⁂ Coming Out - Family Process - November 2020
Many LGBTQ+ folks have celebrated their successful “coming out” to friends and their families. It’s probably a process and event they had thought about and worked on for many months and years. Hopefully, they had created a network of friends and other LGBTQ+ folks that helped them - even coached them - on the scary but desired event. Their understanding and supporting friends were valuable allies for that major and probably emotional time.
Yes, it was a “successful event” for the LGBTQ+ member. They wanted to do it, they needed to do it, and they had their personal courage and friends’ and allies’ support to fall back on to if it didn’t work out as desired.
“COMING OUT” is a major, emotional, and very stressful process for the LGBTQ+ person.
For some families, it is a “welcomed event” because they are already aware of, or at least considering. their family member’s situation. That’s the result all LGBTQ+ folks desire and hope for.
But for many other families, it is a completely unexpected surprise. It suddenly clashes with their beliefs and emotional feelings. Let’s consider the journey from a mom and dad’s viewpoint, but all family members— brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins—can and probably will experience similar emotional journeys.
They haven’t had many years to understand their family member’s needs and desires. They don’t fully understand how their child - young or adult - feels about themselves. Their “coming out” statements are startling and often quick. Strong emotions and feelings are triggered in all directions. The parents and other family members can suddenly feel alone and abandoned. They often have no one to turn to for support and understanding.
“COMING OUT” is also a major, emotional, and very stressful process for the LGBTQ+ family.
As the NAD booklet “Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones” explores the coming out and acceptance stages for parents, it quickly points out—“no one can predict how they or other family members will respond !”—but there are at least six different stages that many parents and families will experience. Let’s take a brief look at those stages.
First is that feeling of “shock” already mentioned above. Even if the parents may have considered it, learning the truth can still be shocking and uncomfortable.
Secondly, parents often turn to “denial” causing them to minimize or discredit their family member’s admissions. They may hope it is only an experimental phase in their family member’s life and it will change.
Another common reaction is “anger” at the situation. Some parents may feel guilty at themselves or their faith. They may believe they’ve done something wrong and that failure leads to anger from the hurt of the situation.
Also, once those heavy emotional feelings calm down a bit, there may be some attempts to “bargain or negotiate” with their family member to stay silent and not share their situation with anyone else. Parents can fear what other parents and families may feel and believe.
Also, parents can start feeling “sadness” for their child and family which can turn into serious depression. That depression can become dangerous and can need professional attention.
Finally, after parents travel one or more of those stages they can begin to understand, discuss, and connect with other LGBTQ+ parents for support. Once these steps are initiated, the parents and families can move into the real world of “understanding and acceptance” and enrich the lives of the entire family.
SDA Kinship’s Family & Friends community desires to be a safe, comfortable, and understanding group of family members that a stressed family can connect with safely and successfully. Our Family & Friends community includes many moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins. These families have members that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other identities.
Also, those members are from all walks of life—doctors, pastors, church leaders, chaplains, professors and teachers, engineers, nurses, store owners, businessmen, and businesswomen. We’ve all traveled many of those paths mentioned above and are comfortable sharing our personal experiences, successes, and failures, with anyone desiring to connect and seek support.
You are invited and welcome to join our monthly Kinship Family & Friends Roundtable Zoom discussions that happen every third Sunday of the month at 9:30 AM Pacific Time Zone. You are welcome to be visible or invisible. You can join the conversations or send a text. We understand and accept anyone’s desires and needs for their own comfort and security.
Please feel free and comfortable to connect with John and Carolyn. You can see our video invitation on the Kinship website. Also, all details for the Roundtable and other information are available on the website.
Blessings and virtual hugs,
John & Carolyn Wilt