Ever since Just Because He Breathes was printed on Huff Post, I’ve been getting emails. LOTS of emails. And so many of them have been from gay “children” who want to have a healthy, good relationship with their Christian parents. I’ve noticed that a lot of you, like me, are people pleasers…and almost all of you want to have open, honest, respectful relationships with your parents, whatever your age. I’ve answered a lot of the questions, but I’m realizing that I’ve been saying a lot of the same things over and over again, so I am going to try to put them together here, for use by any gay “child” who has a Christian parent – or even any parent – with whom they want to be in relationship.
Things to Remember About Parents
Parents, particularly Christian/Catholic/conservative parents, are probably going to need some time…maybe a lot of time…to figure out how they feeling after finding out that their son or daughter is gay/trans/queer.
The list below is not a list of excuses for bad behavior on the part of parents…but it is my attempt to help you have some understanding of where they might be coming from. Families require a lot of grace…hopefully given by all parties. But sometimes you might have to be the one who gets the grace going.
I think this is for a lot of reasons, but here are some of the biggest ones:
1. No parent wants his/her child to have a harder life.
Inarguably, the life of an LGBTQ teen/adult is more difficult than the life of a straight person in America – and immeasurably more difficult in many other countries. This is something any parent is going to feel, even if they don’t have ANY concern about your sexuality otherwise.
2. Most parents have the “dream” that their child will someday grow up, marry and produce grandchildren.
When I found out that my future wasn’t going to necessarily include four heterosexual children and four spouses, all happily married with their own children (obviously, this is ludicrous, in hindsight), I had to surrender that dream to God…to give that up for the better dream that He had for us. But that took some time. Allow your parents some time to grieve the loss of that dream, if you can.
3. We parents can put WAY too much importance in how our family and friends see our children, and, consequently, us.
It is true that “good parents” are often deemed worthy of that title by the spiritual, moral and academic success of their children. This is a complete fallacy, but it is a very real pressure that parents face. It takes time, and a lot of strength (for us, that came from God), to be able to let go of what our friends and family think, and to ONLY listen to what God is saying to us. Most likely, you won’t be able to convince them that what their friends at church think doesn’t matter. You might be able to tell them that you need to know that YOU are more important than their friends, though.
4. Christian parents have been taught that being gay means this: You will reject God. You will live a dangerous, life-threatening “lifestyle.”
You will never be truly happy. You will abuse drugs and alcohol. You will have repeated, random hook-ups with complete strangers. A lot of them. And again, you will reject God…which means, to many Christian parents, that you will spend an eternity in hell.
None of the above is true, but it was EXACTLY what I was taught. And what I believe is still being taught by many churches and Christian organizations (see “The Story of Gay” on Julie Rodger’s blog). This lie – what I like to call propaganda – is largely what caused my SEVERE reaction of fear when Ryan came out to us. I believed all the Christian pastors and leaders who had told me that these were the facts. Again, it took time for us to realize that this was not true…not true at all.
5. Parents can sometimes be incredibly hurtful and cause you unspeakable pain.
We can do this, all the while thinking that we are doing what is “best” for you, because we are “speaking truth.” Too many of you have told me of horribly painful things your parents have said, done or posted on FaceBook. Although it is easy for me to think, “At least we never kicked Ryan out, or told him he was going to hell, or said he was abomination…at least we weren’t THAT mean”….the truth is we did do things that, unintentionally, broke Ryan’s heart. I could make you a list (not without crying). But we never did stop loving Ryan…we just hadn’t learned, yet, what the kind of unconditional love God was calling us to looked like.
6. Christian parents may need the support of other Christian parents with LGBTQ kids.
A friend of mine said this:
“I found out our son was gay over two years ago, accidentally. I sat on the info for over a month and cried every day. I searched the net for a forum like this, a Christian group. I found PFLAG and a very kind lady emailed me and we spoke on the phone. She has three gay children. When I mentioned being a Christian, well, I might as well have said I have the plague, in her eyes. She said that Christian kids have a much harder time because their parents and churches usually turn their back on them. I was discouraged and alone.”
In the past month, we have started a small network of Christian parents who love Jesus and who also love their LGBTQ child. Right now, the parents are literally and figuratively all over the map – where they live and where they are in their process of learning to fully love and relate to their child. But since we’re all on the journey, we are able to be there for each other, providing support, prayer and understanding that we can’t find in our local churches. We are praying for the resources needed to allow this network to grow and include more parents; please pray with us for this!
