My family found out that I'm into BDSM/submissive and they are freaking out, what do I do?

Coming out to your family, whether it be homosexuality or being kinky is a nerve-wrecking situation for anyone. Not being able to control when and where you family finds out this information would feel like a disaster but you can help reduce the reaction with some preparation and pre-planning for an unexpected outing. First I want to cover what to do if your family finds out from someone that is not you or before you are ready to tell them.  Then I'll go over some points for if you are preparing to reveal this part of your life to someone you love.

A little caveat here: you do not have to come out at all if you choose not to. You would never ask your parents what they do in the bedroom or how the inner workings of your parents' relationship work. You don't ask because it's none of your business. Just like you being kinky or submissive is none of theirs. If it doesn't have a direct impact in the way you interact with your family then they don't really need to know. Most of the BDSM community would support your decision to not tell your family. It is usually kept as a secret life that you lead. The only thing my parents know is that KnyghtMare is the head of the household and he makes all the financial and important decisions with my advice. They respect is position in my life.

Now, if you have been outed and they express a fierce disapproval of your chosen lifestyle you have a couple of options.

1. You can tell them that it is none of their business.

Yes, you respect their opinion but as long as you are an adult they really can't force you to do something you don't want to do.  Putting your family in their place may not be your favorite thing to do, but sometimes it is necessary. They care about you but for your mother or father to know that you are embracing a different lifestyle or sexuality than what they consider normal could make them feel like they failed in their role as parents. Reassure them that no one is forcing you to do this, that you came to this decision after a long process to find happiness and you hope that they will see you are happy with your decision. You can't expect to change their minds, but hopefully, they will see that all that really matters is your happiness.

2. You can remind them that you are the same person they knew before this revelation.

A lot of families believe that once they find out about your alternative lifestyle or different love style that you will suddenly become a different person.  Others may believe that they will never be able to relate to you again. Still more fear that you will no longer want to be around them. After all, this was a secret at first and the revelation means that your secret is out. Could you want to now distance yourself from those that know and don't approve? Irrational fears are quite common in these cases because your family isn't informed about your lifestyle. Help them see that you don't plan on going anywhere and that you are the same person they loved yesterday before the new information.

How Do I Prepare for an Alternative Lifestyle Outing?

Take your cues from the homosexual scene. They've been coming out for years before you and there are tons of checklists, preparedness plans and tips for how to make this as painless with minimal stress as possible.

Pick a Good Time

Don't come out during an argument of if you are angry about something. This is not a revelation that will benefit from blurting it out unprepared. Schedule time with your family. Make sure they know that you have something important that you want to discuss with them and that they free their calendar for you. People are more ready to listen if they have had time to prepare for the conversation - even if they don't know what it is.

It Takes Time

It takes time to come to terms with the new information you have given them. In that time frame of hearing to acceptance (or not), you may hear a lot of frustrating and cruel things from them. Keep the communication lines open and answer their questions honestly. Don't respond to or feed their negative behavior. Be the adult if they start to take verbal punches.

Be Prepared and Patient

It's hard to keep this information burning inside after you've made the decision to tell them, but you also want it to go as well as possible. Don't reveal your news if there is other family stress going on. Your news can wait until your grandparent is out of the hospital or your sister's divorce is final. Don't make it one more thing your family has to "deal with."

Be prepared for negative responses, religious concerns or pleas for therapy. Oftentimes when we are faced with something we can't handle we just hope it will change; that they too will experience some shock and wish things would simply change and go back to "how they used to be."

Be Ready to Teach

Explain that your choice to be kinky or submissive is likely to be a biologically based thing; that you can't change it any more than they can change their sexual orientation.

Give them time to understand some of the language related to being kinky. Words that are scary in the news and media will need to be diffused and more familiar. Some people have a book or something for reading materials ready to give parents. It's a nice way for them to be reminded gently about something they must learn about, and allow them to read and think about it at their convenience. Family members may not want to know anything at all about it. Accept this refusal graciously.

A good book to have available is "When Someone You Love is Kinky" by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt.

Explain Why You Are Coming Out

Explain that you are telling them this because you love them and don't want to be dishonest with them. Tell them that you are not alone and that you have support from people like you. Oftentimes what they are feeling is fear that you are entering the unknown all alone and knowing that you have support will help them accept you for who you are now.

Thoughts to Ponder

  1. Have you come out to your family or friends? How did that go? Do you wish it had gone differently?
  2. What advice would you give someone considering telling their family?
  3. In what ways is coming out as kinky or submissive the same as coming out gay? What ways is it different?

Links to Resources