Spring break, for most students, is an enjoyable way to get away from campus and relax with their family and friends from home. However, for some students, going home is not always pleasant. Some LGBT students have to deal with hatred (homophobia, transphobia, etc) from the people that are supposed to love them unconditionally. We at PRISM know how hard this can be and we wanted to link you to some tips and resources for dealing with homophobic parents and family members.
–This article gives some tips for if you do decide to come out and you’re worried your family is going to react negatively.
- First and foremost, think through your decision. If your parents are homophobic, wait to come out until you are sure of your decision. The process can be nasty, and they may say things (“We won’t have a child who isn’t straight; you’re going to hell” or “You’re a girl and you can’t change that”) that may be really upsetting. There’s also financial pressures to think about too. Once you’ve weighed your options, you may decide to come out or may decide to wait… whatever you think is best for your life is the right decision.
- If you decide to come out, remember that you coming out is huge news to your parents. They’ve pictured your life a certain way, and when that picture shifts, it’s scary. Try and reassure them that you’re still their child and that will never change. And don’t attack their religion (even if it’s the basis for their homophobia/transphobia); it’ll only make them more defensive.
- At the same time, be firm with them. If you aren’t, they might think you will “change” as you get older. That’s not the image you want to give them… it makes the process of acceptance much longer.
- After a while, let the conversation go. It’ll give your family time to process the change.
- If they do give an ultimatum (aka if they’re threatening to kick you out, stop supporting you, etc), know how you’re going to respond. That’s a question only you can answer, but it never hurts to be prepared for that kind of situation.
Here’s some more tips from lovetoknow about homophobia after you come out.
- Be realistic and realize that homophobia will not disappear overnight, or in one conversation.
- Remain hopeful that the homophobic attitude will change after your relative has had time to get used to the out-of-the-closet you. Some family members really aren’t homophobic deep down, they just don’t know what to say or how to say it, and comments may come out awkwardly.
- Stand up for yourself and be honest. If someone says something offensive, correct him politely with a joke.
- Join an online group that supports gay rights and offers friendly support and advice for people who are dealing with homophobic families. Some examples include GLAAD (Gay and Lesbians Alliance Against Defamation) and The Trevor Project.
- Check out a support website with your family such as PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) for information and ways to understand each other.
- Seek counseling to deal with the pain associated with not receiving unconditional love from your family. (On campus, go to the Talley Center, they’re great).
- Ask extended relatives if you can stay with them if you get kicked out of your own home.
- Report any type of physical abuse to local law enforcement authorities.
Do you have any tips we should add? We’re asking at the meeting tonight at 9pm, but if you can’t make it, feel free to write it in the comments.