My good friend, Susan Cottrell, also has a great blog with lots of resources for Christian parents of LGBTQ kids: FreedHearts.com
7. You are going to need a lot of patience and a lot of faith.
We parents are slow to learn things sometimes, but just as God doesn’t give up on you, He doesn’t give up on us. It was GOD who did the “heavy lifting” in what Rob and I needed to learn; He was the one who really hammered the hard lessons home. He never abandoned us, even when we were way off track, following the trail of our own fears rather than following His voice.
Things to Remember About Yourself as an Adult Child
I’d like to share with you what I am learning, as a 49 year old woman, in my own life with our adult children, and through a lot of therapy sessions with an incredibly gifted Psychologist/Spiritual Director.
1. It is not your job to avoid hurting your parents’ feelings.
Though our kids (I will call them kids, but they are all adults now) do their best to be respectful, as they would in any relationship, often they have hard things they need to say to me. They need to tell me how I have hurt them, annoyed them, neglected them in some way, or made them feel unimportant. Sometimes they express these feelings beautifully, and sometimes it comes out in a rush, and it is very messy. Either way is okay. I am their mom, and it is my job to hear them, however they communicate. If my feelings are hurt, that is between me and God. If they have truly said something that was mean or spiteful, I can bring that up, but my first priority is to truly listen, mirror them and ask forgiveness, if necessary (it usually is). If I don’t respond well, it is NOT their fault nor their responsibility.
2. It is not your job to avoid causing your parents’ pain.
Actually, pain is a good thing for us as parents. It causes us to look inside, to examine our own hearts, and to depend on God, who is our ultimate source of comfort and security. When Ryan came out to us, it was an enormous gift. At the time, my walk with Jesus had grown rather stale. But after he came out, it was ANYTHING but. Through the next 8 years, my walk with Jesus grew and grew and grew. All thanks to Ryan’s honesty…my pain…and my resulting need for God’s help.
3. It is not your responsibility to protect your parents from trauma or illness.
Many of you are afraid, or have been told, that your sexuality will cause your parents a serious health crisis. But the truth is this: When Ryan came out to us, I threw up for days. I lost over 20 lbs, and I was already thin. I didn’t sleep. THAT WAS NOT RYAN’S FAULT. It was MINE. It was about MY fear. MY lack of faith. MY inability to trust Jesus to love Ryan more than I do.
4. It is not your job to make your parents happy by being a “good” daughter or son.
Nobody can make anyone else happy, but you can almost kill yourself trying, as I know all too well. If my happiness depends on the choices one of our children make, I am in BIG trouble. Not only will that not work (they’ll never keep me happy), but it will push our kids away from us faster than I can say the word happiness. Our kids have to know that they are free to make ANY choices, follow ANY dream, disagree completely with us as parents, and even disconnect from us completely…and we will STILL love them just because they breathe. Our happiness cannot be based on them…it MUST be based on our own lives – our own walks with God, our own marriage, our own friendships.
5. It is okay to tell your parents what you wish your relationship could look like.
If you express to your parents your desire that they really know you, and love you, that is what our family calls “leaning in” to the relationship – moving toward them because you love and value them. As you know, they aren’t mind readers. If you’d like them to ask about who you are dating, let them know that you’d love that, when they are ready. If you’d like them to treat you just like they treat your straight siblings, tell them that. It always works great to start these kind of statements with phrases like, “It would mean a great deal to me if….” or “One thing that would speak love to me is….” or “You are very important to me. I want to be close to you. It would help me to be closer to you if…..”
Just remember, what you desire cannot be an expectation. It can’t be something you demand, because you don’t control your parents (as you know). But do tell them what you need! This has been one of the greatest gifts our adult children have given to us.
6. The best thing you can do for your parents – and yourself – is to separate from them.
Become your own person, not dependent on their approval or their favor. In the end, this will result in a better, more real relationship with them, if they desire. Let me give you a few examples.
When Ryan returned to our lives, he was an adult, gay man who had walked away from his faith. He had made choices that were very different from ours, but they were his. He was completely honest about those choices, both the good ones and the bad ones. Our new relationship was built upon mutual respect, complete honesty and joint willingness to admit wrongs and to ask forgiveness. There was a clear acknowledgement that he wasn’t asking us to dig him out of the legal, financial and moral holes he found himself in, any more than we were asking him to help us feel “good about ourselves” as parents. This new relationship was PURE GIFT. It was authentic and open and DELIGHTFUL. There were no assumed expectations and Rob, Ryan and I each had complete freedom to be ourselves, and love flourished.
