Coming Out to Children

One of our members who has teen-age kids recommends leaving these books on a family coffee table:

Is It a Choice? by Eric Marcus

How It Feels to Have a Gay or Lesbian Parent: A Book by Kids for Kids of All Ages by Judith Snow

Families Like Mine, by Abigail Garner

See also Abigail Garner's website,

For elementary age kids, see (List of books at; also (List of books at Two Lives Publishing.)

The quotes on this page are from Uncommon Lives, by Catherine Whitney, quoting Brian Miller's chapter from Gay and Lesbian Parents, edited by Frederick W. Bozett.

Miller suggests that the younger the children are when they are told, the more accepting they tend to be -- especially if they have been taught to be comfortable with their own sexuality. Miller outlines what the disclosure conversation might look like.Miller's sensitive approach makes it possible to see how a loving and open conversation with one's children can be a positive experience. Treating children with respect goes a long way toward diminishing their concerns. When you communicate the message, "This is none of your business" or "You're too young to understand," a child is left with his or her private fears -- usually much worse than reality. Miller's conversation sample is designed to demonstrate the tone that should be set, rather than to actu ally answer the many questions that might be raised. For example, he doesn't suggest a way to ease children's unspoken fear that their father's homosexuality means he might hate their mother, or hate all women, including female children. However, by alert ing gay fathers to the fact that this fear might exist, Miller implies that it should be addressed. Often, many children have trouble seeing the end of their parent's marriage as anything but a personal rejection of them and sometimes even their fault. A homosexual man who is leaving his family to live with a male lover must be careful not to give his children the impression that homosexuals hate women. This might best be handled by talking about the different ways people love each other. To find help add ressing these complex concerns, Miller urges family counseling with an informed therapist.

When telling children, choose a quiet place where you won't be interrupted. Keep your tone upbeat and sincere, not heavy and maudlin. Make sure there is plenty of time for explanations and expressions of feelings. Let your children know that that this di sclosure does not change your relationship with them except to make it more honest. The following are some questions children ask and some suggested answers.

Why are you telling me this?

My emotional life is important and, by example, I can teach you to value yours, too. If I'm secretive about sex, you might get the idea that sex is frightening and something to be hidden. Homosexuality is not contagious. Fear and shame are.

What does being gay mean?

Being gay means being attracted to another man. It means being attracted so much that you might fall in love with him and express love sexually.

What makes a person gay?

There are lots of theories, but no one knows exactly what makes some people attracted to men and some attracted to women. (Caution: the child might really be asking, "Will I be gay?" or "How will I know if I am gay?")

Will I be gay?

You will not be gay just because I am. You are a separate person. You will be whatever you are going to be because of your own makeup and life experiences. I hope you will find loving relationships and that you will be open to whatever your life has t o offer.

Do you hate women?

This question might mean, "Do you hate mom?" Coming from daughters, this question usually means, "Do you hate me?"

Did your lover make you gay?

My gayness is a function of my own sexual orientation, not something that was forced on me by someone else. My lover, however, has helped me to express my warm and tender gay feelings.

What should I tell others about this?

If you have friends that you want to tell, try it out. If you have a bad experience, let's talk about it. We can learn together the best ways of sharing this.