In celebration of Pride Month, we decided to ask parents of the BuzzFeed Community who came out after having kids to tell us what their experience was like. And, well, these parents got personal and shared stories that included both the difficult things they had to overcome, and also how much happier they are to be their authentic self:
"As a man married to my high school sweetheart, together for over 20 years with two teenage kids I was devastated when she wanted a divorce because she was leaving me for someone she had met at work. Growing up in a conservative Catholic family the thought of being gay wasn’t even an option — I felt the need to bury any feelings.
After going through the divorce and even dating another female for two years in my early forties, I knew what I knew back in kindergarten: I liked Susie but was also attracted to Billy (just didn’t know exactly what that meant). Only after going to my first gay bar and meeting another man did I realize that 'this is where I belong.' I stayed in the closet for another two years but when I finally came out to my kids, I realized the heavy burden I'd been carrying on my shoulders by not being honest with them or the people I love. My kids along with the ex-wife have been nothing but supportive since coming out as I am still the same dad and person that they knew and loved but now open to being my authentic self.
Of course, as I mentioned, coming from a large Catholic family not everyone (including some of my siblings) are so understanding, but I realize that that is their issue and not mine. Grateful for the way my life has turned out, both as a heterosexual male for the first 40 years and now as a gay male, both lives have been a wonderful journey and I wouldn’t trade any of it. Still hurts me to hear about people struggling so much and having to be closeted, the shame that they feel for being gay and can’t be there authentic self. Hopefully we continue in the right direction of being excepting and realizing that out sexuality has very little to do with the people that we truly are inside."
"I fell in love with a woman when I was 42. My relationships had all been heterosexual up to that point, which made it easy to hide my bisexuality. I finally came out to my family and the world, changed my name to reflect who I really am, and haven’t looked back at the closet since. My religious parents were aghast at first, but my mom ended up including my girlfriend in the family Christmas exchange and our relationship is stronger than it’s ever been. My daughter was a young adult and she was my biggest support. My younger boys are growing up in a home with lots of mommies, daddies, aunts, uncles, niblings, and grandparent figures. All they know is they are very loved. Coming out is the best gift to myself and my children and I’m grateful I felt safe enough to make the leap."
"I made an account specifically for this, anyways this is not about me but my dad! He and my mom were together in high school and moved to NYC together for college and then my mom found out she was pregnant (with me, obviously) and she just didn’t want to be a parent (which is whatever) so she had me and then just left me and my dad (my dad went through college with a kid which, like, props to him, yeah?).
Anyways, when I was about 12 or 13, he came out to me and basically told me he likes guys. A few months later he introduced his boyfriend to me and basically the rest is history. It never changed my feelings about him and his boyfriend is super nice and they’ve been together for about four years now!
He came out to his dad before me and his dad was/is very homophobic so…yeah we don’t see them anymore for holidays. It sucks for my dad because he can’t even see his siblings anymore because they live with his dad, but he says he has made peace with it.
He’s my dad and always will be so I don’t really care and never will. And I'm rooting for him and his BF to get married (fingers crossed, LOL)."
"I came out as bi to my husband and sister and it was just kind of swept under the rug because I'm madly in love with my husband and my son is too young to understand or even care about sexual orientation. But I do wish I had discovered it sooner because I had internal hate and confusion for finding women attractive and I feel like I could have had higher self-esteem and not been stuck in some bad relationships through my youth, but on the other hand it all led me to my husband and he is and will always be the love of my life."
"I realized in my early twenties that I was attracted to women, after being married for three years and being in a relationship with this person since our junior year of high school. Shortly after I came out to my other half, she came out as a trans woman to me. We are so happy being our authentic selves. We have a beautiful baby boy who has two moms that love him unconditionally. Sometimes I just stop and am in awe all over again how a closeted lesbian and a closeted trans woman found each other. It was so meant to be."
"I got married right out of high school. We had three kids and after the youngest was born I became OK with being gay. I thought the best thing to do was tell her. It didn't go well, I was told if I left I wouldn't see my kids (she swears she never said that) and I was also told I wasn't gay just looking for attention or a way out and if I was to stay I had to go to counseling.
After 25 years and three grown kids, I met someone and left (not the right way, I know). For months after that no one talked to me. Now my kids are talking to me and accepting (except for one) and the ex is civil. I don't know what will happen in the future, but I'm happy."
"My best friend was pregnant when she came out to a small group of her friends as bisexual. She and her husband have been married 11 years and plan to stay together until the end of time, but she struggles a lot with her identity as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. As an artist, she often applies for grants where revealing her sexual orientation would greatly improve her chances of being selected, but once shared with me that she doesn’t feel 'bi enough' because she’s never been with a woman. To everyone who is brave enough to be themselves, no matter the cost, I say bravo. May you find those who love you for you."
