Coming Out

by Brett Michaelson, Age 20 (June 1996)

I procrastinated a long time before I finally came out to my parents, because, like so many other young gays, I was uncertain of how they would respond and feared some amount of rejection. A big part of my nervousness was due to the fact that my parents are religious and have always been very active in their church, although their religious as well as political views have also always been rather liberal. While I knew that they were not prejudicial towards persons of other racial or ethnic backgrounds, I did not know their views on homosexuality since it is a subject I had always avoided discussing with them.

When I came out to my parents, their response was very supportive and exceeded my hopes and expectations of them. Through tears they both told me they love me no matter what and the main thing they want is for me to be happy.

When I told them, I was very emotional. My dad immediately came over and hugged me, followed by my mom. My dad had figured it out already. He said he'd had a feeling that this was the case for a while now and that he had been very worried about me because I had seemed so troubled and distant for such a long time. The last couple of times I'd been home, he said that when he saw me off (when I went back to college) that he started crying because he felt a profound sadness about me and that there was something left unsaid between us.

He was not upset about me being gay, he said he was so afraid because he feared that I was going to tell him I was HIV positive. "I don't want you to die," he told me. He was really relieved when I told him I had tested HIV negative, and was very careful and not promiscuous.

I had gone over and over what I wanted to say to my parents so that I practically knew it by heart. But I also wrote them a very personal letter telling them many of the things I had always wanted to say to them, but never could (this came naturally for me since I am an English/Communications major). They were very touched by the letter (which I read out loud to them after we had talked for a while and things were less tense) and said it was the most moving, heart-felt thing I've ever written to them.

I wanted my parents to understand very much that my homosexuality is not a choice and that I have always been this way and always will be. I emphasized that it isn't their "fault" and that it is very likely genetic and they could have done nothing different in raising me to change things. I explained that I am still the same person I was yesterday and a year ago. Nothing has changed about me other than my desire to be honest with them about the part of my life I've never discussed with them before. Most importantly, I told my parents I was coming out to them because I love them both very much and I want to be happy and honest and have their love and support instead of being secretly miserable and silent.

They understood and never once questioned if I was sure about being gay, as the parents of some of my friends have done. It turns out they are more educated about homosexuality than I thought, partly due to the fact that recently two different couples who they are friends with at church have had their sons come out to them (incredible but true!) One of them is the only black couple in the congregation. Their son is older and lives out of state.

Coming out to my parents was the hardest thing I have ever done. But I am so glad I did because for the first time I have a completely honest relationship with them and the bond between us is stronger now than ever before.

©1996 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.