Lee, 19, from Los Angeles, came out at 16.
Lee expected his father to take his news in stride, and his mother, who grew up more conservative in Hong Kong, to have a hard time with it. She surprised him. "She just said 'A mother knows. We've known for awhile and it's fine.' We did a lot of crying," he recalls. "My parents just sat there and kept reiterating the fact that I was their son and they'd love me no matter what," says Lee. "I was so afraid it would distance me from them and create more secrets. Once I felt like I had the support of my parents, I didn't feel like I had to skirt the issue with anyone."
Tori, 19, from Worcester, MA, came out at 16.
"What my mother did that was really good was talk about it a lot with me, and we still do to this day-we're really close," she says. Still, Tori wishes her mother were more comfortable with the fact that she's a lesbian. Her mom hasn't told most family members and friends, and asks Tori to keep it quiet when she's home from college. She still displays pictures of Tori's junior prom, which she attended with a boy, but not those from her senior prom, which she went to with a girl. "I get really sad sometimes because I don't know if I can be myself. I think, it's not like I've killed anyone?I was gay forever. The only difference is that now you know it."
Striker, 21, Daytona Beach, FL, came out at 19.
Striker told a friend first, and then felt he had to tell his parents so they would find out from him. His parents are divorced, so he spoke with his mother first. "She started crying, saying she had wanted to have grandchildren and now she wasn't going to, that maybe I hadn't met the right girl, that maybe it was just a phase, all the cliché things," he recalls. His father, on the other hand, accepted it and reassured him that he loved him no matter what (he thinks his mom tipped his dad off.) Now, two years later, "My mom is not OK with it per se, but she's accepted it," he says. Striker is glad his mom is getting used to the idea, but advises parents against saying things like you haven't met the right girl/guy or maybe it's just a phase or it's going to be so hard. "It takes a lot of courage to say that you're gay to your parents, and to bring up all those clichés, it's like you're saying, 'You simply haven't thought this through.' Believe me, we've thought it through for hours on end," says Striker.
Justin, 19. New York City, came out when he was 13.
"It was pretty easy. My mom is a lesbian, so I had the whole acceptance thing," he says. "I have a lot of friends whose parents weren't accepting and they got kicked out and ended up homeless or having to leave because of the stress. Home is the one place you should feel safe, if you can't feel safe anywhere else-that's one thing my mother did for me."