What Was Coming Out Like? Students & Their Parents Share

These families’ stories made us happy-cry.

We recently started working with the Get REAL Movement, to support them in their mission to energize LGBTQ+ students and their allies in voicing their stories at schools across Canada.

True, not everybody’s coming out story is as positive as the ones captured, but we hope one day they will be. Your family are the people you should feel completely safe being yourself around, right?

Here’s what that can look like.

My Dad Was So Relieved

“Without hesitation he said, ‘Well thank GOD.'”

Marie Wright: I texted my dad one day and told him I needed to tell him something important when he got home from work. He knocked on my bedroom door later that night and asked what was up. I immediately started sobbing. He said, “What happened? Are you pregnant?”

“No dad, it’s almost the opposite.”

“Did you have an abortion?”

I choked a bit from both laughing and crying at the same time. I took a deep breath and said, “Dad I’m gay.”

Without hesitation he said, “Well thank GOD.” I’ve only seen my dad cry three times in my life up to that point. The first was when my mom passed away when I was 14, the second was when he dropped me off at university for the first time, and the third was that moment as he held me and told me he wished Mom was there to hold me too.

Accepting My Sister Took Some Time

It was then that I realized how ridiculous “coming out” was.

Meaghan Wright: After my twin sister came out as a lesbian I was extremely homophobic. How could someone so similar to me be so different?

Ironically enough, I ended up dating one of my best friends who was a girl…

Ironically enough, I ended up dating one of my best friends who was a girl and had to come out to both my dad and sister. Without feeling the need to identify and lock myself into a label, it was terrifying to explain the situation to my family and friends.

Before completing the first sentence to my dad, he immediately interrupted me and said “Meaghan, we know sweetheart”. It was then that I realized how ridiculous “coming out” was. I’m a firm believer in the fact that people fall in love with people, and who gives a sh*t about the rest?

Doug Wright (Marie’s Dad): Try to be open minded. Dont assume your beliefs are always accurate.

We Felt Helpless, At First

He has become an advocate and voice for those in his community.

Max Denley: It’s a pretty helpless feeling to know that regardless of the reaction you are met with, you cannot change who you are. I was afraid at first, but I knew deep down that my parents would always be there for me.

Heather Denley (Max’s Mom): The difficult part was not knowing what to do to help him or where to turn for assistance.

It was important for Max to know that I never stopped loving him.

It was important for Max to know that I never stopped loving him and would support him in any way I could. Not only has he grown into an amazing young man, he has become an advocate and voice for those in his community.

Rick Denley (Max’s Dad): Seeing Max happy, and giving back to help others, has been tremendously rewarding. My advice to other parents going through this is don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help in understanding the process, and just to talk to others that have been through it for possible assistance.

I Texted My Parents About It

It’s honestly a non-issue in my life.

Marley Bowen: I told my Mom over a text message about 5 years ago. My family was extremely supportive from day 1 so I honestly don’t really remember a whole lot from that day. I believe we talked about it over the phone a few times then before they knew it I was bringing girls home to meet the family.

If they are gay and they realize that and the people around them support them then it leads to happiness.

Jim Bowen (Marley’s Dad): It honestly wasn’t difficult. As a parent you just want your kid to be happy in their relationships and with their lives. If they are gay and they realize that and the people around them support them then it leads to happiness. And that makes parents happy!

My Parents Were Just Worried About Me

There were so many things they didn’t know about being gay.

Justin Gerhard: Coming out was a scary experience, and yet once it was happening, seeing the way my parents responded, the fear quickly disappeared. They certainly weren’t expecting it, so naturally, the surprise threw them off a little bit.

Our answer was simply we would continue to love him or her.

There were so many things they didn’t know about being gay, and some of the stereotypes about being gay scared them, or rather made them a little worried for my safety, or that somehow my life was going to be more challenging.

Don Friesen (Justin’s Dad): As our 3 children grew to be teenagers my wife, Louella, and I entertained the idea or possibility of having a gay child. What would we do if one of our children would be gay? Our answer was simply we would continue to love him or her.

My (Religious) Mom Just Wanted Me To Feel Comfortable 

I see my daughter as a very smart, beautiful and delightful person to be around and I pray that others will see her the same way.

Sapphire Woods: I had built up what the conversation would be like for so long, playing in my head the range of reactions she might experience (I was raised in a conservative Christian environment my entire life). Talking to my mom was the scariest but she was like “okay” and was just as worried as normal about my safety and the quality of life I would have as a SUPER marginalized individual (black, cis-female, LESBIAN).

Sharon Woods (Sapphire’s Mom): At that time I already thought she was a lesbian however, I wanted her to feel comfortable and safe to talking to me about her feelings. I wanted her to know that no matter what I am there for her and would always love her.

Like many parents I am concerned for all my children’s safety including hers’. So, when she is going on dates my motherly antennas goes up. I always tell her “safety first.” I see my daughter as a very smart, beautiful and delightful person to be around and I pray that others will see her the same way.

My Mom’s Been Out For Years

I also knew what a lesbian was because when I was 8 years old, my mom came out to me as one.

Stacey Lambert: I realized I liked girls when I was pretty young. I also knew what a lesbian was because when I was 8 years old, my mom came out to me as one. She got married to another woman and we all lived as a happy family; but even having two moms and knowing they would accept me, I never acted on my feelings for girls.

R-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-O-N was the name of the game for years and years until I was finally able to admit it to myself and make it known to the world that my mom and I had this important thing in common. 

I knew I didn’t need to be worried, my family is amazing, but I was terrified anyway. I didn’t need to be.

It’s an interesting thing, having a parent come out to you and coming out to them in turn. Both my mom and I, during our own struggles, weren’t too worried about our family reacting badly, it was more about what the world would think of us and how our lives would change. I’m proud of her for being her authentic self and proud of myself for finally following her example and being my own as well.

Paula Lambert (Stacey’s Mom): I came out to my family 17 years ago, before same sex marriage was legal, before things were as open as they are now. I knew I didn’t need to be worried, my family is amazing, but I was terrified anyway. I didn’t need to be. They were all very supportive.

My Mom Was Always By My Side

Let your child guide you, they have probably known they are transgender a lot longer than you have!

Jonas Stark: Scariest thing I’ve ever done, but totally worth it in the long run. Having an immediate family that supports me through anything is the best thing anyone could ask for.

Honoure Stark (Jonas’ Mom): It was the best experience for my family. It brought us all together and connected on a deeper level, loyalty and love is a beautiful necessity in our family.

Trust in and let your child guide you, they have probably known they are transgender a lot longer than you have!

Trust in and let your child guide you, they have probably known they are transgender a lot longer than you have! Seek out support for your family by looking up your local PFLAG meeting, they have an abundance of wonderful resources or reach out to another mom/dad who have some experience with this! I will always pay it forward, so many wonderful parents helped me in the beginning.

Follow Get REAL on Instagram or check out their website at www.thegetrealmovement.ca. Want to get involved? Even better. Email this address.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.
Dana Iskoldski

Dana Iskoldski

Dana Iskoldski is the Editor-At-Large at Student Life Network and CampusRankings.