How to Come Out to a Sibling

Siblings are built-in best friends from birth. They make us love them and hate them in equal turns, but at the end of the day, a brother or sister is sometimes all we've got. Telling a sibling you are gay or lesbian can be terrifying, but the disclosure is usually accompanied by instant relief. Here are some suggestions for breaking the news without breaking the relationship.

Think about what you're going to say. Consider practicing aloud. There's no need to prepare a speech or write down paragraphs of pre-planned dialogue, but you do want to have an idea of how you would like to broach the topic and what points you want to cover.

Measure the quality of your relationship and the timing of the conversation. Determine what's going on in your sibling's life. If your brother is getting ready to go on a dream vacation or your sister has been recently depressed, consider waiting for a better time to have the conversation. While there will never be a "best" time to come out to a sibling, some moments are better than others.

Make your personal feelings abundantly clear to your sibling. News that you're gay or lesbian can be confusing; take the time to clarify how you feel about it. The conversation will be easier if you communicate to your sibling that you are leading a comfortable, fulfilled and happy life.

Reiterate your relationship with your sibling. When you come out to your brother or sister, tell them how important they are to you, how much you care for them and how crucial it is that they are aware of your lifestyle. Remind them that you always want to be an active part of their life. Their initial feelings of anger, surprise or sadness will probably change, but they will remember that you stressed your love for them.

Encourage your brother or sister to ask questions. Don't dominate the dialogue so much that they leave still wondering about things. Showing your appreciation for their questions and answering candidly will result in a much better coming out for both of you.

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