How To Come Out to Your Parents by Email or Letter

It’s important to tell your parents you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or genderqueer.If you’re worried about their reaction or want to avoid getting tongue-tied, writing a letter or email might be the best option.Be confident, write in simple terms who you are, tell them a bit about your process of self-discovery, and ask for their support.Give them time to digest the news.If you’re worried about your well being, it might be best to send a letter when you are on your own.

Step 1: Decide if you should come out to one or both parents.

Determine if you should address your letter to both of your parents or just come out to one.If you write your letter to one parent, they can help you come out to the other.If you write a letter to both of your parents, it’s a good idea to either print two copies or send each of them an email.They’ll each have their own copy of the same thing.If you want to come out to your parents, you have to find a trusted friend.If you need support during the process, ask this person for it.

Step 2: Simple, easy to understand language is used.

If you use terms that you’re comfortable with, it will be easier for your parents to digest.It’s easier to tell your parents you’re attracted to men or women than it is to say you are gay.If you start describing your trans identity using terms they’ve never heard, you could confuse them.

Step 3: Explain who you are.

Let your parents know that discovering who you are has been a process.You don’t need their permission to be yourself if you tell them that.You could write, “I hope you understand that this isn’t just a phase, and that it’s taken some time for me to discover and accept myself.”

Step 4: Tell them what you need.

After writing about who you are and how you’ve come to accept yourself, you should include steps that your parents can take.Let them know what you want.Let them know that you want an honest relationship with them.Write that you are relying on them for support and guidance.If you’re writing to one parent, tell them that you want them to help you come out to your other parent.If you want to come out to other family members on your own time, you could ask them to keep this to themselves.

Step 5: Discuss ways of continuing the conversation.

If you want to continue the conversation in writing, you should ask them to reply with their own letters.If you’re writing to a parent who is far away, ask them to write back to you or to set aside some time to talk on the phone.You could write “I’m not sure what steps we should take next” if you don’t have a preference.If it would help you make sense of all this, you can write me a letter.

Step 6: Go back and revise your letter.

After writing a letter, take some time away from it and put it in a secure place.If you want to get a good night’s sleep, read it back to yourself.You should revise it according to where you could be clearer, more confident, or more respectful.

Step 7: Give them a stress-free time to read your letter.

It’s hard to come out, so don’t give your parents a letter during an argument or a crisis.Don’t use alcohol or drugs before giving them the letter or discussing it with them, and try not to use coming out as a weapon.If a relative is sick or your sibling is in trouble, you might want to wait until things calm down.

Step 8: They should be provided with educational resources.

Links to online resources that can inform them and help them process the news can be attached to an email.It is possible to include information in your printed or handwritten letter.Parents fear that their children will face prejudice, violence, contract diseases, or never live a happy life.Helping them understand that you’ll be happier if you can be open and honest about yourself can ease their fears.There are many excellent websites online.There are resources for parents and family at the University of Southern California.There are lots of helpful information offered by PFLAG (formerly known as Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

Step 9: Give them time to process your letter.

Give them your letter in person, mail it, or send your email, and let them digest the news on their own terms.They might need a little while to process and hopefully accept what you’ve written.When you give them the letter, tell them that you hope they can read it with an open mind.It’s important that you take all the time you need to process it.

Step 10: You can follow up with a conversation.

The best way to handle the situation is for you and your parents to exchange letters.Try to have a face to face conversation with them.It might be easier to talk to them in person once you’ve broken the ice in writing.Talk to your parent on the phone if they are far away.Next time you see them, have a face to face conversation.

Step 11: You should try to anticipate their reaction.

Pay attention to how your parents respond to the news.If they talk negatively about issues like marriage equality or adoption, take note.It is possible to get a feel for how they would react if you came out to them.Understand that your parents might feel shocked, sad, angry, guilty, or afraid if you tell them.Some people take more time to process news than others.Have faith that their emotions can change over time, and try to respect their emotional response.If you want your parents to react in a certain way, try not to lose hope.You have the right to live your life as you please.

Step 12: If you think they’d cause physical harm, hold off.

No one would have to live in the closet in a perfect world.Your number one concern should be your safety.If one or both of your parents have ever threatened to harm you, you should hold off until you know you can come out safely.If you really need to be honest with them but are concerned about your safety, you could wait until you live on your own or are out of harm’s way.

Step 13: If necessary, wait until you’re financially independent.

Take your financial well being into account when you decide how, when, and if you should come out.When you’re financially independent, it might be in your best interest to live at home or rely on your parents.Do my parents make comments about me being gay or not accepting me for who I am?Would they allow me to live at home or pay for my college?If they kicked me out of the house, what are my options?

Step 14: Useful organizations and resources can be found.

Some people have gone through the same process.If you are frustrated, scared, alone, or confused, you can get help from one of these organizations.The PFLAG Queer People of Color and Allies (QPOCA) Human Rights Campaign are useful national groups.

Step 15: Your support system needs to be lean on.

Before coming out to your parents, you need to know who you can trust.You can ask someone to stay with you for a while if you think you need a place to live.It will help you get through a difficult coming out process if you have someone else listen and lend emotional support.