In our oldest daughter’s first year of college, Rob and I saw our firstborn make a marked transition from her dependence on us to dependence on God. She stopped, for the most part, asking us for advice, and instead went to God and to the mentors and friends He had supplied. Her life, in the past decade, has looked very different from what mine looked like in the same time period. Had she followed my example, and my natural inclinations for her, she would have been married for some time now, and would probably have a couple of children. But that wasn’t how God led HER. He had a different plan for her and it was a better plan for her (big surprise, right?). Our relationship today is stronger than ever, largely because neither of us are dependent on the other for our happiness, and we are both free to communicate – or not to communicate – as often as we like. She is a separate individual, accountable to God, and she makes her decisions with His help, not with ours (though sometimes she asks for our input). It took me much longer to be okay with the fact that she wasn’t anxious to marry than it took her…and I am so thankful that she didn’t change the course that God had her on just to make me happy.
So if you aren’t responsible to make your parents happy, and to make sure that they are never hurt, what is your responsibility?
As we all know, the Bible clearly tells us to honor our parents. Personally, I have really struggled with what that means. I am still asking God to show me, so this is a work in progress, as I am a work in progress.
Honoring my parents means, for me, that as a child, I am honest with them. I strive to be truly myself in my relationship with them, as I do with my closest friends. I honor them by being truthful about all my feelings, whether those feelings be anger or hurt or disappointment, just as I do with my husband and closest friends (the people I love the most). I do not slander my parents. I do not intentionally cause them harm with malice or bitterness.
I can honor my parents by setting healthy boundaries for both of us. Our youngest son has done a great job of this recently, as he has recently married. He has set some new boundaries for us, since he is leaving us and cleaving to his wife. Those boundaries have been truly honoring, because he is doing what is best for all of us.
I can also honor my parents by making my marriage and my closest friendships a priority in my life, because I am following God’s call for my life. Our children honor us when they make God’s call – in their own lives – their first priority. Even if we aren’t a primary part – or even a small part – of that call!
So, to conclude this not-at-all-exhaustive “guide” for gay children with Christian parents (God willing, we’ll keep learning and will add to this as we continue this journey together), remember this:
You do not have the power, by yourself, to ensure that you have a wonderful relationship with your parents.
They do not have the power, alternatively, to ensure that you will never be hurt by life, or that you will never encounter difficult situations as you wrestle with reconciling your faith with your sexuality and as you strive to listen to God’s voice above all others. They also do not have the power to keep you from having a flourishing, wonderful life full of God’s blessings.
Most importantly, you have the power to listen to God’s voice above all others.
I can remember Ryan singing…I can see him in my mind, crying out to God with these words:
All of You
is more than enough for
all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You
is more than enough.*
So, with or without your parents’ love and approval, I am praying tonight, and trusting, that God, your Heavenly Father, who loves you far more than you could ever begin to fathom, will be more than enough for you.
*Lyrics from “Enough” by Chris Tomlin
33 responses to “So I’ve Come Out to My Christian Parents…Now what?”
Absolutely beautiful, Linda. Beautiful. Bless you!
Linda, that’s the most amazing, authentic, humble, heartfelt advice I think I’ve ever read or heard. I cannot imagine what an answer to prayer you are for so many hurting parents and kids. Bless you, bless you, bless you……
Thanks for sharing Linda, once again very moved by your words. I am here if you need any assistance getting this message to a wider audience. Xander xo
Bless you, Xander!! I sure appreciate you!!
Ryan’s story (your story) is making a difference in peoples’ lives. Thank you so much for sharing with us. When the time is right, I will share this with my parents.
I will pray for that time, Bethany. Much love to you…
I truly believe that God has directed you to your calling. I wish someone had been there for me in the same way you are for so many others.
Sent from my iPad
Linda you have such a gift for writing and expressing the things in your heart. No wonder God is using you to touch so many of us with your talents! I have written before and joined your fb group. I want you to know that God has lead me to your story at just the right moment in my journey with my now 20 year old daughter. She is my firstborn so that has made things even more difficult when it comes to this whole letting go stuff. When you add the struggle of her being gay, coupled with some physical problems as well as her anxiety disorder and my being a parent who wants to please God, the church, and look good in the eyes of all those around me especially those who have kids who seem to be so successful by Christian and worldly standards, you get one fearful, disillusioned mom. I could write a book here on all the ways I relate to what you speak about in all of your blog entries and how God is teaching me through it. Let me try to sum it up in just a few paragraphs.
