You Need Help: Can I Date While Living With My Homophobic Parents?


Hello! For a bit of background, I’m still relatively young and haven’t moved away from my parents yet. A few months back they decided to move to a more rural area, which meant that I had to move with them. Due to a vast number of factors that I won’t get into I was never really able to explore the dating pool and figure out who I am when I was in school, so I was thinking about trying to use this opportunity to put myself out there. I’m worried about the idea of attempting to date anyone, especially another woman, in a place like this because the politics are noticeably skewed to the right around here and I don’t want to cause myself or any potential partners harm. Coming out to my family isn’t an option. Is it worth the risk, and if so what can I do to keep myself and other people safe in the event that I do decide to test the waters? Sorry if this was long-winded!


Hi friend! Just so you know, this wasn’t long-winded in the slightest, and I’m so glad you wrote to us!

It’s exciting that you’re starting to feel like you might be ready to test the waters, dating-wise! While it’s true that there are very few places entirely free of homophobia in 2023, and you’re much more of an expert on wherever you live than I can be, I’m honestly less worried about the rural area you’re living in than I am about the situation you’re in with your parents. In this Tinder world, finding dates solely from within a community of other queer people, without outing yourself to people who aren’t queer, is super doable. And if you do match with someone sweet, dating discreetly enough that the local homophobes don’t necessarily recognize the public parts of your dates for what they are can be pretty easy to do. Finally, while our lives are never wholly without danger, the possibility of a bad outcome if a homophobic stranger does recognize that you’re on a date is probably fairly statistically low within most parts of the US.

But then there’s your family and your living situation. You say that coming out to your parents isn’t an option, and that’s totally valid. You’ve asked whether the possibility of being discovered is worth the risk. I don’t have enough information to give you a yes or no on that, but I do think that you can make your own risk/benefit analysis.

I’m curious: what is likely to happen if your parents did find out you had been dating somebody, or found out you weren’t straight? Do you believe that you could suddenly find yourself without the material support (housing, shelter, etc) that your parents currently provide? If so, do you have a means of supporting yourself, or do you have any other support systems in place besides your parents, like relatives who are more queer-friendly, or close friends who have their adult lives together?

Essentially, if being kicked out and finding yourself without a place to stay seems to be a likely scenario, then I’d suggest that you put off dating a little bit longer and shift your immediate focus to putting plans in place that will change your living situation and remove your parents as your primary source of support. Since you’ve finished school, that might look like finding a job and starting to quietly put money into a Moving Out fund. Looking through Craigslist in your area (or the area you used to live, if you liked that better) will show you what kind of housing options are out there, and whether people are looking for roommates. Essentially, this will be a good time to start to envision what you’d like the next stage of your life to look like, and to do some research on what’s attainable!

I also think that doing some queer community building will be important. If you don’t already have supportive queer friends, I think it’s time to meet some! Depending on what’s available in your town and how much your parents like to creep on your activities, you might start by reaching out to a local LGBTQ+ center (there may be one in a neighboring town if there’s not one where you live), either in person or online. There are also less overt places where you might meet other queer people, like volunteering at roller derby, signing up for a recreational softball league, taking your dog to the dog park, joining an RPG at a comic shop… there are a lot of possibilities out there! While dating is wonderful, making good friends, both queer and queer-friendly, can make a huge difference in what feels possible at the stage of life you’re in, and having community around you will help you immensely when you start to jump into the life you want to live!

Bottom line? Dating can be amazing and wonderful, and I don’t want to discourage you from pursuing it if you feel ready, or if you have very little to lose. But if you do currently rely on homophobic parents for their material support, I think that you’re right to be a little wary! If that’s the situation you find yourself in, I think that focusing on building the next stage of your life, one where you are less dependent on your parents, will be vitally important before you jump all the way into the dating world.

I wish you the very best! 💙

You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.

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Darcy, a.k.a. Queer Girl, is your number one fan. They're a fat feminist from California who doodles hearts in the corners of their Gay Agenda. They're living through a pandemic, they're on Twitter, and they think you should drink more water! They also wanna make you laugh.

Darcy has written 376 articles for us.


  1. I live with a parent and am not out (and actively secret dating for several years). I agree that preparing an exit plan is an important priority. But i do think that being seen and getting to explore my sexuality was really important for keeping me sane(ish haha) all these years when i have to mute my authentic self on a daily basis. I think it’s possible to work on financial stability and date! BUT you have to be upfront from the get go about how serious you are or are not ready to get.

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