If you are partnered, discuss in advance
how you will talk about your relationship, or show affection with
one another, if you plan to make the visit together.
If you bring your partner home, don’t wait until
late into the holiday evening to raise the issue of sleeping
arrangements. Make plans in advance.
Have alternate plans if the situation
becomes difficult at home.
Find out about local GLBT
If you do plan to “come out” to your
family over the holidays, have support available, including
publications and the
number of a local
During the visit...
Focus on common interests.
Reassure family members that you are still
the same person they have always known.
If you are partnered, be sensitive to his
or her needs as well as your own.
Be wary of the possible desire to shock
Remember to affirm yourself.
Realize that you don’t need your family’s
Connect with someone else who is GLBT—by
phone or in person—who understands what you are going through and will
affirm you along the way.
And make sure to practice safe outing!