'How do I tell my parents I’m gay?'

It’s time once again for our weekly Sex Column, our regular series where experts advise struggling daters on navigating the sticky world of romance.

Last week, we helped someone who cannot un-see their parents having kinky sex after he walked in on them when he was 17.

This week, we have a woman who is worried about what her parents will think if she tells them she is gay.

How should she tell them? Should she be worried about their reaction?

The problem:

I shouldn’t have to worry about being gay in 2022 but because of my parents’ views, I do.

To them, I’m pretty, successful and the perfect daughter. All that’s missing is a husband and, now I’m approaching my 30s, it feels like they are becoming ever more concerned.

I was with the same guy from school until I was 23. Everyone assumed we’d marry but something never felt right for me.

I secretly watched lesbian porn and it really turned me on, though I couldn’t imagine doing anything like that myself.

All that changed when a new girl started at work. She never made any secret of her sexuality or that she fancied me.

We started going for drinks after work and there was so much chemistry between us, it wasn’t long before we ended up back at her flat. The sex was electric and everything fell into place.

I ended things with my boyfriend, which caused huge distress for everyone. I would like to be open about my sexuality and settle down but that hasn’t worked so far.

I often get lonely and lately I’ve become quite promiscuous, meeting women on websites and having sex with strangers I meet in bars. I feel like I’ve ruined everything and set my life on a downward spiral.

What the experts say:

Don’t feel burdened by the obligation to be the perfect daughter – our experts all think you might be surprised by your parents’ reaction if you were honest with them.

‘Coming out is difficult but most people agree it wasn’t as bad as they feared,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘There is so much more to you than just your sexuality and your parents will understand that. They may be shocked initially but will come to terms with it.’

Once you’ve spoken to your parents, leave it to them to break the news to friends and family. Talking it over will help them process the information about the ‘new you’.

James McConnachie agrees they might not be as hostile as you fear but he’s cautious.

‘While it’s fine to have fun with your sexuality, promiscuity is not a cure for loneliness,’ he says. ‘What you need now, more than sex, is a friend you can talk to. Think about who has offered you understanding and talk to them.’

Although it may feel like you’re on a downward spiral, you aren’t, says Rupert Smith.

‘You’re probably just making up for lost time,’ he says. ‘A lot of LGBT people waste years concealing who they really are and sow their wild oats later on. Try connecting with LGBT groups in your area who have dealt with this situation.’

Once you start living authentically, everyone is convinced the future will seem bright again. It’s time to take that burden off your shoulders.

The Experts:

Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

Got a sex and dating dilemma?

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For more sex and relationships content join Jackie Adedeji and Miranda Kane for our weekly sex positive podcast: Smut Drop. It’s a whole new world of sexpertise where no topic is off limits.

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