Social Question

j0ey's avatar

How would you feel/react if a family member/friend "came out" to you?

Asked by j0ey (2429points) March 26th, 2010

One of my best friends has just decided to come out…

The sad thing is, it is making them extremely depressed and anxious, because they are not sure how everyone will react (especially their parents).

How would you feel if someone you loved came out to you?
And how would you suggest they go about it to make “older fashioned” people understand?
ALSO, do you think it is harder for guys or girls…and will people judge the sexes differently?

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56 Answers

ucme's avatar

This has actually happened to me a few years back now.It made absolutely no difference whatsoever in the way I percieved them.Other than to admire them for their courage.For him it was a big deal which he was quite stressed about.We have a good laugh about it now which is fine.

Fyrius's avatar

I’d feel sorry for them for the distress the situation causes them. I’d want to support them.
I’d congratulate them for coming out to me. That must have taken a lot of courage already. If they have what it takes to come out to me, then coming out to other people would only take a little bit more courage, I reckon.
If they really want to. I could understand them really wanting to tell it to less than open minded parents, but I could also understand them not wanting to. It’s a decision they’ll have to make themselves. I’d give them my support either way.

As for the fact that they’re gay, well, that’s cool. No big deal. Not to me, anyway.

Blackberry's avatar

I would ensure them that I really don’t give a damn, it is their parents and other friends they have to worry about. And it is harder for men, depending on their upbringing.

Cruiser's avatar

I would give them an “atta boy/girl” hug and tell them I admire their honesty and trust in me to tell me something so important and special in their live.

j0ey's avatar

Just to be clear…...

I have known for a very long time about my friend…...this is more a question about the family I guess.

Maybe I didn’t word the question correctly…

ucme's avatar

@j0ey The guy i’m referring to is family,a cousin.

slick44's avatar

That wouldn’t bother me. if i care about a person, then i care about all of you. It dosn’t change because of your sexual preference, your still you. And what gos on between two people is their business. As far as parents., i am a parent and would hope my kids feel they could be open and honest with me. I love them no matter what, If somone has a prob. with it, its their problem not yours.Never be ashamed of who you are.

wonderingwhy's avatar

”‘bout damn time, we were startin’ to wonder ‘bout you.”

Absolute non-issue.

As to how to make an old-fashion minded person understand, you can’t. All you can do is be honest and remember that you have no control over the opinions of others. If they love/care about you, even if it takes time, it won’t matter. You have to be yourself, living to fit the expectations of others is a fast and hard track to misery.

In my experience it’s been harder for guys. The girls I’ve known in similar situations generally seem to have had an easier time, both with others and emotionally. Also, the guys seem to get more worked up about it prior.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

One of my nieces and one of my nephews came out a few years ago.
No one cared.
Sometimes you just have to take a chance and deal with the results.

Fyrius's avatar

Your profile says you live in Australia. What are the people like there? I think that matters too.

In the USA, for example, people are still rather divided as to whether being gay is psychologically unhealthy/sinful/morally wrong/destroying the family as we know it. Here in the Netherlands, by contrast, saying gay people are mentally ill and should become straight would get you about as many shocked gasps as saying black people are lazy and should be holocausted off the face of the planet.
Maybe it’s because this place has been under Nazi rule for a few years. We know how frightening intolerance can get.

How prevalent is this “old fashioned” mind-set you mentioned? Are most people cool with being gay, or are most people against it, is there a controversy going on, how much attention does the issue usually get?

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Take it from this old lesbian: Coming out is hard, but no matter how hard it is it has to be done. The relief will be immense and will be so great that any amount of disappointment of anger from family will be overshadowed 10 fold.

I think it is harder for guys to come out. Fathers seem to be more weirded out by their sons being gay then daughters and mothers are generally weirded out by either a son or daughter. Mothers are always the first to come to their senses and become accepting.

j0ey's avatar

@Fyrius….with younger people ( <40 years old)...It’s not really an issue at all. It is excepted. It definitely still has a stigma attached to it in the whole community though, especially in more remote areas.

However, when people are older than 40, being gay is WAAAAY more of an issue. I have fairly open minded parents..and even they have said they “don’t know if they could handle it if I were gay”....and dont even get me started on my grandparents.