I am so grateful that I can be ok letting go of my dreams for what path my children (I have two other younger kids) take in their adult lives. What a weight has been lifted off my shoulders in recent weeks to let go of what I’ve held so tightly to. What a blessing to be able to learn what true unconditional love is. I love, love, love all of your advice on what we are and are not responsible for as it pertains to being parents and adult children. I was one of those parents who had kids in part to fill an unmet need in myself. All my childhood I dreamed of being a wife and mom. For many years I gave up a career to be a stay at home mom. Because of this I have been especially critical of “how my kids turn out”. I have blamed myself for mistakes they have made believing if I were a better mom they would not have made those choices. I thought I had to get it perfect and that the measure of my success as a full time mom was in them following a straight and narrow, cookie-cutter Christian path. I wanted them to play it safe. What God gave me in my firstborn, that I fought so much (yes out of fear) is a creative, deep thinking, adventurous, out of the box, strong willed child who is not interested in learning from my or my husbands mistakes but wants to be free to carve her own path. She has taught me that every child should be given the opportunity to figure out who they are in their own time and way. However, so many times, especially in Christian families, we see it time and time again where kids are not given the freedom to explore themselves they must follow the rigid, straight, safe path. We rob them of the free will God lovingly extends to us out of fear that they won’t figure it out for themselves or “get it right”.
As my daughter prepares to leave the nest a 2nd time after deciding not to go back to college but to pursue a relationship with her girlfriend who lives across the country in California, I hold tight to our heavenly father knowing He has her in the palm of His hand. I feel extremely blessed that because of your story and the wisdom I have gained from it I will be able to let her go both physically and from my grip (my dreams) to let her find herself (her dreams). Before your story I was still on that path to trying to fix her, pray the gay away, fearing she could never live at peace with God and be gay ect. Because of you I am given a second chance to let her know how deeply she is loved, just because she breathes. I will be sending her off with peace in my heart not disapproval of her or her choices, with respect for who she is not frustration over what she is not, and with a new perspective on God’s amazing grace, compassion and power to work in our hearts and lives beyond anything we can hope or imagine.
What pure joy it is to read your words, Lisa!!
So beautiful. Tucking this away in my folder to reread and to share with others. It helps to remind me that my children are “on loan” to me from Jesus.
This blog post is about gay children’s relationships with their Christian parents, but it could be any issue which threatens to drive a wedge between children and parents. The key is to listen carefully, love endlessly, and remember that God loves our children/parents more than we can ever imagine.
I never thought about mommy guilt being a part of this journey,but how right you are again. I am a Christian parent, surrounded by Christian parents, who all also happen to be or have been teachers of teenagers. We know our churches are wrong about this and we know that the bible is a product of its time. So I would ask my gay child just like my straight child: When are you going to meet a nice partner, get married and get me some grandkids?! Lol. Praying grace your way!
Linda, what is amazing is that you are talking about a paticular arena of conflict – coming out of the closet – but I see in your writing the answer to the whole concept of the relationship between parents and children – communication, acceptance and responsibility and the permission to follow what you have so adeptly written! Thank you as you are helping me in a different scenario all together… may I share your concepts?
Of course, Sunita…I am honored! If you ever have time to share more, please email me! Blessings to you!
I am a 64 year old male, married for forty one years, four children, three grandchildren. I also am a Christian who is conservative, evangelical, Bible believing and Christ centered. I have three heterosexual adult children and one homosexual adult child. My wife and I pray for our homosexual son daily. We still communicate with him but it is strained. His life partner does not like us very well as he has little or no Christian upbringing. My family’s relationship with our gay son is strained and often from a distance. We still talk but do not have very much communication. Life can be complex at times and lifestyles can be an issue. I am learning how to live with this burden. I just consider it a trial that God sustains me in.
Thank you to listening to my perspective, then, Larry, as a fellow parent of three straight kids and one gay child. God sure taught us that we needed to stop praying for Ryan’s soul and listen to how He wanted to change OURS. Praying with you…
my dear larry,
I must tell you as a 54 year old Christian man that likes men, my relationship with my parents , when they found out I liked men, wasn’t changed , nor strained, my parents were shocked to say the least, but did tell me they loved me no matter what, my father is still living at 84 yrs old, and we have a great love and appreciation for each other.
