The following is from an e-mail I sent to a relative tonight regarding their concern for my kids as I come out. Names have been altered, but the rest is intact:
Of course, E and I have been keenly attuned to how this might affect our kids. But you know that, so that’s not why you’re worried.
I’m guessing that you’re concerned that we let our first “whew” moment about their acceptance of the immediate news take us off our guard about the longer term attention to their adjustment. I can see how we might do that, but I assure you we have not. If anything, we go in the opposite direction, dissecting the kids’ friends, their friends’ parents, their social groups, their schools, and all the rest on an ongoing basis to try to guess where any challenges might arise for them. And we’re pro-active about it. I don’t think either of us sees this as a temporary situation. We’ll keep looking out for them this way (among others) all the while they grow up. Our whole family has ready access to therapy, and that’s been true for some time. Believe me, in this family access to therapy will not be a problem.
The thing I hope you appreciate is that our whole family is, in a way, coming out as being outside the traditional norms of family life. There are people out there who will pick us out for special persecution for that reason. There will be lots of otherwise respectable people who will cheer those people along in the process without regard for whom it hurts. I know it’s upsetting to you to think of [our kids] bearing the brunt of that kind of thing. Please don’t think for a moment that E and I don’t think about that every night. That thought is one of the reasons I had to be driven to the brink of suicide before I could conceive of coming out.
But… I was driven to the brink. This is the path I chose in order to keep living. I chose it out of love for my kids as much as anything else. Believe me, the alternative was easier, neater, and would have left me with a lot more dignity in the eyes of pretty much everyone else. I just don’t think my kids would have found a lot of comfort in that dignity compared to me being there when they scraped their knee, or got an A on their report card,
So they’re going to get teased over me. I know that. Picked on. Isolated. I can picture it all. Even though none of it has happened yet, I know it’s just a matter of time. It’s not fair, it will hurt them… and it will be my fault. All mine. They would have avoided it if I stayed in the closet, without question. I’ll think of it every time I see them crying or hurt, no matter the reason. I’ll always wonder how much of it was caused in some way because I came out.
All I can offer as way of explanation is that I weighed it against the alternative, and this would seem to hurt them less. I can only hope their family can support them more when others do less.