February 4, 2007 6:23 AM   Subscribe

My best friend/college roommate's dad just came out, and I have no idea what to do for her.

I've seen this thread, which is really about something else I think. A little background - she and I lived together for four-five years, and now I'm married and she's living at home while working on a graduate level degree. Her sister has completed professional training (she's younger) and is living out-of-state. Apparently there have been suspicions of this since she was about 12, but she's really done a great job of concealing it from herself and building a wall around the possibility. Now, he's 55 and he's come out and her parents are getting divorced. She's freaking out really hard core and none of us (her close friends, about three of us local) really know what to do or say. Anyone else been through this with a friend? Are there resources we could point her at? We're in the Atlanta area if that helps. (And just to be clear, none of us, including her, have a problem with him being gay, or with gay people - it's just extremely hard for her, as you would expect, to have her world and as she sees it, her family and her past, torn apart.)
posted by Medieval Maven to Human Relations (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Find her a PFLAG chapter in her area? It will be hard for you and her other friends, no matter how well-intentioned, to relate... she might benefit from talking to people who have gone through similar experiences.
posted by olinerd at 6:37 AM on February 4, 2007

PFLAG Atlanta, btw.
posted by olinerd at 6:38 AM on February 4, 2007

I just asked my wife-- her dad came out when she was a senior in college. She's of the opinion that this is just like any other personal crisis, and there's not much that you can do or say beyond how you'd respond to any generic friend's family problem. Your friend has to adjust to what the new reality is, and it's a very tough process but eventually the new reality becomes the old reality and it's not a big deal any more.

So my wife says it's part of the process to feel gutted, to feel angry at dad at first, and then when you start to feel guilty about being mad at someone for being gay, you're almost ready to be fine with it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:23 AM on February 4, 2007

I would think that you just listen, not give much advice, and let her have some time.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 9:47 AM on February 4, 2007

I would echo the advice that you just need to be a a great friend and listen etc.

In time, though, your friend may take some comfort and even pride that her father (and her mother) were finally able to reach this difficult acknowlegement of who he is as a she has noted to you, this revelation did not come out of the blue...there were signals or perceptions of it for many many years.

As hard as the shattering of her family must feel right now, going forward the foundations will be more rooted in honesty. You don't speak about your friend's mother, but she almost certainly knew a lot more than your friend for many more years, and perhaps she wasn't ready to move on until now either.

From the timing you mention, it seems like her parents may have come to a tacit agreement to stay together till your friend and sibling were grown up...maybe trying to understand the situation from her parent's point of view may help her somewhat.
posted by extrabox at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2007

There are a growing number of support groups for children of gays and lesbians. While the focus seems to be more on kids who have already dealt with the coming out process (or whose parents have always been out), I'm still guessing they'd be able to offer up support or ideas for you or her, or point y'all in the right direction.

COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) (a forum restricted to kids with gay parents, so I haven't read it, but it's mentioned by all the other sources I've seen on this topic)

Families Like Mine (website for Abigail Garner's book, which I highly recommend; my ex, whose mother is gay, found it immensely helpful and thought-provoking, and I just used it as my main source for a paper on kids of LGB parents)
posted by occhiblu at 11:22 AM on February 4, 2007

Also, if you're looking for more books and such, there are actually a lot that I found at the SF Public Library about gay parenting, and the issues with that, and coming out to kids, etc. I'd assume that some of the feminist/lesbian bookstores in Atlanta would carry some of these books, or other titles that might be appropriate.

(What was nice about the ones I looked at, and about the sites that I listed above, was that they do talk about how it can be hard as a kid even when you're not homophobic, because you're still dealing with a homophobic society, so you end up second-guessing all your reactions to things, or worrying about how being mad at your parent for being gay is somehow betraying your ethical stance, etc. Garner, especially, was really good at showing both sides of these sorts of issues, and detailing how many children of gay parents worked through them.)
posted by occhiblu at 11:27 AM on February 4, 2007

Thank you all for your answers. It's been a weird two or three days. They're not my parents, but their house was always a safe place for people to go - another of our friends basically lived there while her parents were getting divorced. Everyone always jokingly/lovingly referred to them as "Mommy & Daddy [LastName]." They've always been really good parents to her and her sister. I know that won't stop but right now that's hard for her to see; when things have calmed down a little we will be pointing her to these resources. Thanks again.
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:12 AM on February 5, 2007

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