How to Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay

You have recently realized that you're on the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) spectrum, and you aren't sure whether or not to tell your parents, who probably would disapprove of this aspect of yourself. Figuring out your sexual orientation can be a confusing, scary, and difficult time, and it is made more so when your parents are very strict religious observers. It can be hard to overcome their emotional response to your news. It won't be an easy thing to do, but it will release stress and in today's society they will be sure to support you, even if they are doubtful at first. Here are some tips to help you maintain your identity with dignity while accepting respectfully your parents' religious views.


  1. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 1
    Be careful. This step cannot be emphasized enough. Think of a realistic range of possible reactions, and determine which one you think is the most likely to happen. Don't tell your parents if you're sure that they'll disown you, especially if you won't have anywhere else to go.
    • This could be different if you have a place to stay or have money to support yourself for some time.
  2. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 2
    Think of which parent to tell first. If you get along better with your mom, then tell her, for example. Simply tell your parent that you want to talk about something important with them in private at some point.
  3. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 3
    Arrange a time to talk without distractions. You will do best to make time to speak with your parents privately - this is a sensitive issue, and not something you should do at Christmas dinner, for example, in front of the whole family. Your parents need a chance to take in the news, react, respond, etc., without an audience.
  4. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 4
    Before you tell them, calm down. This can be as simple as taking a deep breath or saying a prayer. Either way, collect your thoughts and have resources with you if things get heated.
  5. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 5
    Tell them. Beating around the bush will simply scare them. Just say 'Mom, I love you, and I wanted to let you know that I'm bisexual' or 'Dad, I'm a lesbian.' Your part of the conversation is over with, so now you have to watch their reaction.
  6. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 6
    See how they react. This could range from total acceptance to being kicked out, but it's usually somewhere in the middle. If they're generally accepting, then the problem's solved. If they aren't, don't be afraid to leave, but only do so if you must.
  7. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 7
    Brace yourself for outbursts. You know they are devout in their religious beliefs. Don't contradict them as this might make them angrier but if they are very conservative in their beliefs then the chances of them just accepting this is slim. So go in knowing that there will probably be some emotions to deal with. Being prepared for this can help you remain calm in the face of their emotional response.
  8. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 8
    Remember that, for them, this is Day One of the mission. You have had many months, perhaps even years, to recognize, process, and deal with your sexual orientation. You've had epiphanies, made discoveries, adjusted your self-image, reconciled your life with your faith, and come to terms with your own response to the understanding that you are gay. Your parents may need that much time - plus more, because they are so devout. Not that you weren't. But you are on the other side of this fence - your parents will have a hard time understanding, much less tolerating and finally accepting your news. Don't expect all to be peachy today.
  9. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 9
    Be prepared for them to point out chapter and verse. Just standing there and saying, "I don't care about that," or "I know," will not be sufficient. They're going to disagree on the basis of religion, so you will need to respond on that same basis. Do some research, know what they're going to throw at you so that you won't be caught flat-footed. The last thing you need is to give the impression that this is some impulsive thing you're doing - you need to make them see that you've given it serious thought, and given weight to the religious objections.
  10. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 10
    Don't waver, but be kind. Your mom and dad could try to shake you up, freak you out, or otherwise shock you into renouncing who you are. They feel shook up and freaked out and shocked, so they're projecting that onto you. Your best bet now is to simply stand firmly for yourself. Rather than simply contradicting them or allowing things to turn into a shouting match, if you can stay calm in the storm, you'll help calm them down. "Mom, Dad, I know you're upset. I was so confused for so long. But now, I know who I am. I've considered every single thing you're saying - believe me, I thought about all those things long and hard, and none of that made me straight." Just stand firm and acknowledge their concerns. Make sure they understand that you are an adult, fully aware of who you are and what you are doing.
  11. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 11
    Leave if things get too hot, and return another time. If you feel things are in a downward spiral, rather than allowing the discussion to turn into a hand-wringing, hysterical, screeching mess, just say, "Folks, I can see we're not going to come to an accord tonight, and that's okay. I didn't accept this truth of myself overnight, either. I think it would be best to just leave this here for now, and I'll come back tomorrow night, or maybe just later tonight - up to you guys. I love you both, but I'm going to let you guys have some time to process this, and we'll connect again in a little bit."
  12. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 12
    Negotiate. Once your parents have come to terms with your sexual orientation, talk to them about what they will and won't approve of. This will let you keep your home, and your parents could possibly grant you independence in regards to your relationships.
  13. Image titled Come Out to Strict Religious Parents When You're Gay Step 13
    Be prepared to walk away, at least for awhile. Some parents will accept the news better than others. If yours are in the latter camp, and have an extreme reaction to your news, you may need to decamp for a while - that is, take a break from them for awhile. As painful as this is in the short run, in the long run, it can work out very well. Obviously, there is always the risk that you will never be able to go back - there are the very few who will never accept or adjust, and there is always the chance that one of you will not live to see the day when acceptance and reconciliation are possible. In the end, however, your life is up to you. You may try to live it in a way that appeases others, but it rarely will, and it will never satisfy you. Many children of devoutly religious parents have had to walk away from those parents, though they dearly love them and it hurts like hell. But the majority find that, with time, those parents come around, and find a way to reconcile their faith with the fact that their child is gay. Pray for that day, and allow your parents the time they need to come to it. Meanwhile, you must be true to yourself, and remember that this is your one and only life, it is yours alone, and you have responsibility to rise up and live it.


