So the way I came out was very a uncommon and unique (and unfortunate) circumstance. Not to sound like a broken record, but the full story will be in my upcoming book. Actually that chapter is the longest chapter which currently clocks in at over 10,000 words. I'll need to do some editing on that one.
Anyway, I won't go into full details here, but at age 17, I was basically forced out of the closet to my parents. It was awful. Prior to that , at age 15, I did come out (on my will) to my oldest sister (12 years older). She had always been like a third parent to me.
That did not go well either. She was not prepared for this information and just felt I was too young. But I didn't regret it. And secretly, she was amazing about it. She purchased books on how to learn about "homosexuals" and educated herself. By the time I did come out to my parents, she was my biggest advocate.
Everyone's coming out is entirely different. It can be terrifying. But you have to do what is right for you. A lot of people say that if you don't come out, you are not being honest with yourself and you are living a lie and that YOU MUST COME OUT! I don't completely agree with this kind of thinking. With no two scenarios being alike, it's easy for some to say things like this without understanding what someone else's situation is like.
Here is what I recommend. Sit down and make a list of possible responses (good and bad) your parents might have when coming out to them. Then take that list and arrange it in order from most likely response to least likely response. This should give you a clearer picture of what to potentially expect based on your relationship with your parents.
Then do a cost/benefit analysis. By being in the closet, you say you feel like you aren't being honest with yourself. Which do you feel might be worse? Your parents response? Or how you will feel if you continue to stay in the closet? If it is the former, then wait to come out until your scenario with them has changed. If it is the latter, then go ahead and come out. (Side note: if you feel like there is a potential for violence or abuse to occur, do not come out. Wait until you can be in a safe place in your life.)
As for the actual process of doing it, I've learned it's best to be active about it, and not passive. What I mean is don't leave little clues around expecting them to pick up on it. That is just going to make things more awkward and aggravating. The more straight forward you can be, the better.
It's like that band-aid analogy. If you rip it off really fast, it will hurt more at first, but the pain will go away quicker. If you try and pull it off slowly, the pain will seem less, but it will last longer.
Find the right time to sit down with them so that they have plenty of time to talk and ask questions (i.e. don't drop the bomb right before going out to a birthday dinner or something). Feel free to use a safe language, but don't overly sugar coat it so they accidentally don't understand what you're trying to say. Don't be upset with them if they get upset. Be empathetic. It can be confusing information for some people. Patience, love, and grace will get you much further than being defensive.
I know it sounds scary, but if your cost/benefit analysis makes it seem like coming out is an okay move for you at this point in your life, then push past the fear. Fear is what stops us from living a fuller life. Remember that being brave is NOT about "not being afraid." It is about being afraid and doing it anyway.