Feb 18 2012

The importance of the right environment to ‘come out’ into

Published by at 11:15 pm under Coming Out

Yesterday the LGBT press was literally cooing at the news of a 7 year-old boy coming out as ‘Gay’.

‘Amelia’ a blogger for the Huffington Post recounts the story of how her 7 year-old son decided to tell her quite nonchalantly that he was Gay.  It’s a big of an ongoing saga and its well worth reading the related posts on the subject too if you want to get a full understanding of the circumstances that led to this boy’s decision to declare himself gay.

Just like Amelia, you can probably wonder if this will be the last word on this boy’s orientation, but one thing is not in doubt, Amelia has created an environment where her son feels comfortable, nay, confident in telling her he is ‘Gay’ and it got me wondering. If I had that environment as a child would I have felt more comfortable coming out?

Its not exactly like parents were intolerant of gay people; we had neighbours who were gay, we chatted with them made polite conversation, but I wouldn’t say my youth was filled with gay role models. My parents explained homosexuality in a way I suppose they thought was best. “Some men want to get married to other men.” This was long before gay-marriage was legal anywhere so typically this was qualified with, “but they can’t, so they just live together like they were married.”

As a 9 year-old this gave me a pretty clear idea of what being gay was all about. People who were married lived together and slept in the same bed, they also kissed and called each other ‘love’. That was being married was all about in my 9 year-old brain so adapting this to two guys instead of a man and a woman was pretty easy.

But equally there was something else, something that clearly told me this was not a normal state of affairs, maybe it was the way my mother said “Some men…” with a strained emphasis on the word “some”. Maybe it was the way my father sneered and used the word “poofter” in a condescending way. All I know is I was left with the impression that it wasn’t entirely OK to be gay.

At the time this wasn’t hugely damaging to my psyche, I was more interested in playing GI JOE with my brother than figuring out my orientation.

However, by the time I was trying to figure out my orientation, I was crippled. I felt had no safe place to talk about my feelings even though, my mum (if not my dad), would have been sympathetic had I not been scared into silence.

So instead I suffered quietly, never daring to mention my same-sex attraction until my late 20s.

So when I read the story of the 7 year old who ‘came out’ as gay, I couldn’t help but feel, that in spite of having parents who were largely tolerant of homosexuality, I was cheated out of the tolerant loving environment where I could have felt as confident as this boy did when it came to discussing my own orientation.

My fear is many parents; including many readers will make the same mistakes as my parents.

As best as I can work it out, the trick to creating that tolerant loving environment that’s safe for LGBT kids to come out into, is to talk about homosexuality with genuine warmth and love, instead of clinical distance. To avoid any mockery of homosexuality or same-sex relationships, and to tell your kids you love them and to love them more when they confide in you.

We need to make more mums like Amelia.


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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “The importance of the right environment to ‘come out’ into”

  1. Jon 19 Feb 2012 at 3:15 am

    I totally agree with you on this. While I grew up in a loving environment, I know that my parents views of the LGBT community delayed my own understanding of my orientation. It took many years to come to grips with the fact that I was not straight. I had a gay experience at the age of 13, but it took another 17 years for me to be in a relationship that felt ‘safe’ for me to identify and come-out bi. Still, it was something that I’ve shared only with my sister, wife, and a few friends. I still don’t think I am able to tell my parents. That history of their views that delays me. I know they would still love me, but I have that same barrier that I know many people share.

  2. Hannahon 23 Feb 2012 at 6:34 am


    I’m not sure whether this is the right place to post about my problem. I have read some of the posts here and they have made me feel much better.

    Though I’m a (bisexual) female, I am quite convinced that this post will make many people think, despite of their gender or sexual orientation.

    I have a female friend who is bisexual to some extent. She has never had sex nor dated a woman, but she does feel attracted to women.
    We kissed once and it was very nice. A month after that I started having feelings for her. I liked her as more than a friend, although I was not in love with her. I told her because I needed to tell her, since we are good friends and we both know about each other’s bisexuality. I also told her my feelings wouldn’t change our friendship.

    Couple of months later my romantic feelings for her went away, though I still felt (and feel) attracted to her.

    Last weekend I got very drunk and I started “harrassing” her saying “give me a kiss”, in a nice way, a couple of times. I don’t remember much more about that night. Only that I was wearing a t-shirt and while we were at my place I took it off and put a corset on. Don’t remember anything else. Then we went to a bar, we drank a coke and I walked her to the bus stop.

    Everything seemed to be fine, but she has not talked to me ever since. She will not pick up the phone nor reply to sms’s nor facebook messages.

    She’s an important friend to me, and I wanted to ask you guys how could I deal with this. She is quite sensitive; I have another female bisexual friend I’ve wanted to kiss sometimes and she’s just told me “Go f**k yourself” with a smile and in a friendly tone.

    We live in Europe in a country where we have same-sex marriages and adoption, so it’s not like we’d be pressured by society…

    I’d like to know what I did and said while I was drunk, and if anything I said or did offended her.

    I guess that maybe this kind of situations might appear often between same-sex bisexual friends…

    Has anyone had a similar experience?

    What could/should I do?

    Thanks so much for your time and consideration, stay strong!


  3. bithewayon 24 Feb 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Other than apologise for anything you did or didn’t do whilst drunk there’s not much to be done.

    Of course if you had mind-bowing girl on girl sex, but you don’t remember, there re two problems:
    (1) She could be feeling awkward about it. (2) Knowing you don’t remember it isn’t going to make her feel special.

  4. Blakeon 25 Feb 2012 at 9:17 am

    I just found this website and I’m so glad! I’ve known I’m Bisexual for years, and I’ve been struggling with many different things spanning from gender roles in society to a general feeling of just not fitting in with what is considered “normal.”

    But now that I’ve told you how stoked I am, I would totally agree. I think If I would’ve had a more excepting family I would have probably come out by now. I’m still working on it just because I’m not sure how my close friends and family would react. It’s seemed to scare off my last girlfriend, and the people I do come out to just think I’m not really serious. I wish there was a comfortable place to openly say you’re a bisexual man in the tangible world, but I’m glad I at least found a place where I can relate to almost every story.

  5. Anonon 21 May 2013 at 7:39 am

    Just as important as the home environment is the school environment. My school years were full of people using gay as an insult, and bisexuality was barely even mentioned and never in a positive light. Truth be told I technically knew what bisexuality was but I simply didn’t associate it with a real thing for many years, not least because there were simply no examples I knew of that told me bisexuality was something other than an abstract concept. It wasn’t so much biphobia as being the difference between reading a description of an animal and actually seeing one for real. Kids will always find something to use as an insult so it’s difficult to stamp out insults of people who are different among the very young (9-12).

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