Its time for difficulties in communication to end, the only difference in your son then, before you knew, and now , is the fact that YOU know he likes men.
Even the bible talks concerning this matter, and every other sin , that all sin is forgivable, with the exception of one, which is blasphemy of the Holy Sprit.
My family and I don’t talk of my sexual preferences and nor should we, that’s a private matter , we do talk about all the usual everyday things. Larry I would encourage you and your entire family to not take on Burdens, for Christ has told us to bring them to him , and then leave them there.
Christ has had no problem communicating with me, nor I him, and so it is with my family, we all communicate because we love each other as we should. we don’t allow the devil himself get in the way, for if we had , we would have division in our family , which is not of God.
My encouragement to you , is for you to reach out to your son even further, either you go to him or he comes to you by himself. Then eliminate the communication problems, let him just be your son , and allow yourself to be his dad, without a label of being gay. for when we strip ourselves of all of societies labels, rules and regulations , we can see clearly again through Christ who strengthens us all, for even Christ stayed and hung out with the sinners not the saints, he would often admonish the saints for their holier-than-thou behavior. I am sure you know all of this.
I have read the bible from cover to cover about three times, and what I take away or have been taught is simply this,
Christ came to save us from our sins, we as Christians are to mimic his actions and attitudes, we accept people for who they are , we lead them to Christ through our relationship with Christ, we set the example. When they accept Christ as their savior , then its is Christ as well as the Holy Spirit who make the changes in that person, and we are not to judge, for if we do , we also will be judged and by the measure we have judged others.
So let Christ take your family to where he needs them to be , and I pray for you and your family , that Christ and our precious Holy Spirit will be first and foremost in your daily life.
sincerely, keith McDaniel,
email@example.com, just in case you ever wanna talk., we can and I will.
This could be for anything, for any conflict, for any healing between parents and their children. As I read your beautifully written advice, I wept. I wept for opportunities lost, but also for those still potentially ahead of me and my family.
I am sad that I had to go through so many growing pains before I realized even half of what you are saying. Part of staying quiet in the church, was the fact that I couldn’t bear the fact that someone would decide my son was doomed. How do you handle that kind of fear, in love. I see much better days ahead in my relationship with my son. As thankful as I am for my husband, I know he will walk slower on this journey. However, he gives me great love and strength.
I love knowing about Ryan, and thank you for sharing the song.
I’m looking forward to growing with the knowledge that I am not alone.
“Part of staying quiet in the church, was the fact that I couldn’t bear the fact that someone would decide my son was doomed.” OH MY GOSH. I SO get that!! TONS of love to you, Debbie…we stand together with Christ…NOT alone.
Thank you for this Linda! I have had an ongoing struggle with my parents, and after so many years, have started to mend our relationship. This article brings to light so many things I have thought about over the last several years, and reinforces my desire to work toward healing the relationship.
Praying for that reconciliation, Chip!
Not sure you have seen this video so I am sending it along. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qah3APc7kXg
It takes a lot of bravery to examine long-held beliefs. Fundagelical Christian culture teaches a bizarre, toxic, unrecognizable form of “love” that feels a lot more like control and abuse. FWIW, I’m glad you broke free of that mindset.
I see a lot of what you’re saying in my own friends’ lives as one by one they “come out” as non-believers to their Christian parents–in many ways what you write about for the parents of gay children also applies to the parents of apostates. It’s heartbreaking to see parents reject their children over dogma of any sort.
Agreed – HEARTBREAKING.
[…] just before I came out, I was especially encouraged by Linda Robertson at Just Because He Breathes (this post got read a lot) and by Amy at Unchained Faith, both of whom are wonderful allies and gave me a lot […]
What an opportune time to hear your message. I saw the Lord family’s message on Upworthy this morning which led me to your site. A dear friend;s 15 year old son came out to him the other day and while he dearly loves his son he is struggling with this issue. I am forwarding your message to him because I too believe that he should be loved just because he breathes Blessings to you both and your family.
I can’t thank you enough. Your experience speaks to me and the struggles of coming out to my parents but most importantly it has helped me understand the struggles my parents are facing with me not only being gay but actually having a partner too.
I am a 37yo gay man living with my partner Marshall and dog Earnest (yes I spell it like that) on the Jersey Shore about an hour out side of NYC. We live in a very gay, little beach town two blocks from the ocean. The North Jersey Coast Line stops a mile away for an easy trip into the city.