Many of my friends have issues with their parents… of my mates is a personal trainer for a gay couple, and his parents act like he will “catch their disease” almost, its terrible.

I guess Australia is similar to America when it comes to homosexuality, maybe even a bit worse.

JeffVader's avatar

I think your friend is right to be concerned & to consider the consequences fully. However, I also think your friend should ‘come out’ as I dont think he’ll be able to be happy if he isn’t open with those closest to him. I wish I had something positive or useful to offer but this isn’t a situation I’ve had experience with… all the friends I’ve had who have been gay had already ‘come out’

JLeslie's avatar

It has happened to me twice. They seemed very nervous when they told me. I pretty much acted like it was a non-issue, and reassured them that it makes not one bit of difference to me if they are straight or gay (well one was/is bi). One relative was actually related to me by marriage (BIL) and I reassured him he could tell his brother, my husband, that he would be accepting, because I knew for sure that was true.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Well, let’s look at the entire picture, shall we? I have pronounced libertarian tendencies, and I think conservatives have a lot of points in their favor. I live in Texas, have a concealed carry permit and own two pistols. I despise the “something-for-nothing” crowd, and think most liberals are insane.

Having said all that, I have friends who are gay, bisexual, and of every race on the planet. If a friend “came out” as being gay, it might startle me, but it wouldn’t change how I think of them. They would still be my friend.

So what do you make of me, huh? : P

TLRobinson's avatar

My nephew(the sister I’m closest to son) came out about 2 years ago at 18. For as long as the family can recall, he was gay. My sister, her husband and her other children REFUSED to believe it, “he’s just artistic”. Whatever, he was gay! Long story short, he is one of my heroes for being so comfortable in his skin. My sister said he told her, I was his favorite aunt because I never treated him like he was different. Hell, he isn’t! I speak with my sister often, to make sure she doesn’t put her “shame” issues on my nephew.

I say, tell your friend to find a family member or close family friend who will help open the door with others. Either way, be true to who they are!!

MrItty's avatar

My best friend (female) came out as bi to me several years ago. Two different college friends (male) came out to me as gay and bi while in college. My brother came out as gay several months ago.

My reaction to all of them: “Really?! Huh! How about that!”.

And then we went on with our lives.

Barnaby's avatar

My Dad came out to me when I was 21 and it takes a while to accept but in a sense it has made me more open minded about the fact that you cannot hide from who you are and you have to accept who you are as a person.

Fyrius's avatar

“If a friend “came out” as being gay, it might startle me”
This gave me a mental image of someone suddenly bursting out of your bedroom closet when you least expect it.
It’s probably funnier in my head than it sounds when I explain it.

CaptainHarley's avatar

LMAO @Fyrius Nice image! LOL!

Bluefreedom's avatar

I would support them and be there for them and love them just as much as I did before they had decided to come out. This new knowledge would change nothing and I would also admire their courage and resolve in wishing to make it known that they were coming out. Good for them.

AstroChuck's avatar

Not well if it was my wife.

MrGV's avatar

Seriously, I would be like WTF? for a few days before I would respond to them…

JLeslie's avatar

@MrGeneVan But, what if they are telling you face-to-face?

OpryLeigh's avatar

My best friend came out when we were about 16 years old. I already had my suspicions so I can’t say it was a shock at all. It didn’t really make me feel any different to be honest. I was relieved that she was being honest with herself though, as for a long time before she came out she had some shitty relationships with men because she was trying to hide who she really was. As far as making family understand and accept someone for who you are, I think it is a case of ” wait and see”. My best friend was surprised by the amount of people that she believed would take the news badly but were, in actual fact, very understanding about it. You can’t make someone accept something like this though and all I would advise your friend is, if they can’t accept someone for who they are then they can’t be that important.

Jude's avatar

From me, “welcome home”, followed by a big hug.

Coming from a lesbian

lonelydragon's avatar

1. If someone came out to me, I’d be honored that they felt they could trust me, and I would give them my support and encouragement.

2. This is a tricky one. If by “old fashioned” people you mean religious conservatives, I don’t think there is a way to make them understand. A person with strong convictions usually won’t change overnight. If I were in your friend’s situation, I would try to remind family and friends that I’m still the same person. According to psychological studies, homophobic people are most likely to change their beliefs after positive exposure to a gay person (although there is no guarantee). So after time has passed, they may begin to realize that, hey, so-and-so isn’t that different from me.

