Coming Out to Your Parents …… by Cody Hecht

Cody Hecht, who you met yesterday, is our newest guest contributor. I invited Cody to give us his perspective as a young adult, and he brings a fresh point of view to the issues that affect gay youth, a huge part of our community and population. This is a new direction for this site because Cody is much younger than the other contributors and his outlook will be quite different as he will be talking from his own experience as a gay young adult directly to his peers. Adults can learn a lot from Cody who seems to be wise beyond his years. I’m hoping that teens and young adults will also read his posts since this site is not restricted.

Here’s Cody’s first post:


Cody

Hello, my name is Cody Hecht and I’m eighteen. I was asked to write a series of posts from the perspective of a gay young adult. In this first installment, I am addressing the most difficult issue that gay teens must deal with, at least in my opinion. That is, coming out to their sometimes unsupportive parents. Through my spearheading of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at my local high school I have talked with many gay and lesbian teens who have come out to their parents, all with vastly different stories. From heartwarming acceptance and love, to soul crushing hate and ignorance.  It is my goal in this article to help teens who are coming out to their parents deal with whatever may come their way.

Oftentimes I have heard that the biggest obstacle in coming out to parents is that many have no idea how they will react. My advice in order to combat this is to bring up the issue of gay rights in a nonchalant way, maybe say that other kids in school were talking about it, and gauge their reaction to that. If it is a positive reaction, then that’s awesome. That’s a parent that would probably be accepting of having an LGBT child. In this scenario, I would say go for it. Coming out to your parents will probably just bring you closer together, because now you are open and honest with yourself around them.

The bigger issue, and the one I would really like to discuss, is how and if to come out to parents who you know will be unaccepting, or perhaps just ignorant, about having a gay child. The first thing I always asked in a scenario like this is whether or not coming out to their parents would endanger their safety. If you think your physical or emotional wellbeing will be jeopardized by coming out to your parents, you may want to wait until a more proper time. A great time to come out to parents like this is when you leave for college. You can be yourself while there, and your parents can come to terms with your coming out while you’re safely out of reaching distance. If you feel comfortable enough, another option is education. For many people the reason that they don’t want a gay child is ignorance. I would recommend PFLAG, they are an amazing organization that help parents come to terms in a healthy and mature way with the fact that their child is gay. I always recommend that any parent of a child that has recently come out of the closet attend at least one PFLAG meeting.

If there’s one piece of advice I could give every gay kid out there who is dealing with parents who are giving them a hard time for being gay, or who have parents they don’t feel comfortable coming out to, it would be this: The world is changing rapidly; the majority is starting to support us and our rights. Things WILL get better for you, just as Dan Savage said. The rest of the world doesn’t think as your parents do. There are people out there, including me, who love and accept you for being just the way that you are. There is nothing wrong with you; it’s the haters that are wrong. You will find love and happiness.

Cody’s email: codyhecht93 [at] gmail [dot] com

If you know a teen or young adult who might be in crisis or who needs help I urge you to direct them to the various help sites such as The Trevor Project website: Toll free: 1-866-488 7386, OR Suicide/Kids Helpline: 1-800-668-6868 OR Kids Helpline Website

27 comments

  • Thank you, Cody, for having the courage to start a GSA in your school. In my eyes, this makes you a hero, and you should be so proud of yourself. There is nothing an adult can say that is more powerful than the words of a peer. Please keep speaking the truth!

    Reply
  • I’m reminded of advice my mother’s therapist gave her when she decided to come out to my grandmother (lo those many years ago 🙂 ): do it in writing. He said it was possible my grandmother could have a strong, negative reaction initially and come around later, but that if that reaction had happened “real time” (whether in person or on the phone) it could forever after taint their relationship. In fact, that’s exactly what happened, and my mother has always been grateful that all she knew of the negative reaction was the few words my grandmother sent by telegram.

    My stepmother took the same advice when she decided to come out to her family after having been with my mother for several years. They also all eventually became very accepting (and in some cases, very welcoming), but it took a while (years) and she’s glad she didn’t witness their negative reactions.

    The link I posted above, the teen also came out to his mother in writing. And from what she wrote, she also had a very strong negative reaction for the first several hours. It probably helped both of them, going forward, that he didn’t come home until the next day when she’d had time to get past that first reaction.

    Reply
  • Great article, Cody! I think you’re right about trying to find out what your parents or friends think about gay people before coming out. Unless a reaction is extremely strong, it still might be a good idea to come out. One of my friends told me all gay people should be shipped away to their own island. When I later came out to him, suddenly someone he cared about in real life was gay, and he was good enough to change his opinion. He ended up being one of my biggest defenders if anyone gave me a hard time. Likewise, some of my family could be homophobic, but things change when it’s someone from real life and not a distant stereotype in their mind. Not always, but sometimes.

    Reply
  • *hugs Cody* All wonderful and important advice. I would also add that if you don’t feel safe or feel your parents will no longer accept you, make you sure you do have a safe place to go. Things have a way of coming out even when it’s not from you.

    Our son just came out to us and even with accepting, loving parents, I know it’s still a tough thing to do.

    Reply

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