My life, you might have guessed, started out much different. I sprouted up like a weed on a large plot of land outside a small Kansas town not far from the middle of nowhere. I am the youngest of two and my sister has three beautiful daughters. She lives about 10 miles from my parents with her husband of almost 25 years. They were dating when I was in Jr. High. I would not say we were not raised in a church but very close to one and it was Baptist.
I would say my life took a turning point when I first realized I was different in a way that was not ok. I’m not sure how old I was when that happened but I’m guessing first or second grade. This was when lying became a way of life. It started out of self preservation and grew out of control when I just used my rage to justify doing whatever I wanted. I didn’t just lie to my parents I stole from them an tried to deceive them. I felt justified. I felt like they hated me. I hated me. Gay did not seem like an option but the older I got the harder it was to function. Anxiety became my constant companion. Nobody could figure out why I was getting shingles at 15.
In high school drinking was an escape later cocaine helped me drink more and feel less. I made three very serious attempts at my life and was taken to rehab by my parents. They even let me move back in with them after rehab. Through all of this I never told them I was gay and the struggle was far from over.
I stayed in contact with my family over the years going home from time to time, when I could afford to. I always called on birthdays and holidays. It was easy not talking about being gay because I lived a thousand miles away and was single or dated only briefly. My parents never asked me if I was seeing anyone.
My life took another turning point when I realized that I kind of like myself. I am even starting to love myself. You know what? I am happy and I live with my best friend, my love, my partner. Meeting Marshall opened my heart. He was the first person that made me feel safe and loved unconditionally. I feel a sense of security that has never existed in my life. I’m not afraid to be honest.
My parents love me. But they can’t be in the same room as both Marshall and I. I didn’t know what to do until I found your blog. You have given me some much need strength and humility to be proud of myself and honor my commitment to my partner while respecting my parents.
Travis, your story is BEAUTIFUL…and I love how God used Marshall to show you how much HE loves you…to be a Christ figure in your life. Bless you, my friend!
I am one of those countless people who emailed you. I was forced out of the closet on January 1, 2014 and my parents’ reaction hasn’t been that good, and I’ve been in a pretty serious depression ever since. However, finding your article, emailing you, and getting a wonderful and loving response in return has been one of my biggest sources of comfort. I want to thank you (again) so much for everything you do and continue to do.
Doug…Can’t tell you how much this means to me tonight, after just finding and reading a particularly hate-filled comment, echoing many of the things that I fight not to believe. Thank you, thank you, thank you, my friend.
Linda, thank you so much for your story and your willingness to admit your failures and learn and teach others from those failures. As a closeted gay college kid who loves God and his parents, this is a great post. I’m hoping to come out to them soon, but it is obviously very scary as they are hard core conservatives. My biggest question is #6: To leave my parents. Can you go into more detail here? I’d love to leave them after I tell them because I know that will be a very awkward time with them, but I don’t want to just run away from the problem either. As of now, I believe that I will live a life of celibacy, but would love it if God allows me to marry some day 🙂 but I guess I don’t know what you mean by leaving and how that would help my parents and me.
Hi, Eric! I sure will be praying for you as you seek God for your life and as you decide how and when to talk with your parents.
What I meant by “leaving” was not so much a physical separation, but an emotional and spiritual one. If you can recognize (possibly with the help of a therapist – Candice at The Christian Closet is FANTASTIC) that you, as an adult, have your own individual walk with God, and that you answer ONLY to Him, you will be at a much stronger place when you come out. Adult children are NOT responsible for keeping their parents happy or preventing them from distress. Of course, I would never advocate being mean intentionally, but being honest about yourself is NOT mean. It is just HONEST. And gives them the great honor and opportunity to know you more deeply, which is a huge display of trust and respect.
That said, there are times when it might be good to give conservatives parents some space after coming out, so that you don’t have to hear their initial responses (many parents, even ones who come around, say a lot of things they regret later at first). You have every right to protect yourself from those first reactions. Some people I known have made an appointment with their parents, asked them just to listen, and then given them copies of Justin Lee’s book, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christians Debate. They’ve then set a date to talk LATER, after their parents have had time to digest the news and to read Torn (Torn has changed the hearts and minds of more straight parents than I can count).
Those are just some quick thoughts…Oh, and one more…be SURE you have a strong network of support around you before you come out to them. You may need those friends and family who you know will love you no matter how your folks respond. You’ve got me now! 🙂