3. If I had to choose, I’d say that coming out is probably more difficult for men, because males seem to be more homophobic than women.

MrGV's avatar

@JLeslie I would tell them I needed time to get that information to get processed and then walk away.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrGeneVan Of course you are entitled to however you are comfortable handling it, but I would suggest that if you are going to be accepting in the end; to keep in mind that the person telling you probably thought a long time before finally geting the courage to tell you, is nervous about what your reaction is going to be, and nervous about being rejected. The few days it takes you to come around is most likely torture for them.

IBERnineD's avatar

The day my father came out to me I was devastated. Not because he was gay though. It was because I was 8 years old and I had to ask him, a year after my parents’ divorce. And when I asked, “Daddy are you gay?” in the car, he replied as if I had just asked him what the capital of Virginia was. “Yup.” I was upset because I was the last one to know (granted I was 8, but I was mature for my age, well as mature as you can be at 8.) While I sat in the passenger seat with a sudden stomach ache, my father proceeded to ask me if I wanted spaghetti for dinner. We have never discussed that day, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t still irk me to this day, I just felt lied to. I was the last to find out, and he treated it as if it were nothing, when it was a shocked to my system.

If someone were to come out to me I would be honored, that they felt I was that important to them. That they trusted me. I suggest your friend be honest, and there for the people they are coming out to, considering they want them to be there for them. Don’t just hit them in the face with it and change the subject. Be able to talk about it. Wish them luck for me, people may surprise your friend with how open and loving they are. They just have to give them a chance.

Fyrius's avatar

Do you understand why it was such a shocking revelation to you?

IBERnineD's avatar

@Fyrius It wasn’t really shocking since I had an idea that he was. It was more shocking, that it had been a year and everyone in knew, neighbors, friends, family. My sister was the one who told me to ask him and she was 10 at the time. I didn’t understand why my family and father most of all had been hiding it from me for so long. And then I didn’t much appreciate it when he glazed over it, without a thought of how I would feel.

It turns out that my mother thought it would be best if the family sit down and they explain it together to my sisters and I. But my father went to my oldest sister and told her, and she told my other sister. My mother wanted me to get a little bit older so I would understand more, and I wouldn’t find out from my sisters like that. But I was observant at a young age I guess.

JLeslie's avatar

@IBERnineD Were you upset at all because it meant to you that it was another indication that your parents would probably never get back together?

I would have been upset lije you having felt left out of loop. It seems like children are less likely to be traumatized if they just “always” know something, insteadof discovering it later, which would mean the younger they know the better. But, I can also understand why parents feel confused about what to do, and overall they mostly want to do what’s right. The intention is the right one.

IBERnineD's avatar

@JLeslie actually no, I was the only daughter that it didn’t effect that way. I remember finding out my parents were getting a divorce and thinking to myself, “Oh I guess things just weren’t working out” This baffled the school counselor to say the least.

In the end I’m not angry about the part of not knowing, it was really the way he went about it.

drClaw's avatar

Happy for them for figuring it out. Luckily I’m an insensitive bastard so people usually skip the personal revelations when talking to me.

Also I think it might be harder for girls. It seems like a lot of people believe that for them it is strictly a choice. If I had a dollar for every time someone said “all girls have a little lesbian in them” then I would have like $64.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’d be relieved for them. Holding on to that sort of knowledge out of fear must be incredibly draining.

And I’d tell them that it’s not their job to make older people “understand” anything. Older people should be well beyond the point of realizing that not everyone is constituted exactly like they are. Many people, I feel, willfully remain closed-minded and ignorant.

I believe that it’s harder for men to come out, mainly because of the many cultural biases that equate homosexuality with femininity. The feminine in many cultures is highly devalued for whatever reason, and part of the fallout is that male homosexuality is seen as some “strange” version of being a woman, and why on earth would a guy want to be anything like that? :P

Neizvestnaya's avatar

How would you feel if someone you loved came out to you?
I’ve had several family and a few friends over the years come out, not a big deal for me.

How to make “older fashioned” people understand?
It’s better to concentrate on the positive people around you and connect with others, let the “older fashioned”, stubborn or hostiles find their own way which they’ll do in their own time if they have love.

