Women Lead Pendidikan Seks
March 11, 2015

Coming Out to Parents

Can you be truly happy without ever coming out to your parents?

by Magdalene

Dear Madge,
This is a typical problem faced by many gay men in this planet. As you seem like a pro-level fag hag, I guess you have established a time-tested advice for this kind of problem. 
I came out to several of my friends three years ago and they still love me as always. I also consider myself blessed for having an open-minded workplace where it's okay to be gay. Still I am not a happy 20-something gay man. 
I don't have the guts to come out to my parents. When I was a teen, I was afraid to come out, as I am frightened of being kicked out the house. Now that I'm financially independent, I realize that my actual fear is my worries that my gayness may hurt them. All my life I have been their beloved son who is brilliant at school, fluent in reciting Quran, kind to people, having a cool job and so on. My coming out will certainly destroy their dreams of me marrying a girl and having a heterosexual sakinah-mawadah-warrahmah family. 
I don’t want to ruin their dreams, but I don’t want to live a life of lies my entire life.

Sholeh Queer
Hi Sholeh Queer,
You seem like a really nice guy and I’m glad you work in an environment that doesn’t judge you and that your close friends accept and love you as you are. There’s no reason for them not to.
However, I understand that coming out to one’s parents is always the hardest.
We’ve had a few really moving stories of coming out, some with happy ending, some with not the most ideal outcome. It’s no wonder that many choose not to come out for reasons similar to yours. Still, in all my experience as a “hag”, a confidante to many close friends who are gay, I never heard them regretting their decisions to open up. In any case, you never really know how things will turn out, do you? Though you can guess, based on how much you know your parents.
Sometimes coming out is just a matter of timing. Some people tell their parents and families when they are relatively young in their late teens or early twenties, some wait until they are financially independent.
At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself, what is the biggest drive for you to come out to your parents? Is it to live an honest life, to be relieved of the pressure to “pretend”, and to free your parents from false hopes that you’re going to marry a woman and give them grandchildren?  
Secondly, ask yourself, is keeping this part of you from your parents the biggest cause of your unhappiness or the biggest barrier to you becoming a “happy gay man”?
Thirdly, is your reluctance to come out really based on the fear of hurting them, or are you afraid that they won’t love you as you are? The former concern is based on the consequence of your action to your parents, the latter centers on its impact on you. Both are legitimate causes of concerns with outcomes that are equally devastating.
Having asked all these, then you have a clearer picture what it is that you want in life and how much you are willing to sacrifice.
No big and important step is ever easy in this life. A lot of things need courage, sacrifice and the willingness to accept whatever outcomes it will bring. I can’t say whether or not you should come out to your parents now, as I don’t know you, nor you parents personally. But I can tell you that when you’re ready to come out – if not now, some time in the future – it should be in your own terms. Whether you want to “drop the bomb” or soften the ground first will be your choice alone.
For now, perhaps start by being yourself a little more when around your parents. For one, do not give false impressions to them that you will marry a woman. Keep being a smart and kind son to your parents, but everyday allow yourself to open up to the possibility that you do not have to hide behind a façade anymore.
I’m an optimist and I believe that human beings have the intrinsic capacity to overcome their challenges, as do you. Just remember, if you ever come out, whether or not they accept you, it is not a reflection of who you are more than it is a reflection of the society your parents inhabit and the social norms they practice.
Got a burning question about something? Send us your question to [email protected] with the subject 'Ask Madge.'