Friday, October 7, 2011

Coming Out Month: A Sample Coming Out Letter

Continuing on the theme of Coming Out Month, gay people choose to come out--for example, to parents--in different ways, depending on the method they think will work best for them.  One of those ways is in a letter.  There are several reasons why you might write a letter instead of come out in person, or why you might use a letter in conjunction with coming out in person.

On occasion, I've used letters to deliver potentially difficult messages, because, in my case, I'm a better writer than speaker. Usually, before I sit down to write, I've given what I want to say careful thought. So, by the time I put pen to paper, I have notes spread around me to refer to so I'm sure to include everything.        

In addition to content, writing allows me to get the form right, too.  The process of writing affords me the opportunity to edit until I'm satisfied with the expression of every thought and the use of every word.  So, rather than stutter and stammer, as I do when I'm nervous, my message comes across smoothly and effectively.

In my reading, I recently came upon a letter a man used to tell his parents he's gay.  For the most part, the letter is well written and effective; however, some of the details were specific to his situation.  Using his letter as a starting point, I made several changes, which I hope suit your specific circumstances better.  That said, feel free to make whatever additional changes are appropriate to you and your situation.

Even though your choice may be to come out in person, you might still find the letter helpful, in terms of identifying points you want to cover and specific phrasing you could use.  Whatever the case, I hope you find the content of this letter helpful in your own coming out process.


A Sample Coming Out Letter

Dear Mom and Dad,

For a long time, I've wanted to tell you something about myself.  For reasons that will become apparent in a moment, I haven't been able to.  But, before I do, I want you to know that I love you, and nothing will change that.

There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just come right out and tell you that I'm gay.  I've known I'm gay for most, if not all, of my life.  Keeping this secret from you has been difficult for me and an increasing burden over the years.  It's also placed an invisible wall between us, because I can't share with you some things about me or what's going on in my life.  

I know that learning I'm gay might shock you, make you feel confused, angry, and sad. And you might blame yourself, thinking you failed as parents.  All of these reactions are natural and common.  But be assured you haven't failed as parents, because of what you did or didn't do, any more than I made a conscious choice to be gay.  Over time, I've been able to accept myself, I'm happy with who and what I am, and my life is good.  I'm hopeful you can be happy for me, too.

Part of me thinks you might have suspected for some time that I'm gay, because I never brought home girls while I was in school, or because I never dated any.  On the other hand, perhaps my being gay is a complete surprise, and you need time to become accustomed to the idea. Whichever is the case, ultimately, I hope our relationship will be closer than it has been in the past.

Among the reasons why I'm coming out to you now is to bring down the wall between us. When you ask me about what's going on in my life and I tell you nothing, I haven't been honest.  I didn't tell you the truth because I couldn't.  Not being able to share with you details of my life has been difficult for me, and I can't do it anymore.  As I see it, I had two choices: Either I could keep the distance between us by holding things back from you, or I could tell you the truth and hope that our relationship would be better in the long run.  

I know you've always loved me.  Writing this letter and sending it to you has been one of the most difficult things I've ever done, because of the fear I could lose that love. Although you may not understand about my being gay, I hope your love for me hasn't changed.  I'm still the same person I was before.  The only thing that's different is you now know I'm gay.     

No doubt, you need time to think about what you've read in this letter.  When you're ready, please call me so we can talk about it.  


Your name


(For those of you who are interested, the original letter is located here.  It's also found in a slightly different form on page 9 of Steven Petrow's Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners For Every Occasion: The Definitive Guide to LGBT Life, by Steven Petrow, with Sally Chew.)


  1. This is me. This is how I think! About the last paragraphs: I even feel like I've lost that love in some perspective. I'm keeping my family distant from me. And it makes me burn inside. Sometimes I even don't care about what they would say, or what they would do. I feel like I'm loosing or I've even lost their love completely, and the only way to make it it come alive again, is to tell them the truth.

  2. Elevencats, the letter speaks exactly to how unfortunate it is that those of us who aren't out often distance ourselves from the people who are most important to us. But remember, those we distance ourselves from, either physically or emotionally, probably feel it and have no idea why. They might even think it's something they've done, which it isn't at all.

    I think it's a defence mechanism for us: We distance loved ones first before they distance us. We build up the wall because we don't want to face the full blow of being cut off if things don't go well when we come out. I don't think I did this before I came out, and I don't recommend it, because we're making assumptions we know nothing about. Business as usual, I say, until we know differently for sure. Otherwise, loved ones could confront us before we're ready and ask why we're pulling away. Would you be ready to answer that question now if it came up?

    I think it's interesting that, in a previous comment, you said your father has a gay friend. I assume your father is open and accepting of his gay friend, so wouldn't that say something about how he'll respond to you when he finds out you're gay? Or do you think it's one thing to have a gay friend, and quite another to find out your own son is gay? Hard to say. Only you can gauge that situation.

    Please don't make assumptions about the love of your family before you truly know how they will respond to your sexual orientation. That's not fair to them, and it's certainly not fair to you. Just a suggestion that will help along the way.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

  3. Many Thanks I am copying this right now to send to my mum!

  4. Thanks for your interest in my blog.
    I'm so happy you found something here to help you on your journey to come out. I pray all goes well for you.
    Coming out is a big step, but a necessary one. I'm sure once your family knows and has had time to digest it, they will be as supportive of you as ever.
    All the very best.

  5. thank you, thank you so much.

  6. You are so welcome, Anonymous.

    It makes me happier than you can imagine to know something I've written or provided here has been helpful. That's the whole reason why I have this blog and continue to work on it.

    I sincerely wish you well during your coming out process, and I hope you'll check out some of the other posts I've written, which I think you'll find equally helpful in other ways.

    All the very best.

  7. Thank you so much, this helped plan mine when I was in the darkness staring at the computer screen. Its hard to know what to write to your parents, and people like you who take time to help people like us is much appreciated:)

  8. Anonymous, I'm so grateful you found something here that you can use in your coming out process.

    Always remember, when you are at a loss for words, particularly about matters as sensitive as coming out to those who are most important to you, a good starting point is to speak from your heart. Let your heart tell you what must be said, and you'll never go wrong.

    The very best to you at this difficult and exciting time. Once you are out, you will finally be able to get on with the business of being who you were meant to be. And you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

  9. Thankyou sooooooooooo much!!!! I didn't even know where to start with my letter :)

    1. You are so welcome. I sincerely hope this helps.
      Good luck. You are about to embark on the most exciting and best time of your life.
      Everything will be fine. You'll see.

  10. oh god I'm about to send'm scared since she texted.if you're a lesbian don't tell me id rathee be dead :(

    1. Wow, Anonymous. That's a severe reaction.

      I don't know your mother, but my guess is she's responding emotionally–she dreads the idea that her daughter could be gay. But it's possible she'll have a very different reaction, when she has to face the reality of what you tell her, and she realizes she has a choice to make: to reject the daughter she's loved and cherished all these years, or to accept her for the wonderful and amazing human being she is.

      All I can say is, give her time. Parents, and people in general, often say things they don't mean. I can't imagine she would rather be dead than have a lesbian daughter, and you must believe that is not the case too.

      I pray for the day when none of us has to come out or face the possibly of being rejected, just because of our sexual orientation. Frankly, I can't think of a less justified reason.

      If you're up to it, let me know how it goes. I'd really like to know.

      My thoughts and good wishes are with you. You can get through this. I promise you can, no matter the reaction. In terms of your own life, it will be the best thing you've ever done. Not coming out, because of fear, is not an option.