Coming Out — Is It Getting Easier?

Coming Out—

Is It Getting Easier?

By Gina Zucker

A poll has found that coming out to your parents may not be so nerve-racking anymore. Experts and people who've sprung the news explain why.

he popularity of Ellen DeGeneres and the Fab Five on Queer Eye might make people think that it's easy being out. But has this gay-and-proud-of-it attitude rubbed off on the real world? To help answer that question, we polled more than 100 gay and lesbian
“I had to put the truth out there. I wasn't going to live with lies.”
members. The question? Whether it matters how two influential people in their lives—their parents—feel about their sexual orientation. While 20 percent of respondents felt strongly that their parents' opinion matters, 28 percent care only a little, and 39 percent said they don't care a whit about mom's and dad's reaction.

For some—like Lindsay Valentin, 21—coming out was important because “otherwise I would have never been able to bring a partner home, plus I didn't want to have to tip-toe around the subject of relationships,” she explains. “I had to put the truth out there. I wasn't going to live with lies.”

And for those who do worry about what their parents may think, having a solid support system in place can make having the talk much easier. Says 30-year-old New Yorker David Grant, “I told my parents I was gay two years ago. While I was glad they took it well, had they not been okay with it, I had plenty of people to lean on."

As for those who do care about their parents' opinion—or are stressing over how to break the ice—phrase the news in positive terms. A suggestion from Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D, a psychotherapist and author of Gay Relationships: How to Find Them, How to Improve Them, How to Make Them Last: “Begin with, 'I've been keeping this secret, but because I love you, I want to talk about it so we can be closer,' and take it from there.”

Gina Zucker is a creative writing professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She's written for many magazines, including GQ and Cosmopolitan.
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