Opening up to relatives

Psychologist's comment. LGBT personal experience
Maria Naymushina
a psychologist of LGBT-group "Raduzhny mir"
One should not call to come out and convince anyone that this is necessary. You should always take into account the individual situation of a particular person.

For example, when I work with teenagers, the first thing I say is: "Ok, you want to make a coming out. What expectations about this do you have inside?" And the teenager says:" I expect my mother to cry, hug me and say, "Finally, there is no gap between us". "Okay, now let's imagine that you are drinking tea with your mom, you are having a trust-based talk, and you tell her that you are a lesbian. What's then? And the child says that the mother begins to beat the dishes, drives her out of the house, shouts: "You're a slut, your grandfather is a priest, how can you?" So, the child is waiting for love and acceptance, but realizes that in reality the events will develop differently. Then look for options. Maybe you shouldn't open at all? Especially, if there is a real threat, and for example, a try to put a teenager in a psychiatric hospital has already been made. You should always consider risks and resources.

At the same time, there are also opposite situations - expectations that are incommensurable with reality. Example: an adult, a fulfilled person, met a beloved man, lives with him, but does not communicate with his parents, because he is afraid to confess to them. He misses them very much, but he says: if they do not accept me, I will die. "Okay," I say, "let's think about how you die. They kicked you out of their house. What's then?" He says: "Well, I guess I'll go to my home" - "Super! How will you die?" And he begins to understand: something is wrong here. Somewhere the error crept. It turns out that he still does not have relations with his parents, he still cannot be close to them and deprived of the opportunity to tell them about his happiness. And if he confesses, then at least there will be a chance.

The stage of risk assessment is in any case very important. If we are talking about teenagers, it is better if someone else will be by a teenager's side at the time of making a decision about coming out to relatives. Not because I do not give children the right to independent choice. They are just too "inside" the situation, and their field of view is very limited by this situation. Maybe you should consult a friend, another trusted person who knows the parents? Listen to what he thinks about the idea of telling mom and dad everything? Just get an alternative point of view, which will allow from the extreme (unjustified expectations) to get a little closer to the "middle", understanding of reality, the most probable scenario.

When the parents find out that their son is a gay, their daughter is a lesbian, or, for example, does not feel that he or she belongs to the sex assigned at birth, they experience the classic stages of grief. The grief of loss of the image of the child, their plans for him (for example, about grandchildren). According to another scheme, it is impossible to live through a coming out. At first there will be always a shock and a stage of denial. Parents often perceive children as their continuation, as a certain part of themselves: "I have created!", and therefore they deeply experience the loss of their illusions.

For some time a person will be beside himself. Either he will fall into a stupor, or he will start to "tear the hair on the head". Some parents begin to blame the child. Some blame themselves: "I am a bad parent, I will go and hang myself." It is important to remember here: all this has nothing to do with you and your sexual orientation, all this bears no relation to you as a person. All this bears relation to the fact that the parent invented to himself an excellent story about how your life will develop, and then suddenly opened his eyes and realized that this story would not happen.

Parents need to be given the opportunity to be with their grief. Ideally – leave alone for some time, do not try to pull out love and acceptance if they did not appear immediately. The shock can turn into a silent desire to bring the life back to the state when nothing was known. In this case, the parents behave as if they know nothing. But usually everyone, one way or another, comes to acceptance. An analogy can be made: in a family where there is not a single red-haired child, a red-haired child is born. I know an example when husband's relatives did not even meet a woman from the maternity hospital as they thought that she "walked the baby". Yes, first was the shock, but how can you not accept a child? Should you be repainting him throughout the life?.. Or, finally, take and read about how people inherit the hair color.

One must, however, remember that acceptance does not always happen. There are people, especially religious ones, who are under no circumstances ready to embed new knowledge into their world views.
I told my mother about my orientation a year and a half ago. I have been preparing her for this for two years, threw up all sorts of movies, magazines. Finally I confessed: "Mom, I have a girlfriend, I'm a lesbian." She replied: "Oh, yes, I have known this for a long time." With no questions asked and any negative reactions.
Helena, Kazakhstan
I grew up with my grandmother and couldn't confess to her for a very long time. After all she is an elderly person, conservative, with her own life principles and rules. But I could not conceal from her that I was a "special". One day I came home drunk with tears in my eyes and told warts and all. The reaction was absolutely neutral. My grandma only said that everything was fine, and continued doing her things. Our relationships did not change at all. But whether she accepted me completely, I do not know. Sometimes, when I complain to her of any problems, she throws the phrases like this: "When you find a good girl, everything will be fine."

