There’s no formula for coming out to parents, nor is there a right or wrong way. The fact that you’re out to friends suggests that you’re content with your sexual orientation, and it’s just a matter of developing the comfort and confidence to come out to your parents. It’s not uncommon for parents to be the last to know, or at least for them to be last on the list to come out to. Follow these steps:

Choose the right time

Don’t wait until there’s a crisis, and definitely don’t come out during a stressful holiday gathering. Do it when you feel good about yourself, have support in place, and when your folks are relaxed.

Be positive

Approach this in a positive way and not during an argument, as that will only associate it with something negative.

Practice your lines

“Mom and Dad, because I love you very much I want to share something about myself that’s really important.” Or, “I met someone really special and he has some great qualities …”

Finally, be patient

Know that your parents need time to accept and adjust to this. Just as it took you a long time to come out, it will take them time, too.

Anticipate their feelings

Generally, parents go through a few phases. Initially there might be shock, given the new information. If not, then they probably already had a clue that you might be gay. Next there’s denial — a defense mechanism to deal with uncomfortable new information. They might say things like, “It’s just a phase you’re going through” or, “OK, now what would you like for dinner?” Reassuring them that you’re happy will help alleviate any of their guilt or self-blame.

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist.

E-mail him your questions at


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