For many gay men, coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday also means coming out to their families. In a new poll by leading gay dating site, Gaydating.com, 68% of singles are planning on telling their families they are gay, during the holiday weekend. In fact, 55% are planning on coming out during Thanksgiving dinner, 35% are planning to find a good moment over the long, holiday weekend, while 10% will be surprising their family by bringing home a male dinner guest.
“For many gay men still in the closet, Thanksgiving and other family holidays can be very lonely,” said Josh Mirmelli, Gaydating.com’s relationship advisor and a Postdoctoral Psychology Resident at the Motivational Institute for Behavior Health, LLC.
“The family atmosphere at Thanksgiving is very warm and loving, and many closeted gay singles feel left out because they cannot be themselves, or share the holiday with their partners or boyfriends. But, while Thanksgiving might seem like a good time to share the news with family and close friends, gay singles should be prepared in case the news isn’t well received,” said Lori Eickleberry, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Motivational Institute for Behavioral Health in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Follows are tips, compiled by Gaydating.com’s relationship advisors, for gay men intending to come out this holiday season:
1. Ensure that you have an adequate support system and develop a “safety plan.” In the event that your loved ones do not initially respond well, have a place to sleep for the night and friends to turn to for support.
2. Be wary of alcohol and drugs. Avoid the temptation to rely on alcohol or drugs as a “social lubricant” or anxiety reducer. Coming out when sober will limit the risk of taking a step for which you are not ready and will allow you to have a conversation with a clear mind.
3. Search for allies. If you think that certain friends or family members will be easier to tell than others, start there first. Positive reinforcement and support go a long way during times of increased stress.
4. Remember that just as you went through a rollercoaster of emotions surrounding your sexual orientation, family and friends may need some time as well. Anticipate that family and friends might need some time to process the news before having any further discussions.
5. Oftentimes, initial reactions are based on a lack of understanding. Having information and resources available to friends and family might aid their process of acceptance. The American Psychological Association's article, "For A Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality,” is one example.
6. Be aware of any strong emotions such as hopelessness, and seek the help of a professional if you feel you lack the support and guidance you need.