My advice: tell your parents only when you are completely independent from them. Everyone knows the cases when teenagers were driven out of their homes after coming out. Check their attitude using leading questions or invented stories like: "And yesterday I learned that one of my acquaintances is a gay / lesbian," and look at the reaction.
Alexander, Russia – Latvia
Right after I told to my relatives about myself I felt strong misunderstanding and rejection. And when Raduzhny Mir appeared in my life, we absolutely stopped communicating. This happened somehow naturally. But frankly speaking the relationships would be terrible, even if I were not a lesbian, but were a civil activist of any kind. The relations of many wonderful, intelligent people whom I know with the relatives became worse only because they take up a position different from that of Channel One.
Yulia, Russia
Initially I was concealing my orientation from my mother. I was deceiving her, showed some kind of fake relationships with girls ... Due to this, I became aggressive towards her. I closed, did not want to share anything. Imagine her condition: the son does not want to communicate, behaves aggressively, speaks through clenched teeth, and all this for no apparent reason ... She did not understand what her fault was, and she suffered greatly from this.

At some point I lost patience, and I told her everything. She was, of course, upset at first, but then we both felt relieved. We now have such hearty talks, we can talk for hours! I introduced her to my partner, they also began to communicate. The parents should be perceived not as punishers, but as the closest people. After they accept you completely, you will become best friends.
Denis, Russia
My mom is wonderful, "my" person. I have always felt good with her, and our relationships were trusting. I shared everything, any experience, not even counting on understanding - just made her know what was happening to me. And I decided to tell her about my relationship with the girl. I wanted to make her happy - look, Mom, what happiness I have! In return I received tears and hysterics. It turned out more important for the mom that my partner had a cock.

Most recently, my orientation re-emerged in the conversation with my mother. I thought: so much time has passed, she accepted me after all, changed her world view. But alas!
Nastya, Uzbekistan
I confessed only to my mother, and everything is complicated here. She can't accept me completely. Or she can, but she doesn't know how other relatives will treat me and what attitude they will have to this. I made some coming-outs, because my mom pretended that nothing had happened, and started asking again and again when I would have children. One of our talks lasted about an hour. I was explaining that I was still living with this, that this was not a teenage touch of maddness. Then I realized that orientation problems are not with me, and I cannot solve other people's problems. My advice is to accept that there may not be painless way-outs.
Mikhail, Russia
I said in the language she understood: "I want to change the sex" (in the LGBT community, such wording is not used - ed.note). She burst out: "Are you starting that again? Don't tell me about this ever! Do not touch this topic! What will I tell to the dad?!". I told her that this would never change. She has gone.

I did not want my second coming out to be ignored just like the first one. I decided that I would "work" with her, I would give information, I would not leave it like that. Literally three months later I called my mom and said that I was travelling past their village with an affiliate program and would like to stay overnight. She again began saying: "You are raising this topic again! I told - do not! Don't come!" We quarreled. I asked her: "So you are refusing me?" She replied: "I cannot accept this."

That time I did not go. But I did it later, when I was returning from Issyk-Kul Lake. I stopped at my parents. I didn't even talk to them, I just walked in, left the fish I bought on the lake and left. When I got to Bishkek, my mom called me back. The first thing she asked was: what name I was choosing for myself?
Sanjar, Kyrgyzstan
My brother was the first person from my family who got to know who I really am. He was and still is a big support in my life, along with my mother. We talked about my life for the first time when she came to visit me in Amsterdam in 2017. She told me that she knew, and that she understood why I had to leave, that if I had stayed in Macedonia, I would never had a good life. She saw how happy I was in Amsterdam, and that I can be who I really am without anyone judging me.

My mom is extremely proud and my biggest support ever. Years back, I never thought I would have this kind of relationship with her, that one day I could openly talk to her about my relationships and hear her advice. Before all of this, I always felt that coming out to my family would be terrifying… I thought that I will be rejected, that they would try to "cure" me, or that I would be an embarrassment for the family. In the end, it turned out to be completely opposite, and I couldn't be more grateful for it.
Antonij, Macedonia
Text: Vladimir Sokolov, Mikhail Danilovich, Anastasia Sechina. Translation into English: Irina Galina.