My Dad Just Came Out Of The Closet ... Now What? 5 Ways To Deal

gay dad

Will this change your relationship with him? ... Only if you let it.

So, your dad just dropped one hell of a bombshell—he's gay ... and you had NO idea.

Congrats! You're having your own personal Hannah Horvath on Girls moment.

Now what do you do? Where did this man (or this announcement) even come from? Were you too engrossed in Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games all of these years to have not seen the signs?

As you slowly process the news, you flash back to all the times you caught 'Dear Old Dad' singing along (rather enthusiastically now that you think about it) to Lady Gaga's "Baby, I Was Born This Way." And that's when it hits you—holy, flying meatballs, there's not enough sauce and spaghetti in the world to cover up them there balls of truth.

Is it too late to make a guest appearance on GLEE to solo perform a twisted version of "I'm Coming Out," renamed, "My Dad's Coming Out"?

Don't worry, you're not the only one to go through this. And you're not a freak because your Dad just kicked down the closet doors.

More importantly, there's some serious awesome sauce involved with going through those closet doors with your Dad, even if right now it feels like your world (as you knew it) just imploded.

The first lesson your Dad just taught you is ... it's damn important to Just Be You!

Sure he took the winding, crooked path to getting to his truth, but life is all about twists and turns, potholes and delays. Even with all those roadblocks, nothing says, "Here I am. Hear me roar!" as beautifully as finally stepping into your truest, fullest, most authentic self.

Now, of course, along with the truth bomb that Pops just dropped in your lap, comes initial feelings of anger, confusion, and fear, along with questions like, "Does this mean I'm gay too?" All of this yucky stuff that just bubbled over the brim of the pot of your life is enough to make any grown adult cry, let alone you, the adult child of this newly out grown man.

So let's break down some pretty hip tricks to help you handle this rather startling news in your life:

1. Accept that you're not alone. As hard as it might be to talk about having a gay parent (unless you already find it uber cool), realize that you do have peeps, buddies, homies that you can turn to. Check out Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), PFLAG, and even a pretty cool group just for kids with gay parents—COLAGE. Plus, you can always go to YouTube and find hundreds of videos from people just like you! Support is here.

2. Just because he is doesn't make YOU gay. Gay isn't as gay is. Ok, that probably doesn't make a lot of sense unless you stop and digest it, but the truth is, just because you may have a gay or lesbian parent doesn't mean they passed the genetic flow down to you. Wires get crossed, x's dance with y's differently in the chromosomal make up and ... voila, you're gay. Dad's little swimmers don't really determine your sexual orientation anymore than Mom's patiently waiting little eggs do.

3. Say what you need to say. Anyone who tries to silence your feelings needs a time out of their own! Truth is, the sooner you and Dad (and Mom, for that matter) start having honest talks about the very "for real" gay stuff going down around ya, the sooner you'll get your feelings out in the open and the less you'll feel like a bomb about to explode.

4. Don't take sides, just be you. Unfortunately, this big life explosion that's put Mom and Dad in different corners, often causes you to feel caught in the middle. You might end up being the bigger "adult" right now because your parents are acting like spoiled little children as they process their own feelings. If you feel caught between them (which is no healthier for adult children than for younger children), then let your folks know and make your voice loud and clear. Also, you may have to do this several times before they quit using you as a pawn.

Discomfort is par for the course, but doesn’t mean you can’t get your answers. As much as parents try to shield kids from the truth, sharing the truth must happen at some point. My own personal rule of thumb in addressing my gay life with my kids was—share based on what they can understand. You, as the child, may need to blatantly say, "Here's what I understand, and here's where you need to help me understand." If you can do this, you'll let your parent(s) know exactly what you're expecting and how they can support you.

5. Confide with caution, but don't hide. There's a fine line that you will walk as you accept your dad coming out of the closet. (And, in a sense, you're coming out of the closet, too.) Cautiously share your family's truth with your friends. Some will say, "Yay, that's great. So what?" but others will go south on you in a heartbeat.

One of the best ways to test the waters is to talk about LGBTQ life in general and see how your friends react. Then take it baby step-by-baby-step to reveal whether you can truly trust them with your family's story.

Remember, you have a right to feel treated with respect, not kept in the dark , and loved ... just as your Dad wants the same in light of his truth.

What's really cool though is ... if you're brave and open-minded ... your Dad's coming out is one of the greatest life lessons you'll ever learn. Why? Because life is honestly just a series of closets that we each come out of every single day! We're all just trying to bravely be our truest self.

Need some support, insights, or a rock-solid guy with experience to help you, your dad, and your family navigate this coming out journey? Hit Rick Clemons, The Coming Out Coach, up for some cool tools and support, or read his book, Frankly My Dear I'm Gay


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