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Tequila's avatar

How do you "come out" to your homophobic father?

Asked by Tequila (337points) April 6th, 2013

My brother is openly gay, I am asking this question on behalf of his boyfriend. He has told his mother that he is gay, and his mother knows that he is dating. However, he has not told his father because he is quite homophobic and his mother “doesn’t want him to”. He’s afraid he’ll disown him. I believe they are quite religious, he comes from a Greek orthodox family. He has come to me for advice on how to come out to his dad, but I don’t know what to tell him. I’m not a parent, nor am I gay. My advice is to just come right out and tell him, but he is afraid. Any other suggestions???

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30 Answers

bookish1's avatar

Good for you for trying to help your brother’s boyfriend.
But why should he come out to his father? I hate, hate, hate, that we consider not being heterosexual some torrid secret that we must proclaim at the top of our lungs as soon as possible, otherwise we are lying to everyone. That is so stupid.
Think about it, why does his father need to know what he likes to do in the bedroom?
That’s just gross.

Is he still living at home?
His dad might beat him, kill him, or disown him. He would be a sitting duck.
This shit still happens, everywhere, regardless of religion or background.
I feared these things.
I only “came out” to my scary father because my mother gave me no choice. Either I do it, or she would do it for me. I never would have chosen to do so without being manipulated like that.

It’s none of their business.
If there is the possibility that his father might react violently, then it might be safer for him to wait until he’s no longer physically close to him, and financially dependent upon him.
This stuff can change your life. It is not a decision to be made lightly.

marinelife's avatar

First, he has to ask himself if he wants to live openly as gay more than he wants a relationship with his father. He has to face the reality that the father could cut him off.

He might get some support from PFLAG. Here is another resource.

Tequila's avatar

@bookish1 Oh I completely agree! I think he just really wants to get it off his chest though, as he is very close to his father. He still lives at home, he’s turning 22, and he actually works with his dad. I think it would almost be good if his father cut him out… I suggested that he just move out, but his mother begged him to stay, saying he can’t leave because they take $3000 a month from him to pay their own mortgage and credit card bills. They need his money. It’s ridiculous, they leave him with $500/month for himself. This kid is so depressed because he is happy with my brother but he doesn’t want to completely lose his family.

bookish1's avatar

@Tequila: I see. That financial situation sounds rough. But at the age of 22, he does not need to sacrifice his mental and emotional well-being because his parents need him around to help pay off debt.
Your friend’s dilemma sucks. There is no way to predict a happy ending if his dad is homophobic. He might eventually change, and he might never. But at this guy’s age (and 22 is not a “kid”), he’s perfectly within his rights to begin living his own life free of guilt and obligation.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Don’t rush into any decisions that are irreversible. Start with general open discussion on the subject of people’s needs and rights to live freely as they see fit. Ease into the topic a bit at a time and gauge the reaction you see.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I don’t know; I haven’t been in that situation, and my kids are both heterosexual.

But I am going to suggest that it may not be horrible at all.

The boyfriend’s dad is homophobic and hates gays in the abstract. He may not know if any personally, and what he has heard he hears on Fox news and from his friends.

It’s entirely possible that when it is his own son – not an abstract thing on TV – it will be a wakeup call for the father. This is real. This is your own flesh and blood. And it might just be that the father changes his views.

Maybe this is overoptimistic. I don’t know. But I would say that the friend’s father is the one with the problem. Not your friend.

CWOTUS's avatar

I can’t even imagine. I’m mostly here to read others’ responses, because I can’t even begin to fathom how a parent could hate a child over something like this, or how tough it might be to be that child, to be afraid that his own father might know “the real him”.

Hell, 40-odd years ago when I was starting to get interested in girls, I could hardly even come out as heterosexual. I kept pretending I was a pre-teen, and that I didn’t particularly care for girls. What a brave new world we live in.

Good luck.

JLeslie's avatar

My gut feeling is don’t come out to him.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

My bff is gay. I got asked this very question because his father too would “not approve”. My advice was that he just had to tell him.

So here we are now 20yrs later my bff just got married to his boyfriend and his father was there.

Now I will just say that his father was not happy. And it has created some tension that is still ongoing in the relationship. His father also will openly mistreat him not physically but verbally but my friend has married a really good guy who stands up for him and will tell the father to stop treating his husband like that. :)

I think your friend should know how his father reacts to situations, if the father has been physically abusive before, than I would not tell him. But like I told my friend if his father disowns him for something he can’t help then his father shouldn’t be in his life that’s his fathers choice.

And like I told my friends father when he was thinking of never talking to my friend again, that his son has no choice when it comes to the sex of his partner but as his father “you can choose to continue to be there for him or not, and if you choose not I personally think that is a stupid choice because your son is a really remarkable man and you know that, that’s why you want him to have your grandkids…so just stop being so stubborn now.”

I am very good friends with the entire family to the point we all consider eachother family, so that is why I could talk to my bff’s dad. I don’t know @Tequila if your brothers boyfriend has a friend like that?

Inspired_2write's avatar

There is no reason to tell him.
If your brother is an adult, he no longer requires his parents approval.

JLeslie's avatar

I have a question. Why does he want to tell his dad? If it is outside social pressure then he should tell everyone else to mind their own business. He knows the internal workings of his family. If his mother, the person closest to his father, thinks it is a bad idea I would take her advice for now.

I understand it is probably a big burden to keep the secret from his dad, but for now I would keep it. Once he is out on his own then eventually I think he can tell. When he leaves home it is going to be pretty awful no matter what anyway. Once they accept him as a separate individual it will be easier I think.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Let me tihink on this overnight. I used to be a bit homophobic, but I worked with an openly gay guy for a few years. That cured me completely. But I don’t know about coming out to parents.

