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He Said, She Said: Hesitation with ‘Coming Out’

‘Coming out’ isn’t always easy but it is a positive experience tied into a very personal and deep emotional process. One of the first steps in coming out is being able to recognize one’s own sexual identity and working toward self-acceptance.

Image Credit: iStockphoto

Image Credit: iStockphoto

The process of coming out happens in many diverse ways and occurs at different ages for a broad range of individuals. Being able to ‘come out’ is an extremely personal process and deals with understanding, accepting and valuing one’s own sexual identity and orientation. It includes the dynamics of exploring one’s emotional and mental state, being confident and content with sharing that part of yourself with others, as well as dealing with societal attitudes and responses towards those in the LGBT community. When one is able to take control of this process and come to understand who they are, it increases self-esteem, brings greater honesty and truth to your life and gives a greater sense of integrity. There is also relief and less stress when one stops denying and hiding such an important part of themselves with those that matter. Being able to come out freely can lead to a more positive approach to life and guide you to healthy and loving relationships.

NBA player Jason Collins came out this past April and wrote in Sports Illustrated why he decided to come out. After hearing about a straight friend marching in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade, though proud of his friend for taking part and marching for tolerance, acceptance and understanding, Collins grew angry and envious. As a closeted gay man, he felt shame in having to lie at the celebration of pride and wanted to do the right thing by not hiding who he was anymore. After the tragedy in Boston earlier this year, Collins realized he couldn’t wait for circumstances to be perfect and decided now was the time to declare himself. “Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?” he wrote in the May 6, 2013 issue.

Coming out to friends and family isn’t always easy though and not everyone has built up such confidence to reveal their true identities. One of the most difficult steps might be coming out to reveal yourself and likely feeling negativity and rejection. Though it is uncomfortable for both sides, this does not mean that they will never understand. Time usually helps, as does encouraging them to ask questions to help them understand.

This week we hear from Chad of Miami, Florida who is hoping to move in with his boyfriend but is waiting for him to tell his parents that he is gay. Chad is feeling pressure by the lack of communication and his boyfriend’s hesitation to ‘coming out’. Our writers help Chad with his dilemma.

He Said She Said - Chad May 29

Cathie says…

Hi Chad. This is a situation that many people may be facing, and not an easy one at that. It’s wonderful that your family is as supportive as they are. The love you have for your boyfriend shows, and I can understand your frustration. As the sister of a gay man, I relate to things on some level. What I do know from my experience is that this is a very personal thing. As with anything that is life changing, only you, individually, can know when the time is right for you to speak out, or make a choice. In my opinion, an ultimatum is not an expression of love. It comes across as a bit selfish, as you are trying to force him into something that he simply may not be ready for. It doesn’t matter how many people know. Perhaps on some level his parents may already be aware, however it’s still very personal to your partner and something he has to come to terms with himself. You are lucky to have a caring and supportive family. I don’t know if he doesn’t have the same kind of dynamic with his family, but something is keeping him from having that conversation. Be there for him as you have been. Communicate with him that you want to take further steps in your relationship, and maybe knowing that will help him be able to feel a confidence in coming out to his family. Pressure of any kind is likely to work against you both.  I wish you the best.

Matt says…

Chad, I’m experiencing a similar situation myself. My boyfriend and I have been dating for five months, and this is the first relationship I have been open with my parents about. Taking the step of coming out to them took me a long time, and I couldn’t have done it without my boyfriend. He asked me questions instead of telling me what I should do. He told me about his experience instead of giving me a deadline for a talk with my parents. His understanding brought us closer together. Use this obstacle in your boyfriend’s life as a way to strengthen the bond between the two of you.

Honestly, I think you have to be patient and let him determine the right time to tell his parents. A boyfriend’s role is to be loving and supportive, which is exactly what you’re doing. You don’t want to push him into a situation where he may feel uncomfortable. You and your boyfriend should talk to your parents about it together. Let him ask questions that may be preventing him from feeling confident enough to tell his own mom and dad. Is he afraid of being disowned by his family or something radical as a result of coming out? If that’s the case, pressuring him into coming out could be extremely detrimental to your relationship.

Make sure you keep the communication between the two of you open about this. He may not be aware of your frustration because as you said, your relationship has been pretty perfect. The desire to move the relationship forward is natural, and I’m sure he feels the same. He probably has frustration of his own. If you are as in love with him as you say you are I promise you he’s worth waiting for.

“Love is patient. Love is kind.” Remember that! Best of luck to you guys.

Karen says…

Chad, I pretty much agree with both Matt and Cathie on this one. It must be frustrating to stay in one place in your relationship. However, as Matt quoted, “love is patient.” When it comes to relationships, there is no true timeline for hitting those key milestones. Every couple goes at their own pace. However, if your boyfriend needs to come out to his parents first before you can move in together, that’s not only something that would affect your relationship, but could potentially impact his relationship with his parents and his personal growth. Your role as a boyfriend is not to pressure him into forcing that moment, but to listen to him, talk with him, and be there for him to help him through it when he feels that he’s ready. I think you can take Matt’s experience and let your boyfriend know what the process was like for you, and let him ask questions. Ultimately though, it is going to be up to him to decide when he can come out and all you can really do is be supportive of him through it all. This is a roadblock, but both of you will look back at it and realize that the wait was worth it. I wish you both the best!

Drew says…

Chad, I’m going to do my best not to repeat the advice that the others have already given; but to be honest, I think they have it right on this one. It’s going to be frustrating for you, and I guess it might even make you feel that your other half isn’t “all in” to the relationship; but you are going to need to be patient on this one.

When my Wife and I first moved in together, she hadn’t told her parents that we were dating; and yeah, I found it weird. But in the end I realized that it was more about what she needed than it was about me. I think that honesty is the best suggestion I can make. Tell him how you feel, and how his actions are affecting you. But be clear with him, that you’re supportive of his choices, and that you aren’t going anywhere. You’ve got to remember that moving in together is a big step, even if you were both out to your folks.

Hope it goes well.

If you seek advice from our writers, email us at thehudsuckerblog@gmail.com! Perhaps your question will be featured in our next installment.

While our team of writers have given their advice with the best of intentions, they nor anyone of this site assume responsibility for your actions or the results of them.

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