After Coming Out

Dealing With Family Rejection

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Coming out can be a risk and isn't always a pleasant experience, especially if you've been rejected by your family or friends. How you deal with this situation can make all the difference between becoming a statistic or leading a healthy same-gender loving lifestyle.

These next common questions and answers can help deal with the potential aftermath of coming out.

Q:
My family hates gays. Won't they reject me if I come out?


A:
Not everyone is comfortable with same-gender loving people in any form (being gay or bisexual), which makes coming out to others a risky choice.

To most, the rewards far outweigh the backlash from a not-so-comfortable family member. But first, you must get to that stage of self-acceptance (see coming out step-by-step).

Many of us tend to assume that an openly homophobic family includes everyone. Often times, we don't give all of our family members an equal change at communicating their comfort level. We either shut them all out or let them all in depending on the response of those in which we look for the most acceptance (usually our mothers, fathers or primary caretaker).

Some family and friends will accept you for who you are. They may not vocalize it right away, but they will once they've had time to process your revelation. This may be a cousin, sibling, uncle, aunt or several aunts. If you choose to confide in one, confide in them all. Don't let the rumor mill do the job for you. You'll inevitably lose some loved ones in the battle, but continuing a relationship with those that love you unconditionally is a beautiful experience.



Q:
But how do I deal with the pain of rejection?


A:
It can be devastating when someone you love (and thought loved you) rejects you because of your sexuality. This is one of the main reasons why the gay teen suicide rate is more than 30 percent of all teen suicides. Don't become a statistic! People reject others based on their own fear or comfort level.

These feelings are their issues, not yours.

Most gay men experience some emotional pain after coming out. Know that there is a loving support network out there for you. It may be the previously mentioned gay-affirmative family member or friend or a newly formed family of other gay people. Surround yourself with these accepting and positive people. Talk through your pain even if it is difficult. Confiding in others with similar experiences can be very helpful; and releasing your old coming out wounds will greatly help move on to a healthy and fulfilled gay lifestyle. This takes time and a lot of forgiveness of yourself and others, but the liberation is well worth it. Find a support network and some one who can help you through this tough period of your life. Ultimately, only time and some work will heal your wounds. Let the pain out, so you can move on.

Q:
There are no gay centers near me and I have no gay friends. Who can I talk to?


A:
Many gay or questioning men feel lonely and afraid after they come out. When I came out, I remember feeling like I was the only inhabitant of a remote island with no chance of escape- longing for someone to help me and understand my pain. Don't wait to be rescued, there is help only a phone call or url or chat away.

Many glbtq people (both questioning and out) turn to gay community centers for support programs with professionals available to help you. The atmosphere is open, confidential and friendly. Most gay centers also have a safe and anonymous crisis help line. If there is no center near you, call their help line for assistance.

Some gay men also turn to discussion forums on the net, creating an online family. Be weary of negative comments and advice. Turn your back on any negativity or judgements against you- you've had enough of that. Also, be cautious when meeting others online (read online safety tips). Your safety should always be your top priority.

Some gay men also get professional help to guide them through the aftermath of coming out. Find a gay-affirmative therapist to help you heal your pain.

Seeing a therapist doesn't mean you're crazy or mentally ill. The right professional can greatly accelerate your healing process, helping you develop a new prospective on life and ultimately a new beginning. continued...

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Q:
What if my parents kick me out of the house?


A:
There are thousands of gay teens living on the streets. Some ran away and others were forced to leave. If you find yourself homeless with no where to go, seek help immediately. Keep a gay community center help line number with you at all times. Explain your situation and wait for a referral. Not all places have resources for gay homeless youth, but there are organizations like the Ruth Ellis Center that can help. Choose an option that is safer than the streets.

Q:
Now that I'm out, what do I do next?


A:
A painful coming out experience may seem like a regrettable move at first; but, if dealt with correctly, the emotional roller coaster eventually becomes a cleansing process. Steer clear of substances, such as drugs or alcohol. They only numb the pain temporarily- leaving you with the same pain, perhaps a worse situation and a bad habit (learn how to recognize an alcohol or drug addiction).

There is a healthy and fulfilling future waiting for you. Once you find a safe environment and positive support system, start to develop your new life goals. You have a choice in what kind of person you want to be and who you want to become. Many gay men go on to have families, including stable relationships and children. Being gay or bisexual does not define who you are, it is merely a part of you. Others may see this as a deficiency on your part, but again, that's their issue. Your sexual and emotional feelings are normal and you are not alone. Now create a new life, defined by you!