Some people summon the courage to come out to their parents in their 20s, maybe their 30s or 40s. Others never find a way to say the words. If your child is telling you he or she is gay, you can be sure of a few things: Your child has struggled, is frightened and has decided to trust.
He or she has also probably practiced the words over and over, so listen to them. Hear them. Don't interrupt. Take the words in and think about what your child is telling you before you react, because underneath the ostensible message that your child is gay is the undeniable subtext: I need you to support me in this.
If you can, do that as soon as your child finishes speaking. A hug is a good start. Words of encouragement, such as "That's perfectly fine by me" or "All I care about is that you're happy," are good responses, too.
If you find that your mixed feelings make that kind of prompt support difficult (which is natural and fairly common), then do the next best thing: Say "I love you."
And then, begin working toward the level of support your child needs from you …