Coming Out To My Family

Spring 1989. I was finally coming out at age 22. Up until then I hadn't dated, and suddenly I missed it. So I had to come out.

At this point I'd been living away from home for about five years, due to college. So I told my close friends first. I knew I was going to have to tell my family. They'd made noises about "when you have kids", and I was getting a little miffed by the assumption that I'd get married and have kids. But mostly, I just wanted to be able to share this with them. Coming out was one of the best things I'd ever done, and I wanted them to know who I was.

The hard part was figuring out how to do it. I really didn't want to tell my family individually. The best time I could figure was after Easter dinner. It is customary for the family to sit around the dining room table after the big meal, catching up and just being social. Most of the nearby relatives had moved away, so there wouldn't be many people besides my immediate family (father, mother, brother, sister-in-law).

Well, dinner came and went. It was just my immediate family, so it was pretty relaxed. We sat around for a while talking after dinner. My stomach was a bit tight from apprehension. How would my folks react? I thought they'd be surprised, and not enthusiastic, but okay. That didn't stop the nervousness.

Just as I was getting ready to make my announcement, my brother said

"Mom, Dad, I want you to consider the idea of me and Ann converting the basement into an apartment. We could live there and save up toward buying a house. We'd do all the work."

Normally, my Dad would have just shot that one down. There were boxes of stuff that had been in the basement since I was a kid twenty years ago. It would have taken a lot of work, and Mom and Dad would have to be involved. But he didn't shoot it down. He replied "Let us think about it". My thought was "Whoa, Dad's in a good [accepting] mood!".

So I got ready again to drop my bombshell. Just as it was about to go, my Dad said that he had an announcement too! He announced that in a bit over a year he was going to retire. That went over pretty well - after all, what could we say, "No, don't do it!"?

It's quiet again, but I'm a little spooked now. I shoot a look over at Mom - what's she going to say? - but she's not making any big pronouncement. The time is ripe.

"Mom, Dad, Marty, Ann - I'm gay."

Reactions were mixed. Marty and Ann just sat there saying nothing, looking faintly surprised. My Mom looked like she was considering it. My father put an elbow on the table and covered his face in his hand.

We talked about it for a little bit. My parents asked if I knew about AIDS (yes, I do; thank you for the concern.), and then we pretty much let the matter drop. Since then we've talked about it a little, and they're okay, but it's not a big topic of conversation.

All in all, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't do it that way. At the time I was more concerned with making a statement about who I was than about how my family might feel about it. I've been [coming] out for seven and a half years now, and things change over time.

I'm just lucky to have an accepting family.

Last updated 3 June 2000
All other contents ©1998-2002 Mark L. Irons.