What you can learn from the experiences of seniors who have come out late in life, and how it may impact one's life

Jan 24, 2012, 8:31 a.m.

There are two things that need to be understood if you're a senior who is thinking about coming out.

  1. In the US, society has never been more welcoming and accepting of alternative lifestyles than it is today.
  2. You have the right to be exactly who you want to be in life.

If you have children who are now fully-grown, it makes sense to be a little trepidatious about coming out to the family. Many people may read it as a betrayal -- or may think the man or woman that they grew up with was deceitful in their sexual identification. Many seniors find themselves ostracized, particularly in very traditional, conservative families when they reveal who they really are.

It can be especially difficult when the news comes on the end of a divorce. To learn that mom and dad are not only breaking up, but their marriage was "a mistake" in the first place can be very difficult for people to understand.

However, keeping secrets is no way to live life, and if your family ever really cared for you, then they can accept you completely or learn to accept you completely.

Nobody knows your family better than you do. If you are living with a secret, be it your sexual orientation or anything else, then you know the best time and the best place to tell your friends and family. Your more conservative family members may look at you like you just admitted to being a werewolf, but ultimately, if cool heads prevail, they'll either accept that you're the same person they've always loved or else they're the kind of family that you don't need in your life in the first place.

As mentioned, modern society is considerably more accepting of homosexuality than it was thirty, twenty, even 10 years ago. Today's young adults see homosexuality as a way of life -- no different than being born heterosexual and identifying yourself as such. Being gay is still a challenge in many aspects and there will always be those hard-headed people who cast judgment on anyone who's remotely different. Be brave, but not foolish, in terms of who you tell, how you tell them and when and where you tell them whatever it is that you need to tell them.

At the end of the day, coming out will make you happier and more complete. It will weed out your real friends from false friends and it will allow you to live exactly the life you envision for yourself, which is more important at this stage of your life than ever before.

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