How can I best support a family member coming out?
October 17, 2013 10:42 PM Subscribe
My wonderful nephew is thinking about coming out, but the rest of the family is very religious & conservative. How can I help? Avalanche inside.
posted by aviatrix to human relations (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Background: I grew up in a conservative Catholic family in the Midwest, the only girl with 4 brothers. My oldest brother married young, and he and his wife had their first baby while I was still in high school. I have always had a very close relationship with my nephew, T. We’ve just always clicked and stayed close though our lives.
Now I’m a mid-30’s, married, mom of 2 little girls, and we live in LA. T has grown up to be an awesome young man. He is 19 and attends a state university in the Midwest. We text almost daily and talk on the phone once or twice a week. His parents, as well as my parents, and most of my brothers and their families are still very conservative Catholics. I am very liberal- the token Democrat in the family, get lots of good-natured ribbing about politics, etc. I am also the only one of our siblings that does not practice the faith of our childhood in a serious and regular way.
One week ago T called me and I could tell he was very nervous. He finally said he had to tell me something. He blurted out “I’m going to tell you something and you probably won’t be surprised. I’m gay.” I was not surprised. We had a great conversation and I told him how much I love him and support him. I told him I was so happy that he was able to share this with me, it changed nothing in our relationship, etc. Very positive. He told me his friends at college are supportive, he has a boyfriend, he is in love…it was just a really emotional conversation and we were both crying – I think him from stress relief and me from how *happy* he sounded. I just love him, the same way I love my daughters.
He then told me that he is unsure about when/if to tell his parents. He wants to, but is very afraid. He said he is afraid they will cut him off financially if he tells them. This is what he focused on. I think he may be focused on the financial aspect because the idea of being rejected in any other way is too unbearable (just my take, he did not say this). I told him I do not think my brother and sister-in-law will reject him. They love him. They may be concerned, they may be shocked. I also told him that *if* he is cut off in any way, I am totally willing and able to cover his college expenses through graduation. He is still unsure about telling anyone else, and is going to think about it. He and his boyfriend want to come out this spring and stay w/ me and my family, which I would love.
My question(s): How do I support him through this? What are the things I (and my husband, who also loves him) can do? Is it OK to host him and his boyfriend, even if it means lying to the rest of family? What does he need from me right now? Please give me any thoughts and advice. He has always been so special to me, and I just want him to feel and know that, even from far away.