Coming to terms with your own sexual identity can be difficult, but made even more so when you know your parents will react badly. If your parents have demonstrated homophobic attitudes in the past, it may make you want to hide from sharing that part of your life with them - and some people choose to do that. If that's not you, though, and you want to come out, here are some tips for dealing with your homophobic parents.
Understand the consequences of your honesty.
If you are a minor, living under the same roof with homophobic parents may become far more difficult than you imagine.. Homophobic parents tend to react quite dramatically to the news that their child is gay, so be prepared for any or all of the following:
They may restrict your activities so that you cannot associate with "bad influences" (namely, your friends who are tolerant and accepting).
They may enroll you against your will in "educational programs" or religious organizations that claim to be able to changes one's sexual orientation. Any or all of these things may happen. Just being aware of this may cause you to wait until you are closer to being able to get out of their home.
Even if you aren't a minor, your honest disclosure may mean you have to face them crying, being angry, saying things they may or may not end up meaning, such as, "You're no son of mine," or "We're disowning you," or "We don't want you to go to hell." It can be unnerving and very painful.
Realize that your life is yours alone.
It is your responsibility to rise up and live it - on your terms, and no one else's. If you choose to share the news of your sexual orientation with your parents, their reactions, no matter how dramatic or intense, should not sway you or influence you to become similarly dramatic or intense. Quietly remember, in the face of all the upheaval that may result, that you are the person who must live this life, and even if your parents are unhappy or even angry, it is your life to live and they really can't stop you from doing so unless you allow it. However, as long as you live under their roof, they do have a say in your activities, so be prepared for this--it might be time for you to step out on your own. If you're not ready to be on your own, perhaps you're not ready for this revelation.
Be kind and compassionate.
Your parents may react badly, or they may react with sorrow or confusion. They may want to deny the reality. Whatever they do, remember that they love you and want the best for you. To them, your news may be devastating as they face a future in which they may not be able to plan your wedding or look forward to grandchildren from you. They may have a very tough time imagining a future where these things are possible - but they are. Try to console them and help them realize that things are looking much brighter on both fronts, and gay people get married and have kids all the time these days.
Respect their religious views.
If their objection or pain is on religious grounds, understand that you may not sway them or gain their approval. They believe they are acting in your best interest by taking a stand against your "lifestyle." You will not be able to alter their views, and it won't help you to attack their faith. They may challenge your faith - if you are a Christian, it may help you to read How to Reconcile Your Christian Faith With Your Gay Life.
Don't expect to gain their approval, but make it clear you don't require their permission.
They may ask what you would consider "approval" from them, and once you answer, they will be sure never to do that. Sometimes, it can be helpful to say: "Unless you expressly tell me you approve, I will always understand that you don't." Still, your parents may attempt to forbid you to be gay. Don't argue or fight with them, it won't work. Instead, say things like, "I'm not asking permission here. I'm not expecting your approval. I am hoping for your acceptance and tolerance." Remember though, that if you're still dependent on them they do have a say in how much they support you. You don't need their permission, but they can withdraw their support.
Allow them their reactions and responses.
Listen respectfully as they react to the news that you are homosexual. Respond carefully and compassionately, but firmly - don't be seen to be wavering. It's okay to cry, but you must remain resolute. If you appear to waver before them, it will give them the hope that you can "change." Study after study has shown that homosexual behavior can be curtailed, but homosexuality cannot really be altered or eradicated. Giving them false hope would be cruel and it will also make the whole process of acceptance a much longer road. If you are firm now, they will know what to expect in the future; if they expect you will be gay no matter what, acceptance will come that much sooner.
Know when enough has been said.
When you've told them what you need to say, and you have allowed them to have their say, enough has been said for one day. Leave them alone to discuss it between them, and have faith that you will eventually have a good relationship with them again. No matter what, you will have been honest.
Realize they may need time.
Sometimes, it just takes awhile before people can adjust to a new reality. Don't expect things to be perfect the next time you see them - it may remain awkward or strained for some time to come. If it's very strained when you see them in person, try to give them some space by just calling instead, or sending emails. Try not to make every communication about this subject, as you attempt to gain their acceptance. Instead, be willing to allow them to just shoot the breeze with you, talk about innocuous things like the weather and how Aunt Bernice is doing these days. This gives your parents the hope that they can have a simple, uncomplicated chat with you, and that things can feel normal again. It doesn't mean you ignore it or allow them to pretend. It just means you're willing to give it a rest while they adjust.
Be prepared for the worst.
If they really dig in their heels and give you an ultimatum ("If you plan to remain gay, we can't have any more to do with you"), you must be aware of what your response will be. If you plan to pretend, or be closeted with them, then that will be the way you get along with them from now on. If you plan to allow them to believe you may change, plan to have them arranging new avenues for you to explore in that vein all the time. If you plan to simply stick to your plan to live an authentic life, you may need to be willing to say goodbye to them, at least for the time being. If that's the case, you are free to continue to send them cards, emails, and even call to say you love them. They are free to discard before reading, or hang up on you. They may try to get other family members to join their cause.
Don't give up on them.
If you do love them and want them in your life, you must release them to whatever decision they make. If you continue to try to reach them, it's likely they will eventually respond. Just don't give up trying or hoping.