Coming out to your family as a member of the LGBTQ+ community can be frightening and may take a person years to work up the courage.
How their loved ones respond can leave a long-lasting impression.
One father wondered if playing a prank on his son when he decides to come out.
He turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit to pose a hypothetical “Would I Be The A**hole” (WIBTA) question for feedback on his plans.
Redditor aitatrollson asked:
“WIBTA if I troll my son and his [boyfriend] BF when they come out to us?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“My son (16M) is gay and we all knew since he is 8, don’t know how but we all knew.
“He was kind of a surprise but a happy one of course, but his youngest sister is 29, his oldest is 32, me and my wife are 62 years old so he is the joy of our household and our daughters possibly love him more than us.”
“Me and my wife are both retired so we are mostly at home, sometimes giving lectures as a guest at our old beloved university and it is a blessing to be at home with our kid at his teenage years.”
“My youngest daughter lives next door to us and our oldest lives a 5 minute-walk away from us with my wonderful Son-In-Law.”
“He has a boyfriend from his school for 2 years and they think they are doing a great job hiding from us (nope,we all know) and it is adorable to watch them awkwardly flirt, give a kiss or etc… and it has been a joy to watch their relationship bloom (also my younger daughter is currently planning their hypothetical wedding in her head).”
“Last week, I heard them talking about coming out to us when he comes to stay at our house next week. I know his BF’s family is off limits and we are planning to house him when they find his orientation because his dad is something I don’t want to name.”
“I know this is a big step for them and I know this will be a critical moment but my son is a prankster, I am a prankster, also my older daughter and her husband are pranksters.”
“We are also big Star Wars fans in this household (me and my wife met at the cinema at 1977, watching a New Hope in our first year of college).”
“So I am planning to say ‘We knew, we all knew.The only one who did not know was you and we did not tell you because we wanted to see your face when it changed expressions (Carrie Fisher said this to George Lucas at roast speech, RIP Leia). My son is also known to have a poker face so this line will suit really well.”
“My wife thinks this would be really cruel and heartless, my younger daughter thought it would not be inappropriate, my older daughter and son-in-law think it is a wonderful idea to ease the enviroment.”
“Then my younger daughter told us about this forum so we are here now.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA/YWNBTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA/YWBTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided OP would be the a**hole if he decided to prank his son when he comes out to his family.
“YWBTA – there’s a time and place for pranks; when he’s ready to come out to you, it’s been a long process and requires huge amount of trust.”
“Don’t betray that trust. This is a special moment; a defining moment for him.” ~ Zealousideal_Boat944
“Absolutely agree. I totally understand the temptation, but the time for ‘Dad jokes’ and all the rest is a bit later.”
“At the time they actually come out to you, all they want is acceptance and love. At least give them 5 minutes of that before you start cracking jokes.”
“You don’t want to miss the mark and actually cause them trauma – you would live with that for the rest of your life.” ~ Aussiealterego
“There are so many stories [on Reddit] of people coming out who are upset because they don’t get the reaction they expected.”
“Rather than some great outpouring of positive, negative, or mixed emotions, they get ‘We knew,’ ‘OK,’ or ‘That’s fine, but we weren’t finished with the subject at hand,’ and get annoyed, deflated, or angry.”
“There are also so many stories here of ‘clever pranks’ done at the wrong time and place, or that humiliate someone.”
“As well intentioned as OP might be, this is somehow all those bad things wrapped up in one.”
“Just don’t.” ~ mbbaer
“Yeah, pretty much all I got from my dad was an awkward ‘We knew’.”
“It’s not the end of the world, I didn’t get thrown out of the house, but it hurt then in a way I didn’t understand and it hurts in retrospect.”
“Please don’t do that, OP.”
“Tell him you love him, you support him, give him like 75% more love than you think you need to. You can joke about it and the lines you thought up some time after his nerves have calmed down.” ~ Lulu_42
“Personally, it also feels minimizing to me—if they’ve known all along, what’s the point of coming out?”
“I’m sure most people who respond that way don’t mean it in that way at all, but coming out is something deeply personal to a lot of people.”
“It’s a moment of trust, and something that can be terrifying to do, especially when you’re coming out to your parents.”
“I’ve had people say it to me, and it just kind of stings to finally feel safe opening up to someone about something and to have them just go ‘yeah, I knew’.”
“Sure, there are worse ways for people to take it, and I would take an ‘I know’ over a ‘you’re going to burn in hell’ or just straight up calling me a slur, but it’s still not a great response.” ~ etherealparadox
“To be honest, one of the biggest things that has prevented me from coming out to my family is that there are certain members who I know will react like this.” ~ GreyWhitePurple
“Because it was the bravest thing you’d ever done up to that point in your young life. You might have heard the stories of kids being ostracized by their families, suffered violence, or ended up homeless after their parents found out about them, and there you are, squaring up to tell them anyway.”
“You think they might be okay with it, but you never truly know, do you, how they will really react. There’s only hope.”
“You brace yourself, heart hammering, stomach knotting, and tell them, knowing full well that in the worst case? You will irrevocably damage the relationship with your parents, who are the very foundation of your life.”
“Best case? Support, and the assurance that their love is unconditional.”
“Of course indifference stings. Is it as bad as the worst case? No.”
“But to get no understanding of how momentous that moment was, of how much you laid yourself bare and made yourself vulnerable, of your willingness to upend the status quo can’t not sting.”
“Because in this context ‘we knew’ might as well be ‘we don’t care’.” ~ serabine
“YWBTA – Coming out isn’t easy, even when a person is pretty sure they’ll be supported. It’s not the time or place to prank someone.” ~ anathema_deviced
The general consensus on Reddit was to save the jokes for another time.