Do you think it is harder for guys or girls…and will people judge the sexes differently?
I personally think it’s harder for females because of how they are judged. Females have to contend with people coming up with crap about maybe hormones are out of whack, just wait until the biological clock starts ticking and all will be (straightened) out, must be bad school or dating experience, etc.

phillis's avatar

I feel so utterly unaffected by it that why it is worth generating a question totally mystifies me. By default, who comes out to me doesn’t matter, either, with ONE exception – my husband. He is the only person I have sex with, so any other person’s sexual preferences can be filed permanently under the category of “none of my business”, thier relationship to me irrespective.

Just_Justine's avatar

Well I am bisexual, I think possibly pan-sexual and I am on my way to being asexual.

But all that aside. I have a son, if he came out to me, I would be sad. I have no idea why considering the first line of my post. I am full of contradictions. I think I secretly hanker for a daughter, so that would rule that out. I also want grand-kids one day. OK, my thoughts aside, the most important thing a person can say is “I am still the same person you have always loved, I haven’t changed.” add a dash of time, and maybe a really nice partner that you get on with and the folks should come round. The rest of the people can sod off.

phillis's avatar

@Just_Justine I can see how having no DIL or, likely, no grandchild would be a disappointment. My oldest little girl came to me perhaps a year ago with suspicions that she might be gay. Paraphrased, I replied, “You can be as gay as you want and I will still love you, just as I do now. But, I don’t care how you do it, you’re going to get me a grandchild.” :):):)

What you’ve said isn’t the same as saying you’re rejecting your child. It’s saying that you would be willing to set aside your dreams in order to create a loving environment in which to continue nurturing your child through his changes. There is no contradiction anywhere in what you said, love.

Exhausted's avatar

If a person announcing their choice to live an alternative lifestyle would cause a rift in their relationship with someone they cared about, I don’t think THAT person is thinking of the one that came out of the closet, but themselves. Sooooo… why care about what they think? Neither of my sons chose a life that I would have wanted for them, but they chose what they wanted for THEMSELVES and that was ok with me. Afterall, it is THEIR life! If either of them told me they were gay, I would tell them I love them the same no matter what lifestyle they wanted to live.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m queer so obviously they’d know I’d be supportive.

phillis's avatar

@Exhausted Brilliant :)
@Simone_De_Beauvoir I adore the pragmatist in you.

DominicX's avatar

Being homosexual, I would be nothing but supportive. Though to be honest, my boyfriend is the only person who ever “came out” to me and I was the first person he came out to, and that was only because I had come out to him a few minutes prior (it was a crazy night).

My parents and friends were also nothing but supportive when I came out to them and I essentially knew they would be, so coming out didn’t cause me that much distress; it was mostly my own personal embarrassment that wouldn’t let me do it earlier.

I would hope that if a person did come out to me, I could help them and give them advice since I have done it myself, even if it was easier than what many people experience. I would try and help them come out to other people.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Kinda like… [ door to closet slams open! ] “Surprise! I’m gay!” Heh!

MacBean's avatar

I’d be thrilled out of my mind because then I wouldn’t feel so goddamn alone.

Jeruba's avatar

I think those are two different cases. People who have difficulty with the idea are likely to be much more understanding with friends and distant relations than with close family. I think a lot of people who are conventional in their thinking are creeping closer to acceptance a few inches at a time, and they’ll get there if they don’t have to move too fast. Bringing the issue close to home is hard for them.

By the same token, parents tend to be fiercely loyal to their kids, and having to accept someone’s different lifestyle can be an eye-opening and heart-opening experience for a lot of them even if they have to manage their shock and possibly disappointment.

I have had friends come out to me, and I was glad they they were comfortable enough to be open with me when they obviously felt some unease about it. There was no reason why it would bother me, but it bothered them. It hasn’t come up in my family, and I wouldn’t have a problem with it if it did.

Chongalicious's avatar

People seem to always want to tell me things like this…I’m usually the first to know. I just support them and actually, I’m proud that they are ready to stop denying who they are :)

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Daughter, neighbor, 4 coworkers, about a dozen friends. Not shocking at all.

neverawake's avatar

Probably to get lost.

neverawake's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir thank you. helping out is just one of my many services, you know

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@neverawake and what are the others?

Fyrius's avatar

Is trolling one of your services too, or is that just a hobby?

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