Q&A: Was it hard to come out and who was the first person you told?

Coming Out

Lesbian Q&A: Does having dated guys make me less of a lesbian?

Many of our readers have reached out with great questions about relationships, sexuality, coming out, and dealing with adulthood. With their permission, we thought it would be helpful to share some of these questions and answers with others out there who might be in similar situations or pondering the same questions.

As always, we're so grateful to have the support of readers from around the world. If you have a question, you can ask us anything here.

Question from a reader:

Was it hard to come out and who was the first person you told? My mom thinks that I’m too young to be a lesbian, but I want to find a way to slowly come out to her. - Fallen Angel

Dear Fallen Angel,

We can definitely understand what it’s like being your age and having to navigate coming out to your family. 

Coming out was definitely one of the hardest things I’d ever done in my life. While I knew I was a lesbian when I was around 8 years old, I didn’t come out to anyone until over a decade later. 

It always felt like I was carrying a weight on my shoulders before I was able to finally live my life openly. 

For me, my mom was actually one of the last people I came out to and the one I was the most nervous about. It felt so much easier to come out to my friends and even my aunt first before coming out to my mom a year later.

With that said, here’s some advice that I would offer for your situation:

1. Be patient. Coming out and acceptance are two different things that occur on their own timelines.

There were probably a lot of signs that hinted at me being gay when I was younger, but my mom chose to explain them away or ignore them. However, in retrospect, I actually preferred it that way -- forcing my mom to accept that I was gay too soon wouldn’t have been a recipe for success, especially when I was still dependent on her.

Even after I officially came out to my mom as an adult, she definitely didn’t accept it right away. It took many years for her to reach full acceptance of me and Chia. She needed time to let the truth sink in and also to see how happy I was in a relationship with another woman to finally understand that this wasn’t a phase. Ultimately, I also never wanted to rush her as long as I was able to live my life the way I wanted.

Coming out can definitely be challenging because you can’t control how others will react, and this can be especially painful when the people you love and care about the most don’t accept you right away.

Both Chia and I had a difficult time coming out to our parents (and Chia had to come out twice (once in college and once after graduation) but we’re glad we were patient and gave our parents the time and space to accept us because now they’re fully supportive of our relationship.

2. When you’re young, focus on setting yourself up for a bright future and the rest will follow.

Everyone’s situation is different and, because I knew my mom was more traditional and less likely to accept my sexuality right away, I decided that I wouldn’t officially come out to my mom until I was in college (even though I was dating girls before then). This was a practical decision based on my circumstances as I’m sure that if I told my mom I was a lesbian at around 11 or 12, she also would have said I was too young and may have even scrutinized all of my relationships with my female friends at the time.

It would have put a strain on our relationship for the many years that I still had to live with her and depend on her. Of course, this isn’t true for everyone -- Chia and I have friends that had no problem coming out to their parents, even at a young age.

That said, regardless of your situation, while you can’t always predict or control anyone else’s reaction, the one thing you can control is how you handle yourself and position yourself for the best future.

Both Chia and I aimed to get a good education and ultimately become financially independent so that we could live on our own as soon as possible and live according to our own terms. That way, even though both of our parents initially had negative reactions to our relationship, we were already independent and it was only a matter of giving them time to accept us (which they eventually did wholeheartedly). 😊

- Poppy & Chia

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