Happy National Coming Out Day! Gay men and women across the country and breaking down their closet doors and proclaiming their sexual orientations to the world.
National Coming Out Day is celebrated each year on October 11 because that’s the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington, when gay rights activists gathered to demand the government offer them the same rights and privileges as everyone else. Over 200,000 people turned out for the march.
With same-sex marriage now legal in more than half the states in the U.S., and with a new celebrity or public figure coming out seemingly every other day, society has come a long way since 1987 in its acceptance of gay people. But that doesn’t mean coming out has necessarily gotten easier. It can still be totally awkward and uncomfortable, even if your family is cool with it.
There are lots of great ways to come out to your family. But here five ways you definitely shouldn’t do it…
At your Great Aunt Winifred’s funeral
From a practical standpoint, coming out at your Great Aunt Winifred’s funeral may seem like a great idea. After all, the entire family is gathered in the same place, so you can just make one sweeping announcement to everyone all at once, rather than sitting them each down individually. But from a realistic, more human standpoint, coming out at your Great Aunt Winifred’s funeral could prove to be absolutely disastrous. People will already be upset and emotional. You don’t want to add to their stress by suddenly saying “Surprise! I’m gay!” Not to mention, it would be discourteous to overshadow Aunt Winnie’s final send-off with your own big news.
In a moving vehicle
Think about it: High speeds. Close quarters. Potentially shocking news. Not a good combo. If, for some odd reason, you’re absolutely intent on coming out in your parents’ car, at least do it while the vehicle is parked.
In a text message
There are some things that are just better said in person rather than in a text. Informing someone of the death of their beloved pet, for instance. Or breaking up with them. Also, coming out.
Picture your mom standing in line at the grocery store. All of a sudden she gets a text. She opens up her phone and sees the words: “Hey, Ma. I’m gay. Love you! XOXO.” Even if you have the coolest mom in the world, she’s probably not going to appreciate having that kind of news sprung on her while she’s out running her daily errands.
At your crazy cousin Connie’s wedding reception
Similar to your Great Aunt Winifred’s funeral, refrain from coming out at your crazy cousin Connie’s wedding reception mainly out of respect. And because she’s crazy. There’s no telling how she might respond. Let the woman have her day. Unless, of course, you want her to hate you for the rest of her life, scowling at you from across the room at every future family get together, because you’re the jerk who ruined her dream wedding by stealing her spotlight, damn you!
By simply introducing your folks to your boyfriend
Seriously, it’s just rude. Not only are your parents going to have to quickly absorb the news that their child is gay, but then they’re going to have to sit and make small talk with someone who, up until five minutes ago, they didn’t even know existed. And your poor boyfriend! Meeting the folks is nerve-racking enough, but to then be used as a surprise coming out tool is just disrespectful, and could very likely result in him no longer being your boyfriend by the day’s end.