How should a teenager deal with coming out to family?

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Answered by: Audrey, An Expert in the Coming Out Category
At any age, coming out to your family can be a difficult and intimidating process. Along with not being sure of the reaction you might receive, you may also feel anxious about how to discuss your sexuality with your parents and answer any questions they might have.

The first thing to consider is your safety -- you know your family best. Will your parents be hostile when you come out to them? Is there a possibility that they may ask you to leave the home? If you think this might happen, think carefully about what your options are: where will you go, do you have friends to stay with, will you be able to support yourself? There are resources out there for homeless GLBT teens, but you don't want to find yourself stranded and unprepared.Next, think about what you want to say, and why it's important to you to come out to your family. You may be tired of lying to your parents, you may want their support, or you may just be proud of what you have discovered about yourself and want to share that with your family. Each situation is unique, but coming out to family can be a very liberating process, and while it may be a difficult transition, many people find that they are able to have much more honest relationships with family members once they can live honestly. If you have siblings, either younger or older, you should expect that they might have questions as well.

Your reasons for wanting to come out to your family can be a good starting point for the conversation. Make sure that you choose the right time; you want to be sure that everyone is focused on what you have to say, and that there will be no other distractions. Sit down with your parents and tell them that you have something important to tell them.Be prepared for them to ask a lot of questions -- and in some cases, they may ask you if you're sure about your sexuality, or insist that you're too young to make this kind of decision. Listen to what they have to say, but be firm. Tell them that you have accepted yourself -- or, if you are struggling with your sexual orientation or confused about your feelings, ask them for support.

Remember, coming out to family may take several conversations; your parents will need time to think about what you have told them and to figure out their own reactions. They may feel angry, sad or disappointed at first, but their reactions are their own. You are still a valuable, unique individual, and it takes courage to come out as a teenager.

Before you start this process, you may want to turn to friends and counselors for support, so that others are aware of what you are going through. The Trevor Hotline is a great resource for teens, and can give you additional information about your rights and how best to reach out to your parents.

Above all, remember that your sexual orientation is just one piece of your identity; your worth as a person is about so much more, and living proudly will help you to realize all of the possibilities still lying ahead for you.

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