Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


I've always known I was gay, but I'm not out to my parents, who think homosexuality is sinful. Now I'm in a long-term relationship and my boyfriend keeps asking me to come out to my parents so we won't have to pretend we're just friends. I don't like the pretending, but I just know my parents will be horrified and may disown me. I'm sure they'll tell me I'll go to hell if I don't repent. What should I do?


This is a tough predicament, and one that's a struggle for many couples. It's easy to understand why you don't want to tell your parents about your sexual orientation. It makes sense that you would rather avoid a negative reaction. It's also easy to see why your boyfriend doesn't like the pretending: keeping secrets can be emotionally stressful.

What's most important in this situation is for you to be clear about what you want. I believe that we each have to make our own decisions about coming out, and not allow anyone else to make them for us. If you're not ready to tell your parents that you are gay, don't do it for someone else. However, do be sympathetic to your boyfriend's concerns. It's wonderful that he feels good about your relationship and wants to let people know about it. PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), an international organization, has several good publications about coming out issues. If you'd like to know about those publications, call or write them at:

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
1101 14th Street, N.W., Suite 1030
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 638-4200


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.


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