Subject: My coming out to parents experience (happy ending) Newsgroups: ba.motss Dear Gay Brothers and Sisters - I thought I would share my recent coming-out-to-my-parents experience. It has a happy ending (or perhaps a new beginning). I have been out to myself and to friends for 3 years. Most of the reasons I chose to come out to my parents are evident in the letter below. (The actual letter is handwritten.) I also realized that by telling one's parents, one only risks losing them; by not telling them, one loses them anyway, but for certain. The reason for sending a letter was because they are 3000 miles away in New York and because I don't think I could have handled the dynamics of telling them either on the phone or in person. A letter allowed me to word things carefully and say everything I wanted to say without the possibility of the conversation being derailed by outbursts or questions. Here is the letter: > Dear Mom & Dad - > > I want to share something about my life that is important because I love > you. I am gay. I have only known this about myself since I was 25. In > the years that have passed since then, keeping this a secret from you > has become more and more of a burden. It has also placed an invisible > wall between us in that I can not share with you much of what goes on in > my life, something that straight children take for granted. I could not > share the excitement of dating somebody new nor the pain when things > didn't work out. I have spent many nights crying with a broken heart, > alone, unable to call you for support. > > I know that you may be feeling shocked, confused, angry, and sad; and > perhaps you might feel that, somewhere along the way, you have failed as > parents. From what I have read, these are common reactions. You have > not failed as parents; you have both been wonderful. Nobody chooses to > be gay and I accept myself and am happy with who I am. My friends have > known for some time and they accept me as well. I hope that you will be > happy for me. > > Part of me thinks that you might have suspected for some time that I am > gay since I never brought home girls while in school and I never talk > about dating or women now. On the other hand, my being gay may have > come as a complete surprise to you and you may need to take some time to > get used to the idea. Hopefully, a few years from now, our relationship > will be closer than it has been in the past. This is part of the reason > I am coming out to you: to tear down the wall between us. When we speak > on the phone and you ask me what is going on in my life and I say, > "Nothing," I have been lying. I haven't been lying to deceive you, but > because I could not tell you the truth. This lying has been eating at > me for some time now and I'm tired of it. So this was the choice I had > to make: either keep lying and allow us to grow even farther apart from > each other, or tell the truth and hopefully have a better relationship > in the long run. > > I know you have always loved me very much. It was very hard to mail > this letter for fear of losing that love. I have cried several times > while writing it. Although you may not understand about being gay, I > hope that you still love me now. Know that I am the same person now as > I was before you read this letter; you just know one more thing about > me. I am still "Paul Jay." When you are ready, you are welcome to call > me so we can talk about this more. > > Love, > > Paul > > P.S.: I have also mailed you a book written by parents of gay children > to help other parents come to terms with having a gay child. You should > receive it a few days after you received this letter. Please read the > book for the sake of our family. I mailed the letter by Priority Mail on Thursday, January 30. I took Thursday and Friday off since I was so upset; my mind was reeling with all the possible reactions my parents could have. I am fortunate to have not only a boss who is understanding, but who is also gay and thus truly understands. On Thursday, I wandered through a redwood forest with a good friend. Being admidst such giant and beautiful trees, trees that have been there before my birth and will continue to be there after my death, helps me to "re-center." I expected the letter to arrive on Saturday, February 1. It did. I waited at home all day for the phone to ring. They called about 2:30pm PST Saturday afternoon. Having caller-ID, I saw their number and knew it was them. I trembled as I reached for the phone. The conversation started off awkwardly: Me: Hello? Ma: It's ma. [ pause ] Ma: I got your letter. [ pause ] Me: And? I don't remember the exact words in the exact order, but they (my dad was on the other extension phone) quickly told me that they love me. I began to cry out of happiness and to release the enormous stress that had built up. My mom had opened and read the letter first; my dad was out of the house at the time. When he returned, she showed him the letter. After reading it, he looked at my mother and said, "He's still my son." They told me it was a beautiful letter and understood how difficult it was for me to write. They were sorry I had suffered and had wished I had told them sooner. My parents had suspected, but they fealt that they would not pry and that I would tell them when I was ready. (They had not suspected for as long as I thought they might have, i.e., high school; they only started to suspect since Thanksgiving 1995.) They echoed that they know that being gay is not a choice and that they are happy that I am happy with who I am. They also told me of gays and gay couples whom they had known (previously unbeknownst to me) and that I, and anyone I choose, would always be welcome in their home. They told me that the only way I would lose them is when they are no longer alive. They said, "You're finally out of the closet." - Paul