Coming Out Is a Family Affair

by David Brager

Can you imagine what you would be like if everyone in your family suddenly saw that you were different, and because of this, they ran away? This is what sometimes happens when a family member discloses that he is gay or she is a lesbian, and such behavior by their family members is frightening, sickening, and painful.

For this reason, each and every member of the Gay and Lesbian community is considered family, for we are here for you in your most difficult times. We will nurture you just as others have nurtured us, for as unappealing as coming out may be, keeping secrets from those you love is even more painful and scary.

Each one of us have gone through the wonder of "Why am I this way?" The answer, however, seems fairly common, "Because I am." But as you try to explain this to someone that has no idea how you feel or what you know in your heart, and you begin to discover your struggle for identity and survival.

You do not need to commit suicide. You are not alone. We have all gone through this path of suffering. But, from this point onward, it will be the people in your life that will make the journey less difficult.

This article is being published so that you and your family can learn about what you are doing, why you must do it, and how your life will be a better place once you can stop being afraid. But, understand, if you need us, we will always be your family, just as you are ours.

The key to this comes from personal discovery. Thinking back, at what point did you even have an idea that you were attracted to someone of your same gender? Moving through your life, you may find patterns of strong companionship and centralizing towards friends that are more of this interest. But, at some point, your interest began to include a sexual attraction as well, even if you have never acted upon these feelings.

The most difficult decision is often, who can I tell first. It is often made more complex by the notion that if you tell someone who does not understand, or worse, will use this information to hurt you, your whole world can become more difficult in an instant.

We want this period for you to be as gentle a transformation as possible, but once you find people who you can open your mind and heart, speak freely and not worry that you will offend them, you will begin to feel better. At the very least, this is the most important thing that we, as family, can do for you, and in time, you can do for others.

Eventually, you may want to come out to your own family. Before you do this, at least you will have a peer group that you can listen and learn from their experiences. Each family is different, and each has a way to deal with this issue. But you will never know until you try, and that decision should be yours.

Here are the words that I used on some of my coming out cards. I have no idea how those words came to me...they just did. I invite you to use them freely, and please let me know how well they worked for you:

Pride & Suffrage

In the matter of the present, Gays represent a minority to the minorities, someone new to kick the dirt off their shoes -- someone lesser in the minds of many -- to bestow the same behaviors that society has bestowed upon them. This is not a motivating reason for anyone to state that they are Gay. Therefore, Gay is something deeper than a choice. Gay is a struggle to exist. Gay is something that comes from birth.

To come out is not something we do to shock people, nor is it done to invoke fear. Instead, it is, for us, to individually fight our fear, to accept ourselves, and to move forward into life. But often, families take the action of a person coming out as an affront; as a direct attack upon their heritage and their parentage.

This is not the case. We just want to continue to be loved by our families, and the fear of losing such love is overpowering. So many Gay young men commit suicide rather than take the risk and see if there can be love.

So, this is my way of saying that I love you, that I hope you will still love me, and you will, somehow, understand why it is that I need to tell you what is deepest in my heart. I am Gay. I don't know why, but I just am.

Please do not take away your love for me. I need you in my life.

David Brager came out at 30, in the midst of his marriage, and is still married. He is currently working on getting a Gay And Lesbian Association off the ground at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, WA. He asks that if you use the Pride and Suffrage cards, let him know how they worked for you. He can be reached at dibrager@geocities.com
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