I am 28 and gay but have never had a relationship. I have always kept my sexuality secret from my parents’ but always felt guilty about this because they are left wing and in favor of gay rights. However they recently had a conversation in which they commented on being glad that they didn’t have a gay child because ”no parent would really want their child to be gay, knowing how hard life would be for them.”
I have made a start to coming out and most people who matter know I’m gay, however it’s now really tricky coming out to my parents. Is it worth the angst of coming out without having had the benefit of a real relationship?—Secret
Anna says: Yes! Please come out to your left-wing, in-favor-of-gay-rights parents. You don’t need a relationship to do so. All you need is 10 minutes, a little courage, and a tasteful muffin basket. Or two out of three, at least.
A lot of parents think along those lines, that “life will be so hard for my child if they are gay!” Mine did. They don’t mean to be jerks. They are coming from a place of love (most of the time). But, seriously, gay life is not that hard. Suffering from a debilitating, life-threatening illness is hard. Living in extreme poverty is hard. This kid’s life: Hard. Trying to live under the constant threat of being eaten by lions? Hard. Kissing girls, in comparison, not so much.
Of course quality of life for queer people isn’t the same everywhere, and I don’t mean to belittle those oppressions, uncertainties, or fears. If you live in Uganda, you should probably stay in the closet. Or move immediately. But for a lot of us, the crap stew is getting less crappy all the time. And the more of us who can come out, the more it’ll help with issues like fair employment, discrimination, bullying, and hate crimes. The more people who can speak up and say, “Yes, I’m gay” or “My daughter’s gay,” the more we will be heard and the likelier others will be to pick up a tiny rainbow flag and join the cause. Why? Because knowing a queer person humanizes those oppressions and makes them more real to people. If your sister can’t get a job because her boss found out she likes ladies, you’re much more likely to be upset and to take action than if it was, like, some random person on a blog that you’ve never met.
You don’t say exactly how well you get along with your parents, but since you didn’t mention any knife fights or restraining orders, I’m going to assume you get along OK. And if that’s the case, then you definitely should come clean. For your sake, as much as theirs. Because lying, even if it’s just by omission, is hard on our bodies and minds. It creates stress, and stress is the root of 90 percent of all illnesses. Seriously, in America, it’s our No. 1 health problem.
So ready your muffin basket, kiddo. Or if you’re especially ambitious, you could come out on a cake, like this girl did. Badass and functional! And good luck! It’s gonna be OK, but we’re still rooting for you anyway.