• Wed, Feb 22 2012

Both My Parents Came Out As Gay

gayfamilyWhen Christina was a teenager, she came out to her parents as a lesbian. Yet some years later in her early 20s, after graduating from college, it was Christina’s father who came out as gay — and then her mother too.

She tells me that her parents were married for 25 years in a marriage that both she and her sister both can recall as happy. She describes them as “excellent partners and parents,” but in retrospect, does recall her mother and father not exhibiting much physical affection over the years. News of the divorce came just as her younger sister was graduating college as her father confessed that he was gay. It was a secret that he had every intention of taking to his to grave. But after years of living in a heterosexual partnership, the father of two could hide his identity no longer.

The announcement brought havoc to the family, Christina says, with her mother visibly “devastated” at the end of the marriage. Christina too says that learning of her father’s own sexuality made her question her own entry into this world.

“I felt the weight of years of lies,” she says. “It also gave me an existential dilemma — if he’d been true to himself I’d have never been born. He told [my sister and I] very emphatically that he wouldn’t change a thing. He’d still marry our mother, who he loves, and have us as his children. It was difficult to reconcile, but I got to the point where I could believe both.”

After her father came out, Christina detected an immediate difference to him, saying that he “seemed like a better version of himself; it was easier to joke and laugh and talk.”

As the years passed, her parents resumed being “dear friends” as they once were both prior to and during their marriage. Nearly a decade after the divorce, Christina’s mother has found love again — with a woman. The formerly straight-identified mother fell in love with a longtime friend in what her daughter has deemed “the exception” to her years of heterosexual romance. The two married in Connecticut and are now raising Christina’s 10-year-old step-sister whom her step-mother adopted as an infant.

Christina’s father is also happily partnered to a man whom she describes as “now thoroughly part of the family.” But even when reflecting on her parents’ seemingly mirrored sexualities, she considers their individual routes to be very different experiences.

“Dad’s coming out was distinctly something he’d been hiding from for years; mom’s was more of a recent development,” she says. “Neither were moral confrontations but rather personal realizations.”

Christina tells me that her father was primarily frightened to come out due to rejection by his family. Even now, the father has yet to formerly come out to his mother, although she is aware of son’s partnership with a man. The relationship remains as something that goes unspoken between mother and son, despite the end to his heterosexual marriage.

Christina says that she had no suspicions about either of parents’ sexualities, but adds that her parents handled her own coming out well. Despite her parents not being openly queer when she was growing up, she still derived much support from them.

“I came out before my parents, but they were always great role models for me,” she maintains. “I learned a lot about how difficult it is for previous generations, but also how much can change in very little time.  Honestly, my parents fill me with hope!”

Christina is now expecting her own child this May with her wife. She tells me that she feels very “fortunate” for being able to have a family that accommodates both her sexuality and her desire for children. Through her experiences and witnessing that of her parents, she realizes that even just a generation ago, building a family like her own was much less possible.

(photo: Shutterstock)

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  • Abigail.

    I think it’s fantastic that they were all able to be honest with themselves and each other and find such happiness.

  • Michelle

    I actually went to grad school with a friend in this situation. Her husband came out first and she shortly followed after being married 15 years. They have both been in committed same sex relationships for a few years now. Together they have three children in their teens. Unfortunately, the two older kids have not been able to cope with the change and live with a grandparent; the youngest lives with the father. Divorce can still be upsetting for the kids no matter what the reason.