Let’s say up front, coming out is usually painful for all. Maybe we can work with the fact that some of us are further down the road in dealing with the issues of adjusting to new family structure and we can help each other.
From our family’s personal story and meeting many wonderful people through my stepdaughter, we have seen the difficulties and hurt that can cause separation in families and friends. For our family, love for each other kept us together as we worked through our situations. Others are not so lucky. We need to talk, but most of all, we need to listen to each other.
Those coming out deal with emotions of loss like:
Denial. They will change their mind about me.
Anger. It shouldn’t matter.
Guilt. I have been lying; I have hurt and disappointed them.
Grief. Things will never be the same.
Family and friends deal with emotions of loss like:
Denial. It’s just a phase; it’s not real.
Anger. They know better.
Guilt. How did I not know? I should/shouldn’t have.
Grief. It is not what I wanted for them.
It’s not hard to see the loss all around. Here’s some good news: with hurt and loss comes healing. We all have to go to work on this. What holds families and friends together through all of this? Love. Yes, the same love that some religious folks target when they reject others. (Jesus Christ himself commanded love of all–neighbors and enemies. Don’t see anyone left out there!) Can’t use religion to shut doors, but that’s another story.
Readjusting to the new family structure is a process, sometimes long, and at times painful. It takes a lot of patience, selflessness and time from all of us. It is ongoing work but becomes easier because of love.
Remember, that person is your son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister or friend we loved before. They are still our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends afterwards.
Get stuck and need help? Ask for it. Is working on things hard? Yes. Is it worth it? You know it is.
Co-founder ALISA WELDON: We all struggle differently, but love can conquer. I decided to ask my parents and siblings what they felt initially when I came out to them. You might relate to some of the answers shared here. I came out to my dad May 2, 1994. I was 19 years old and had shared the news with my mom exactly one year earlier. It doesn’t surprise me that 19 years later, I’m celebrating our family issue on the same day as our release party at Whole Foods Market. Coincidental? Perhaps, but I think all things happen for a reason.
What feelings did you have when I came out to you or you found out that I was gay?
I was not surprised. My first concern was how your dad would take this, even though I knew he would always love you, no matter what. I was unsure of how the family dynamics would look and feel, and I had fear that you would be hurt and angry with us for our concerns and questions about your lifestyle. I always knew, though, that ours was a close and loving family and we would work it out. I love you, Alisa. Pam Weldon, stepmom
There was a feeling of loss when I first was told you were gay, mainly because I assumed it meant we would not be able to relate to each other as most sisters do. I thought because I was a cheerleader and a “girly girl” you would think I was dumb, and I was more embarrassed to share my life with you. As I grew up, the most cherished conversation with you was over the phone where we cleared the air on these false assumptions and allowed each other to ask and answer difficult questions. Was there still uncertainty and fear?. Sure, but most of all there was love…and that has never changed. Abbey Weldon-Larremore, half sister
I think I was about 11 years old when Abbey told me while we were driving in the car. My first thought was that it now made sense why you were always with Lanell (for years I always thought y’all were just best friends). I also remember feeling scared because I didn’t know if this would change our relationship, and I didn’t know if I was supposed to think differently about you. It was difficult for me at 11 years old to decipher what was right between what my heart told me I felt about my sister and what the world around me told me I was supposed to feel about my sister. Thankfully, we’re a family rooted in love and I learned to trust my heart. John Weldon, half brother
I am having to reach deep to best describe the feelings I first experienced after learning that you were entering a gay lifestyle. My first reaction came straight from my gut as I wanted to come and get you and protect you. I felt very panicked. My feelings were derived from just one area: my natural fatherly instincts. I am sure you thought I was angry at you or disappointed in you based upon my initial reaction. I felt confused and concerned. I did feel angry toward others I thought I could blame for you choosing this direction. I was afraid this direction would hurt you and I desperately wanted to find a solution for you. I realized I had no control over your choice of a direction I did not condone and was not prepared to understand. I always loved you and there was nothing that could ever change that. You have always made me so proud and you continue to today. It was a tough period for us but not surprisingly, we worked through it. Love you, Sis. Always. Steve Weldon, dad
What was my biggest fear in telling my family?
That I would be rejected as a member of my family. I was terrified to tell my dad mostly (who was himself raised Southern Baptist and raised me in the Church of Christ) and felt that I wouldn’t be “right in his eyes” and be damned to hell. I knew that in order for me to live my life to its fullest, I would have to risk it all and come out (despite their feelings), so I didn’t feel like I was living a lie in their presence or anyone else’s.