So this is going to be long, but whatever. So, it was some time ago that I realized that I was gay (probably a year ago). Currently, I am a high school student and 16 years old. In September of 2012, I came out to my friends using the custom settings on Facebook because I wanted to start off the school year not having to hide any aspect of my life. So, since then it is now January, and I have still not talked to my family. It is getting the best of me as it’s all I can ever think about. The thing is, I want to tell my family I just don’t know how to or how well they will react. This is just not something that really happens in my family. Especially my Dad, he’s this big macho manly guy and somehow I feel like I would be letting him down. Society has this twisted man & women ideal of what marriage is, and it’s taken me a long time to even be not totally ashamed of myself. I know right now, even with my friends support (which I don’t really have that many) it still feels like I’m all alone in this. I really don’t know what to do. Should I come out? How can I approach it if so? I just am so confused. It was a really tough year in 2012, and I am sick of pretending to be someone I’m not, but things would be really weird around here if coming out were to go wrong.
In advance, thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this.
It really means a lot.
I’m really glad that you wrote to Ask Trevor with your questions and concerns. It may make you feel better to know that there are probably other people in your school feeling the same way. Even if you have already come out to friends, coming out to family is a very personal decision and everyone has a different time when they are ready and it feels right. It’s totally your decision and if you feel now is the right time, that’s absolutely fine. If it is not the right time, that’s fine too! What is most important is that you feel safe and comfortable telling the people who you care about. There are many positives to coming out to family. Most importantly, it can let your family know about an important part of your life and who you really are. In trying to figure out whether or not to come out, it can help to ask yourself some questions including: What does it feel like keeping this part of your life a secret from your family? Does it cause you a lot of stress worrying about them finding out? Are you worried that if you told your family you’d be unsafe physically or emotionally?
Some people are fine just saying their sexuality while others find it better to ease into the discussion by first talking about a LGBT actor or character in a movie, book or television show and see how the people in their life react. You might find it helpful to write out and rehearse things you might say. You might find the Human Rights Campaign’s “Resource Guide to Coming Out” at http://www.hrc.org/documents/resourceguide_co.pdf helpful. In addition, on http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/youthresource/comingoutquestions you’ll find an article called “Coming Out to Your Parents: Questions to Think About” which may be of help to you.
Your family may have many questions about your sexuality and may need time and help to become more understanding and supportive of you. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a great organization, made up mostly of parents, which supports LGBTQ people and works to help parents and others to become more supportive and accepting of their loved one’s sexual orientation/gender identity. On their website at www.pflag.org click on “Get Support” then click on “For Family & Friends” where you’ll find the pamphlets “Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People” and “Frequently Asked Questions about GLBT People,” which, if you’re comfortable, you can share with your family members/friends to help them become more understanding and accepting of you. PFLAG also runs support groups where parents and others can discuss questions and concerns they have about a loved one’s sexual orientation and where LGBT people can discuss issues they’re having with people in their life. On their website, you can search for a chapter near you. If no chapter is near you or if your family members/friends won’t attend, you could still contact the nearest chapter and get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you. Other resources you might share with them are the books “Now That You Know – A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children” which addresses many issues and questions that arise for parents of gay and lesbian children and “Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together.” There are no guarantees but they may help.
If you have any questions in the future please feel free to use Ask Trevor again or The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR, TrevorChat, or TrevorSpace. We are always here for you!