"It is hard. Really hard. I am not out to my 8-year-old, but am gathering the guts to do that. I have to tell my husband that I know for a fact that I’m gay… but it’s my kid I’m most worried about."
"I struggled with my sexuality my whole life and could never just 'come out' so I did the expected thing and got married then had two kids. I was married for almost 17 years and knew that I was doing myself a disservice by not being my authentic self and came out. My boys were upset at first, but more so for the impending divorce than my gay announcement. Now, four years since coming out I have a great relationship with my boys and they even get along with my husband. Was rocky at first but worked out in the end. Wish I would not have waited so long."
"I had my son at 16 and came out at 20 years old. One of the first things I remember is my father saying, 'It’s OK' and my mother saying, 'So what was up with these guys???' LOL. Overall they were super-supportive. I’m now married to a woman and OUR son is 12. We haven’t spoken to his biological father in years and my wife stepped right up. He calls her dad only because he calls me mom, mommy, mama, ma, etc. in his mind it makes sense. We’ve been together since he was almost 5 and married since he was 7."
"I never planned on sharing that I am bisexual with anyone in my family. Ever. They are extremely homophonic. However, when my daughter came out bravely as lesbian to my entire family at 13 years old and risked their hate, hurtful comments, mean intentions, and ignorance…I knew I couldn’t let her endure it alone. I had lunch with my mother and tried to explain why her and my dad’s hopes of conversion therapy for her was hateful, ignorant, and dangerous and I would NOT tolerate this from them.
She tried to tell me that anyone who is LGBTQ+ would lead a miserable unloved life and be condemned by God. I couldn’t stay quiet anymore and told her, 'Am I unloved or unwanted? Am I miserable? Have I been condemned by God?' She looked offended and said, 'No! Of course not!' I responded with, 'But I’m bisexual and have dated and loved both women and men.' The look of stunned shock on my mother's face spoke a thousand words. Lunch ended there. I do not regret coming out to my family or worry about what they will say or think anymore. My daughter gave me the courage."
"I came out at 32, after being married to two different men and having four kids. I always knew I was pansexual but not a lot of other people did, so it surprised everyone when I started dating a woman (and promptly moved in with her a month later) after my husband left me for a literal teenager. Most of my family disowned me, and my aunt who raised me was really upset, but not she LOVES my wife, probably more than she loves me, LOL. The rest of my family still — three years later — doesn’t speak to me but that's alright because my kids love her and my exes love her too and we are all good over here. I am happier than I have ever been, living my life as my true self."
"I've known I was bisexual since I was 11, which conveniently enough, is about the time I met my now-husband. But I realized I was non-binary after having my first child! I still want her to call me mommy, and so far nothing has been weird — my husband and I are cis-het-passing, but I know this will all make my relationship with my kids stronger. I will say, I'm pregnant again as an NB, and it's very strange...definitely dysmorphia. But I'm so glad I can carry and feed our children, because I love my husband so much, and love our family, and I love that I can raise two kids and teach them about things like this from such a young age."
"I finally owned being a lesbian after being with the same man since the end of high school. Together for almost eight years, and three beautiful kids later. The last year or so of the relationship I knew who my true self was but I felt like I had already made this huge decision to have a family — how could I just leave? I thought I was being selfish to even consider it. I spent so many sleepless nights staring at my then-husband, mourning a life I didn’t have. In 2017, I fell hard for a woman I would never be with, but she helped me own who I am and I realized I was doing something I would never want my kids to do: force a relationship or be untrue to themselves. I knew it was my time. I came out to my then-husband in our living room. We both cried. He told me he wanted me to be happy no matter what and he supported me. We cried some more, we sat together, and held each other for hours.
We divorced amicably months later. I have now been with my beautiful fiancée for going on four years. My ex-husband is still incredibly supportive. My fiancée stepped into the role of being a parent. My oldest daughter will occasionally mention about missing the 'before' when her dad and I were together. My youngest daughter has no memory of her dad and I being together. To her, it’s always been my fiancée and I, and dad and his fiancée. My kids LOVE that they get three moms out of the deal. My fiancée and I bought a house, and we have our rescue dogs and cats, and of course my beautiful kiddos (who my ex and I share 50/50). I do still berate myself at times for upending my kids’ lives — that has definitely been the hardest part. Forgiving myself.
However, the 'tomboy' who, since preschool, dreamed of short hair, and looking like a boy, who got 'butterflies' when she had a beautiful teacher in fifth grade, who always felt uncomfortable in her own skin, has finally been set free. I am so confident in my sexuality, I love being a more masculine presenting woman. I feel like I am me, after years of being someone I was not."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.