I’m a college student and I came out to my parents three years ago. They already “knew,” but they didn’t start dealing with it until I actually said “I’m a big ol’ protesting, processing, vegetarian, co-habitating, granola-dyke lesbian.”
At first they didn’t take it well and went through various stages of grief and self blame, but they have started to come around and now they can even act like normal human beings when we go out to dinner with my girlfriend.
One of the reasons I wanted to come out to my parents is because I knew my younger sister, still in high school, is gay too. My sister and her girlfriend of three years are inseparable, so even though she hasn’t come out to my parents, they also “know” about her. I don’t think my parents will start working out their feelings on my younger sister until she actually comes out to them.
But wait, there’s more. I found out a few months ago that my other sister — the youngest — is bisexual. Having no idea that the youngest was bi, my other sister and I had shoved off our parents’ dream for a big white het wedding onto her.
I’m sure my parents must think something is going on. At the same time they’re probably trying their darndest not to see it. My parents are just now working out their problems with my sexuality! They are going to flip it when they find out all of their daughters are gay! How can I make this easier for my parents while still being a supportive older sister?
How parents react when a second (or third or fourth) child comes out is not always predicable. It could be easier for the second child because the parents have already gone through it before, and they know that the world doesn’t end when a child comes out.
On the other hand, a second coming out can also be more difficult for parents to deal with. The parents wonder if it really is something they caused. One gay child is random, but two or more is a trend. They might face more raised eyebrows or ignorant assumptions from people who think the parents are somehow “making” their children gay.
No one in your family can be sure of what other people know or what they are thinking until you all talk about it. Are your sisters hesitant to come out to your parents? Or since it seems that your parents already “know” do your sisters figure they it would be stating the obvious.
Families with LGBT family members must have opportunities to talk about it, or the family will face bigger conflicts down the road — with everyone saying things like, “this hasn’t been an issue until now” or “there wasn’t ever a good time to bring it up.” (The next Q & A is facing this very dilemma.) You can be a supportive older sister by talking to them about coming out to your parents and listening to their concerns.
There has to be an official coming out from both of your sisters. Without that, your parents wait in limbo — unsure if their daughters even want them to know. They need permission to talk about it with each other and with other people who they turn to for support.
Encourage your parents to contact their local PFLAG chapter. They could even ask if there are members in similar situations that they can talk to.
As for your parents’ shattered dreams about a het wedding, they just gotta get over it, like many parents do. Children’s lives are not their parents’ lives. Parents’ dreams are not their children’s dreams.
Besides, having a heterosexual daughter does not guarantee a wedding ceremony in the future. Nor does having a gay daughter eliminate that possibility.