Arewethereyet's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl I agree wholeheartedly with you I love the conversation with the dad of your bff and @bookish1 Bravo, why should he have to “come out” it’s none of their business who the guy loves (I know that’s not how it works in real life but hey I can wish).

It also sounds like the young man has an advantage over the parents as they rely on him financially as well which muddies the waters.

I guess for the father’s generation it may seem disappointing but the father had his life now it’s the son’s turn he is an adult and has to create his own truths for his own future regardless of his father’s response.

JLeslie's avatar

@Arewethereyet The father isn’t dead yet.

Arewethereyet's avatar

I get that but the son’s life is his not his father’s to live :)

CWOTUS's avatar

I think, based on the responses I’m reading and my own thinking on this since my initial response if the father is so set in his irrational hatred, and if he is so unaware of his own son’s interests, inclinations and predilections, then there is no point in setting him straight. What would be the point?

I have to say, as a father, how awful I would feel if one of my kids felt that they needed to hide anything about themselves from me. I know that they do keep things from me, but that’s more out of their own sense of shame or embarrassment – or because they might think something would embarrass me, perhaps. But they know that they can’t tell me anything that would stop me from loving them. How terrible that all kids can’t have that relationship with their parents.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@CWOTUS I agree with you. There is one thing you said though that I wish some homophobic people would grasp. But many are irrational and oh the irony…
“if the father is so set in his irrational hatred, and if he is so unaware of his own son’s interests, inclinations and predilections, then there is no point in setting him straight.

JLeslie's avatar

Sometimes a child perceives their father to be a certain way when it isn’t true. Most children worry about their parent’s dissapproval or anger and don’t undertsand the depth a parent loves their child. However, there are parents who will cut off from their kids, who do abuse their kids, and who are homophobic to the point of no return. But, sometimes people seem to be homophobic, but aren’t.

My BIL came out to me around the age of 40. Me before the rest of his family. He did it because his boyfriend at the time pushed him to, and he knew from hints I gave him that I knew. I told he could tell his brother, my husband, but he was very unsure, he needed my reassurance. He had built up in his head that the family would reject him. Finally he came out to everyone. It was a total shock for his parents. A total honest shock. His mom actually had a little more trouble with it than his father, but there was never a hint of them cutting him off. His mom and sister were horrified they had said things like his shoes or hair looked gay when he was younger. They remembered all the thing they said to him. I remember asking his sister a few years before that whether she thought he was gay, and herresponse was, “I would never ask him, I wouldn’t want to offend him.” But, living in America in South FL, and I worked in retail and she started working there too, and her parents met some of the people we worked with who were gay, they had become more exposed to gay people and so they had dropped some of their prejudgments about them. Not that they would ever be homophobic to the point of hating them, but more a not knowing or discomfort.

Anyway, when my BIL came out to my husband, my husband afterwards said to me, “I don’t think I would have accepted it as well if I hadn’t known you.” Meaning me. I tell this story because it backs up what people said above about exposure to gay people, really knowing them. My experience is the more you know gay people the less you bother to classify them as gay or not, it becomes a non issue, something that dissappears as a identifier.

But, there is no way for us to know this father well. It is hard for us to give good advice that fits this paricular situation without really knowing the people. It seems like this is a traditional sort of old world family and announcing the son is gay might make his dad deal with something he is not ready to deal with. It will likely feel like a loss to him, especially if he is the only son or worse the only child. Loss of the future. How he pictured the future for his family.

bookish1's avatar

@CWOTUS, too bad more parents can’t be like you. For many, love and support are conditional on “your not injuring my ego or embarrassing me in front of the neighbors.”

Arewethereyet's avatar

@CWOTUS I think you are wonderful

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

If the father is that freaked out over gayness, then I wouldn’t tell him. It really pisses me off that parents can’t seem to just love their children, gay or straight.

I’ve already told my oldest daughter, who is only twelve, that if she discovers that she’s gay, to please tell me without any fear. I felt like I needed to go ahead and talk about that with her because of all the anti-gay BS she’s heard and because my mother has called it “gross” in front of her. I explained my position on the whole thing and told her I just want her to be happy, no matter who she ends up falling in love with, and that I want her to be comfortable enough to ask me questions or tell me about herself, without feeling ashamed or afraid. I don’t understand why so many parents don’t feel the same way!

If your friend is that worried about what his father will think, I would just advise him to try and preserve his relationship with his father, and worry about telling him at a later date.

CWOTUS's avatar

Well, you’re just extra-perceptive and brilliant, @Arewethereyet.

Incoherency_'s avatar

Why would you want to come on to your father, especially if he’s homophobic??

Brian1946's avatar


The OP says, ”...come out”, not come on.

bookish1's avatar

To answer the question directly, I did so with witnesses present, so he wouldn’t get violent.

Incoherency_'s avatar


Whoops, wrong proposition. ;-p

Edit: wrong preposition.

I better get out of here while the gettin’s good!

ragingloli's avatar

I am the cynical and cruel type when it comes to this, so I would say you keep it secret until he lies on his death bed, then you go close to his ear and whisper Btw, I am gay.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

There’s a cliche that I quite like: we’re only as sick as our secrets. I waited until I was 35 to come out, and I was very sick.

LBGT people come out in this day and age so that some day in the future we won’t have to. Falling in love will just be accepted as the natural thing it is. Until then, coming out is still necessary.

I cannot say what I would do in the OP’s friend’s situation, but I think the friend should start by moving out of his parent’s house and stop footing their bills.

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