July 23, 2017
advice articles
Coming Out to Siblings

Coming Out to Siblings

Hey Will and RJ,

My name is Mark and I am 20 years old attending college in Pittsburgh. I grew up and lived in Utah nearly my entire life until moving to PA for school. I was raised in the LDS (Mormon) faith for my entire life until I moved away. I’m in kind of a unique position when it comes to my “out” status and it’s starting to be an issues. I’m currently out and open about my homosexuality here in Pittsburgh. I have a boyfriend and we have been dating for more than a year. However, back home, there are no more than 10 people that know that I’m gay. My mother, father and my two older sisters and their husbands are all aware of the fact that I’m gay.

My issue is concerning my younger sister (16) and my younger brother (14). My parents have told me very clearly that they would prefer that I not tell my little brother and sister until they are older. My younger siblings are also pretty close so it would be difficult to tell one without the other finding out. Their reasoning is that being gay is not really acceptable in the culture back home (predominantly Mormon) and they don’t want my little brother and sister to have to deal with bullying or anything like that because of my sexuality. I understand my parent’s concerns but it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep my sexuality a secret from my younger siblings. I typically skype with my family every Sunday and I don’t feel like I’m being honest with my family when we talk because I can’t even mention my boyfriend or anything even remotely associated with homosexuality because my parents are afraid that my little brother and sister will find out. It is growing more difficult as my boyfriend becomes a bigger and bigger part of my life.

Personally, I think my parents are simply not comfortable with my sexuality yet (I came out to them about 2 years ago) and that they are using the bullying as an excuse to continue not having to deal with it. I think my little sister suspects already, although I think it will come as a surprise to my brother. Their excuses are essentially that society is going to become more tolerant and that my younger siblings are just going to continue to mature so it doesn’t hurt to wait. I’m frustrated because I don’t think that there isn’t going to be a “better” time, I’m sure you know that there is rarely a “perfect” time to come out to someone. I think that using the excuse that my siblings are mature enough yet is bullshit. Yes, they are still maturing teenagers but I don’t think waiting will make it any better. They are going to have to come to terms with it sooner or later and I feel that telling them, particularly my little brother, now will allow them to process it and be better prepared to deal with potential bullying IF their peers ever find out.

I did discuss this with my dad and both of us laid out our points. After listening to me, my dad basically said, “Your mom and I don’t want your younger siblings to know yet and we need you to respect that because we’re their parents and we know what’s best.” That frustrated me because I suddenly felt like I wasn’t even a member of the family anymore, like I hadn’t grown up with my siblings for the 16 and 14 years they have been alive. So here is my actual question. How much do I respect their decision as parents vs my own feelings and my honest relationship with my siblings?

Sorry for pretty much writing an essay on my life. I’m excited for the site to be up and running and I hope you two are having a fantastic week!

Wow, what a sticky situation. I’m sorry that you’re being put in such an awkward situation just because your parents refuse to deal with the reality that you’re gay. It’s unfair to you, to your siblings, and to your parents. If I’ve learned anything from growing up in a WASP household, it’s that sweeping problems under the rug is hardly the solution.

If I were in your shoes, I would probably react the exact same way; I feel like your parents are using your siblings as a cop-out. They’re 16 and 14, not 6 and 4. At that age, I was comfortable enough to come out in high school so I was obviously mature enough to understand my choices (not that every teenager is like me, but still, people don’t give much credit to kids at those ages). Yeah, they tend to be a bit more dramatic than most, but they’re not incapable of understanding. In fact, I would wager that they would understand the situation even more than your parents think they do.

I’m not going to pretend that I know your family dynamic at all, since that’s incredibly presumptuous of me, but I would understand if you decided to come out to your siblings. From being with RJ, I’ve learned that we need to put honesty before comfort. Just because we are uncomfortable dealing with an issue doesn’t mean we should lie about it or avoid it. Get it out on the table. Talk about it. Reach a solution together. That’s what a family is all about. Not lies and secrecy. And I feel like I don’t really need to tell you this, but just in case anyone else is going through a similar situation, I would approach the subject as gently as possible. Don’t run in with a banner shouting that you like fucking your boyfriend, ease them into it. Like my mom always says, you get more flies with honey.

I’m really interested to hear back from you in the future, make sure you stay in touch with me via [email protected] I hope everything works out for you, because you deserve it.

– Will

About Will

Will is a recent graduate from Florida State University and transplant to Los Angeles who makes the occasional video on YouTube documenting his life with his fiancé and German Shepherd.

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