I want to come out, but...

Questions and discussion about your sexuality and how it's a part of who you are as a person.
SilentDragon
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I want to come out, but...

Unread postby SilentDragon » Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:39 pm

Okay, so I've been thinking a lot lately about coming out as bisexual (though it's possibly more like pansexual) and athiest to my Catholic mother and other relatives. It doesn't have to be soon, and I want to have a plan first. Now, my parents are divorced and my non-religious dad already knows about my atheism and would have no problems with me dating someone of the same sex. My dad said I shouldn't tell my mother, but that presents practical problems as I live with my mother and want whoever I'm dating to be able to come over, and even if I didn't live with her, I'd want to be able to talk to her about any relationship I'm in.

The reason I'm talking about my atheism at all is because I originally became athiest after discovering I was bisexual and having a nice long think about what love meant to me and what it meant in the context of the generally homophobic religion I grew up in, I began the religious questioning that eventually led to my atheism. And, honestly, I think it'd be wrong to reveal one of these big parts about myself but not the other as they are so closely linked in my mind. Plus I kind of just want it over with and to be out.

Now, as for my mother, she has not expressed any homophobic beliefs that I know of (she's actually expressed some pro-gay opinions) and even likes my gay friends, but I'm still concerned that when it comes to her own child dating someone of the same sex, she'd be less supportive, though I know she wouldn't do anything extreme like kick me out of the house. However, she does have a history of referring to people I'm dating as "friends" when talking about us to others; I believe this'd be a problem even more so if I were in a same-sex relationship. Now, my stepfather is much more conservative, and he'd have more... obtuse things to say about my coming out as bisexual and an athiest, but I'm honestly less worried about him because 1) I don't care about his opinion of me, 2) "discussions" with him are good debate and assertiveness practice, and 3) as much as he'd like to think he's in charge of the family, he is not. Also, I know my younger sisters have some homophobic opinions and I know I'd get backlash from them. Certainly, coming out would cause extended-family controversy as well, especially with me being the most... unusual family member already. Though, I'm still sure my mother (and probably my other relatives as well) would have a bigger problem with me being athiest. Plus, I guess I'm also concerned some of my other very liberal beliefs will also come out and cause additional family tension.

My original thought about coming out as bisexual was that I'd wait until I was in or was about to potentially be in a same-sex relationship, but I'm seeing problems with that idea now. For one thing, I think that my mother and other family members might need time to adjust to the idea, and if they're not given that time, they might be not-so-nice to/about my girlfriend. And I wouldn't want to put any partner through that.

I'm also hesitant to come out because I recently ended an opposite-sex relationship, and I'm afraid my mother might think that's why I want to date a woman, instead of the fact that I've known I'm bisexual for about 8 years now.

My next dilemma is to figure out if I should come out as an athiest and a bisexual at the same time or at separate times and if at separate times, which should come first? So I'd appreciate any advice in any of these areas I've discussed here. I also read all the articles on here I could find pertaining to the topic, if that helps at all.

Sam W
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Re: I want to come out, but...

Unread postby Sam W » Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:39 pm

Hi Silentdragon,

It sounds like you've already been working through the possible outcomes of your coming out, which is great! I think your decision to talk to your mom about your sexuality prior to a partner entering the picture is a sound one. One thing that might help you is to write out (literally put a pen to paper or hands to keyboard) what you want to say to your mom, and then practice it ahead of time. It might also help to imagine some of the most likely responses, and what you'd like to say to them. This can help you keep from freezing up in the moment.

One other thing to keep in mind is that any reactions she (or your other family) has is about them, not you. They are likely going to have some strong emotions around this, but those feelings are theirs to deal with, not yours.

As for whether to bring up both topics at once, that's up to you. If it were me, I would probably go for one announcement at a time just to minimize the amount of possible drama that the other person might have in response. But you know your mom, and you are ultimately the best gauge of how to mesh or not mesh the two discussions.

I also want to ask, do you think there's any way your dad could help or support you in this, even if your parents are separated?

SilentDragon
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Re: I want to come out, but...

Unread postby SilentDragon » Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:17 pm

I'm not sure how helpful my dad would be as he has not talked to my mom or stepfather in about 3 years, and the last encounter was not a good one. He also has this avoid-all-potential-conflict sort of worldview that might make him not see the value in coming out. But it's possible he would or it could be explained to him; I'm just not sure.

Also, I'm not sure I know what the common responses and questions are surrounding coming out as bisexual (or any non-hetero orientation), so any information or direction on that would be very helpful.

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Re: I want to come out, but...

Unread postby Sam W » Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:30 pm

Ah, I follow. Okay, then maybe the most you can bank on from your dad is that he'll support your orientation so that you won't feel totally unsupported by your family?