  • Be careful at school and/or work with disclosing your sexual orientation. Being outed can be much more painful than coming out on your own terms.
  • Talk it over with a trusted friend, if you think it will help.
  • If you can keep it a tight proof secret, don't be afraid to talk about this with a potential lover. But make sure that both of you will be safe while doing so.
  • Err on the side of compassion. Even if your parents can accept or tolerate the fact that you are gay, they may never be comfortable with seeing you engage in public displays of affection for your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner. Be discreet and compassionate - you don't have to pretend that this is "just a friend," but you also don't need to sit on his/her lap, kiss, wrap yourselves around one another, etc. in front of them. It's just a few hours, you can control yourselves that long.
  • Find an ally in your family. You may have an aunt or uncle who's gay, or who suspected you were. Or you may have a niece or nephew, or cousin who's fine with you being gay. You can enlist his/her help to win your parents over by acting as your buffer. S/he can give your parents a sympathetic ear when they need it, but s/he can also plead your case in subtle ways, and your parents may find it easier to hear from him/her than from you. Don't be afraid to get some help within your family with this.
  • Your parent's reaction can be unpredictable. It might enrage them, or it might force them to reconsider their views on homo/bi/transsexuality considerably.
  • If you're in a relationship, you might not want to tell your parents about your boyfriend/girlfriend right away. Some parents might worry they have turned you gay. Give your parents some time to accept your sexuality before telling them you're in a relationship.
  • If your church or place of worship doesn't accept homosexuals, don't give up on your faith entirely. There are denominations that are welcoming to homosexual people.
  • Try looking for a LGBT friendly church or other place of worship. They could help you out, even if you can't attend their services on a regular basis.
  • If this is not an option in your area, look for online support groups for LGBT followers of your religion.
  • If you have siblings, come out to your brother or sister first. Usually, they are more accepting than your parents and could even help you with coming out whether it's by easing your parents into the idea or protecting and defending you if things go badly.


  • Remember that you don't have to come out yet. If you think your parents may react badly, it may be a better idea to wait until you are over the age of majority (usually 18), and no longer financially dependent on them to come out.
  • Some religious beliefs can never be won over. Your parents may be in that minority which chooses to see things as very black and white, with no room for anything else. If this is the case, you may not see or hear much from your parents for a long time, if ever. That will be sad, but you will have to accept and respect their decisions.
  • If the parent in question has a history of violence, do not tell them under any circumstances.
    • If you're approached about your sexual orientation, be honest and tell the truth. Then leave as soon as possible.
  • If you live in a community where you feel your safety may be put in jeopardy if you come out, possibly delay coming out.

Article Info

Categories: Coming Out as LGBT