DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m a 23-year-old man, and I have met someone who makes me so happy in a way that I’ve never felt before. This person is a he, and it’s my first time being in a relationship with a man.
I’ve always been attracted to men, but I kept my distance because my family would never approve, so I forced myself into relationships with women. I’ve never felt complete nor honest with who I am. I want this relationship to go further, but I know this means coming out to my parents and the chance that they’ll cut me out of their lives. I’m scared to lose my family for being who I am. How should I come out to them? -- Coming Out, Detroit
DEAR COMING OUT: Stepping into the fullness of who you are, especially when that means going against your parents’ values, is hard. Even in 2018, it can be difficult to claim your sexual identity and be accepted by your family and community. That does not mean that you should pretend that you are someone you are not. Instead, you should figure out your life and protect yourself in the process. That includes not sharing every detail of your intimate life with your parents right away.
Be responsible as you explore your sexuality. Be honest. Have the courage to express your feelings to the man you like, and see what happens. When you are ready to talk about your life, go to your parents and tell them your story. Ask for their unconditional love even if they are uncomfortable with your path. Tell them you are not living as a gay man to hurt them, but instead to fulfill your life’s journey. It may take them time to adjust. It is even possible that they may never accept that part of you, but you have to live your own life.