As for what questions to expect, that's a little tricky, and hopefully some of our users and other volunteers can add to what I'm about to say (I'll drop a note in the admin area asking for input). Some of the more common reactions are:
-'"but how can you know/be sure?"
-"but you've dated a X type of person before, so how can you say you're bi/pan/gay/lesbian?"
-"this is just a phase, you'll grow out of it."
-"being that way is immoral/bad."
-"you're just saying that because you and person X broke up."
-"you're just doing this for attention."
It sounds like you are already anticipating some of those responses (you mention that your mom might dismiss you due to your having just ended a relationship). So, when you're thinking about coming out, think about how you'll handle those responses should they arise.

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Re: I want to come out, but...

Unread postby Keda » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:20 am

It's worth considering that coming out to your mum might not necessarily mean coming out to your whole family. It sounds from what you've said (referring to your partners as friends, for example) that she doesn't much like discussing your romantic life with others, so if she's also uncomfortable with your orientation, you may find that she doesn't tell your extended family - so if you want them to know as well, you might need to come out several times. That might be less likely as regards your being an atheist.

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Re: I want to come out, but...

Unread postby Ruth » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:35 am

I hope you don't mind me stepping in here!

I came out as bisexual a few years before realising I was actually gay, so I've been in a similar position to you, though without any religious conflict. I think what Sam W has suggested with writing it all down is a really good idea, but I was also wondering if you'd come out to anyone else yet first? I remember finding that it was much easier to have That Conversation with my parents once I'd had it with a couple of other people, too - you'd be surprised how much people's responses tend to be pretty similar to each other's. It's also possible that once you've got someone on side with you, they can be there with you when you choose to come out to others, if that sounds like something you would want to do. It is possible, for example, to come out to your stepfather (if you think he's the more difficult one), with your mother with you, if you come out to her first, hopefully easing some of the potential conflict.

I would also recommend not disclosing your atheism at the same time if you think that's going to cause extra conflict, but it isn't impossible that it might be prompted, if your mother or stepfather are likely to say "but the Bible says...", in which case that kind of gives you an opening. I think I might suggest coming out as bisexual first, rather than disclosing your atheism, as going "I don't believe in God also I like girls" might be read as you finding your sexuality as a rejection of their faith? Rather than finding your sexuality first, and examining your religious beliefs afterwards. In other words, it's possible that they might think you're doing it to cement your breakup with religion, in the same way that they might think you're doing it to cement your breakup with a man, so this is also an outcome you might want to consider when you're writing out that response.

Also - coming out in writing? Totally something you can do. If you find that you can absolutely write all the things you want to say, but can't say them, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with producing a letter explaining your situation and coming out that way. Obviously it would be an opening for a discussion, rather than a be-all and end-all, but if you think that it's news that might take a while for them to accept, giving them the literal space when coming out might be a way for them to accept what they've found out before they choose to come and talk to you about it, and take some of the pressure off you to say everything the way you want to say it.

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Re: I want to come out, but...

Unread postby Mo » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:19 pm

One framework that I think can help in coming out is a three-step statement.

First, you say what you want to tell her regarding your identity.
Then, you explain what that means for you; it could be just "I might date women as well as men sometimes, just a heads-up" but this could include being in LGBT groups, political activism, whatever.
Third, what you need from her. That could be general support, help backing you up if family members give you a hard time, or not talking about this to people that you're really not ready to be out to yet.

This can help because people don't always know how to react and support people who come out to them; if you can give her some specific ways to help out that's a great way to guide the discussion and her reaction. It can also help to approach the conversation as an important and happy fact about yourself you're ready to share vs. acting like you're sharing bad news by coming out.

SilentDragon
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Re: I want to come out, but...

Unread postby SilentDragon » Sat Sep 06, 2014 7:01 pm

Wow, so many responses! Thanks everyone for all the advice!

Before I come out to my family, I've decided to come out to a good friend who doesn't know yet. I can almost certainly expect a positive response from her. I think it'll give me some practice with this, which will make talking to my mother a bit less nerve-wracking.

I'm still thinking about how I want to come out to my mother. Writing is certainly an idea I'm considering, especially because I'm not the best at saying everything I want to say aloud if I'm nervous. I think I might share the draft here if I do decide to go that route.

I also think that if she doesn't tell my extended family members, I'm pretty sure I'd have no problems with telling my liberal aunt, though I'm not sure how or maybe even if I'd tell the other two aunts. As I write this, I'm wondering if it'd be easier if I told my aunt before telling my mother. Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do.

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Re: I want to come out, but...

Unread postby Stephanie » Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:12 pm

Honestly- for everyone is is really just so different and totally based on who you are and also how people are around you. I wish I could say you'll know for sure when you're ready but you may not at first or even for a while. And when you're ready you may still want to have some other people that know and are totally happy with you as you are to be behind you as good people to talk to if/when you may not get such a positive reaction from other friends, family or loved ones. It can be hard but it's something we all take in our own pace. And know we are here to talk to as peers and staff/volunteers as well. Good luck.
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