Dear Abi,

I’m a first-year student at a British university. I think I’ve known I was gay for years, but it wasn’t till I started uni this October that I admitted it to myself - and since then, I’m coming out to all my new friends and started dating a guy from my course.

I’ll be going home soon for the Christmas holidays - the first time I will have seen my family or my friends from home since starting in the autumn - and I’m worried about what it’s going to be like. My Jamaican family are very old-fashioned and conservative, and my Dad, in particular, is really homophobic.

I know I’m not ready to come out to them yet. I will one day, but I want to sort myself out first. Do you have any advice for how to handle feeling like I’m lying to them while I’m there, though? This has been my whole life for months, and I don’t know what else I can tell them.

Many thanks,
Newly Out & Nervous

Coming Out or Not for the Holidays

Dear NON,

To start with, I’d like to offer my congratulations to you for figuring out who you are in an honest and enjoyable fashion. For many of us, that’s easier said than done - and the explorations you’ve had this term will be memories, you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. Keep going, keep figuring out who you are and who you want, and don’t let other people’s bullshit get in your way.

It sounds like you’re forging an amazing new life for yourself at university - something that’s an integral part of the school experience for almost everyone. You’ve got two worlds now - your new uni life and your old home life - and navigating the ways those worlds interact with each other is going to take some practice.

If you’re not ready to come out yet, that’s okay. I’d definitely recommend that you tell your parents one day - but you can do that in your own time, and there’s no need to rush into it. It does mean, however, that there’s going to be a certain amount of doublethink needed over the Christmas holidays - and that can be a complicated thing for a lot of people.

You'll be mine, and I'll be yours.jpg

I don’t have all the answers, NON, but there are a few tips I can give that I think might help you get through it:

  • First, if you can, try to involve your new boyfriend a little: ask him about his coming out experiences, and see if he might be okay to be around for text messages or phone calls when things get tough over the holidays. I have no idea how established your relationship is, of course, but he might be your best source of support on this one.
  • Second, don’t try to eliminate him from your conversations with your family entirely. Call him your “best friend” if that makes you more comfortable, but say honestly that you’ve been hanging out with this guy a lot and don’t feel that you need to invent a whole new social life. The more you lie, the harder it will be and the more uncomfortable you’ll feel - so stick as close to the truth as you’re happy to.
  • Third, see if there’s someone in your family you can get “on side”. Do you have siblings who might be easier to talk to than your parents or old friends who you think would react well? Are there any members of your extended family who you think would understand, or maybe a family friend who could give you a little support? Pick someone who you think will know that it’s important to you to come out on your own terms, and explain the situation to them. It will help you to feel more comfortable when you’re at home, and they could end up being a great source of support and advice for coming out when you’re ready to take that step.


Whatever you decide, it really is best not to lie too much if you can possibly help it. You’re almost certainly going to need to come out one day - and you’ll likely be happier in the long term if you do - so avoid saying anything patently untrue that you’ll have to confess to later.

Remember too that sometimes people can surprise you. Your parents love you, and they want the best for you, and there are countless stories of homophobic people having a difficult initial reaction to their child’s sexuality but coming round over time. They will almost certainly come good for you, in the end, NON - it might just take a little time first.

Good luck and best wishes,
Abi x

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Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or on Twitter @see_abi_write.



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