Sometimes, you have to come out to your parents with a Google Slides presentation. Well, it’s not that you have to come out to your parents or that you have to make a slide deck, but when you’ve been in the closet for so long it almost feels like you have to make a moment of the occasion. It did for me, at least. I needed something that reinforced my identity, meshed well with our communication styles and reminded them that I am still the same person… just with some additional perks.
Something like a decent but not over-the-top slide deck with basic animations and a default theme converted to a rainbow color scheme. (Graphic design is my passion!)
It began with a Google Calendar invite to both of my parents, though if you prefer iCal or Outlook I’m sure you could transpose this to any operating system.
Mom: Why did you call a family meeting with just me and your dad? Should I be worried?
Me: No, it’s fine but I can’t tell you what it’s about that defeats the purpose of the presentation.
Mom: Is this good news or bad news?
Me: I mean that kind of depends on you, tbh. So, uh, be in a good mood.
Naturally, I queued up “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross as the title flew onto the screen.
Upon stating my thesis, I outlined the assumptions I made of my audience, before diving into the foundation of my argument.
It was not surprising. Let’s just say once you start shaving parts of your head and bleaching and dying with reckless abandon, people begin to connect dots even if they don’t see the larger picture.
I came out to one sister over a phone call, before sending her a copy of the slide deck:
Me: Hey, you know I’m gay, right?
Her: I mean I assumed everyone is a little gay.
Me: No, I’m like Gay gay.
Her: Oh, hundred percent?
Me: Hundo P.
It turns out you can just start calling yourself gay; there isn’t a formal test. While taking online “How To Tell If You’re Gay” quizzes are a staple of the community, apparently all it takes to be A Lesbian is call yourself a lesbian. There isn’t even an initiation process where you must be invited in by a member in good standing, who knew?
I came out to my brother while he was putting Christmas decorations away into the attic:
Me: Hey, you know I’m gay, right?
Him: Yeah… I kind of figured… It’s in your TikTok bio.
Me: Yeah, that would give it away.
Him: There’s a lot of gay people on your For You Page.
Me: Yeah I was wondering if you would catch that.
I sent him the slide deck at a later time.
Conveying tone is an important aspect of the written word. I elected to state my Coming Out as the obvious conclusion of a lifetime of sufficiently gay evidence, and assuming I was straight was an active choice by my parents to ignore the life experiences laid out before them.
I sat down with my other brother to catch up over dinner one night and Came Out before sharing the presentation.
Me: Hey, you know I’m gay, right?
Him: Fascinating… like bisexual or lesbian?
Him: How long have you known?
Me: OH let me show you the slide deck! You know, Dad bought me a bottle of wine.
Him: Am I supposed to get you a gift?
Me: I mean…
Him: No, wait here.
He returned with an unopened bottle of pink-lemonade vodka, “oh it’s even pink so it matches!” (He also gave me a machete: Allies take notes.)
Mom: Wait not all of your friends are gay, isn’t Rachel is marrying a man?
Me: Please hold all questions* until the end of the presentation, thank you.
The use of a slide deck kept the conversation focused on the important information.
I forgot about the last bullet point when I sent it to Victoria, and she was very concerned that she accidentally committed a homophobia, but I assured her this was not the case. It just felt homophobic at the time.
Dad: How is Curb Your Enthusiasm homophobic?
Me: Again all questions at the end of the presentation, thank you.
All good meetings have two inherent qualities: They wrap up within an hour and they have clearly articulated conclusions/actionable objectives. This meeting was no exception. Its closing reaffirmed that this was a net positive interaction for all involved and laid out the rules of engagement for future familial interactions.
I came out to one of my sisters as ambiguously queer a few years back, and she was forwarded this presentation by another sibling.
Her: I saw your slide deck and I have feedback. Would you like to hear it?
Her: You omitted several things from the presentation regarding the signs we should have known you were gay:
1. When you wore overalls in the family photos
2. When you told me you were bisexual in my own house
3. When you started playing Dungeons & Dragons, which is kind of a big one. (Note: my sister actively works to know as little as she can about D&D and has surmised with what scant information she has that it’s just very gay, which is correct.)
4. You never dated a guy in college once, in high school, or now
The initial presentation for my parents happened on a random Tuesday evening because I made the slide deck late the previous night. Nothing actively precipitated this event. No impending relationship, no major life changes. I had been thinking of it on and off for a while, and it didn’t seem worth the energy to hide a part of myself if I didn’t have to. Once I got the idea to make a slide deck, I realized I had to work quickly because if I invested more than about an hour in the whole presentation I would feel a responsibility to make it look better as someone with an undergraduate degree in making things look nice.
Got it done in a cool 45 minutes, like a professional.
Last but not least, I opened the floor to clearly and honestly respond to any questions they had about me or the LGBTQ community as a whole, since by coming out I had ordained myself an authority of all queer things, if just for that moment. (*This is also where I explained the concepts of bi- and pansexuality, non-binary genders, and other terms under the greater queer umbrella.)
Me: It’s not a big deal though, since gender is inherently performative anyway.
Mom: What does that even mean?
Me: That’s a whole nother slide deck. We can’t get into that today.
Queerness and “coming out” are very personal experiences, each of which is shaped by our individual understanding of gender and sexuality and the relationships with those around us. I approached coming out as many people approach their wedding day: something that is designated “for me” in name, but also a performance in service of my loved ones. It was right for me. Using a slide deck allowed me to take control of a potentially awkward conversation, clarify in straightforward terms what I anticipated from them and use the simultaneous absurdity and aggressively on-branded-ness of the presentation format to add humor to the situation.
My sister asked if I wanted to come out to her husband as well.
Me: “Oh, well if it’s important to have a one-on-one conversation I’m happy to do that, but you can just tell him if you want.”
Her: “Yeah, oh wait! I’ll just forward him the slide deck, if that’s okay?”
Honestly, it was more than okay. It was efficient.
As the artist behind this piece, I recommend you view the original slide deck with animations. It adds a level of depth to the viewing experience. I used to make PowerPoint presentations for my Christmas list and added “proficiency with Microsoft Office” to the resume I made in Word before I was old enough to legally hold a job; this was nothing if not a natural extension of my preferred form of communication. It was fun to make, it was convenient and it was just self-aware enough to feel appropriate for me.
The myriad of situations in which one may find themselves coming out is as varied as the connections they have with each person they meet. I feel extremely fortunate that I could control the narrative with the most important people in my life and find acceptance at its conclusion. Not to mention that I could immediately follow the presentation with something along the lines of “If you want to be a good ally you should buy me rainbow cupcakes.” They did.
After the Q&A portion finished, my dad asked what I would have done if I thought they would have responded negatively.
In response I said, “Oh, I simply would not have come out to you.”