This is all the stuff I’ve never said and I am a firm believer in denial. It’s kept me sane and safe for as long as I can remember. Although it’s tiring, I want to be able to walk down the street with a girl on my arm. I’m scared that if I come out, everyone will think it’s just a phase. (A family friend came out a few years ago then just recently married his girlfriend with a big “never mind I’m not gay.”) Don’t get me wrong, I want this to be a phase. I pray for it. Sometimes I even try to trick myself by pointing out hot guys and I wait for that sensation I get when I see a beautiful girl, but it never comes. I’m always telling myself next time, just one more, I need to find that one guy.
Then there’s my dad. He’s religious and the biggest homophobe I’ve ever seen. He can put Westborough Baptist Church to shame. Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less except he’s got a huge temper. He never hits though he’ll scream, and he’s threatened to kick me out before. I’m scared of throwing him over the edge. I don’t ever want to see that happen.
I go to a religious school. It’s all girls and it’s torture for me. There are no other gay or questioning kids (at least not out.) There is, of course, the occasional rumor but they have already graduated. I’m tired of living in silence and I feel my mind breaking. A few weeks ago I started cutting again. I haven’t resorted to that in years. I know I need help but there’s no LGBT center near me and it’s not like I can ask someone to drive me to New York. I just feel so alone, and it’s only making it worse.
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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. Questioning sexual orientation is very natural and common during the years in high school. In trying to understand your sexuality, it might help to remember that sexual orientation involves emotional, romantic, as well as physical feelings and attraction for people of both genders (bisexual), people of the same gender (lesbian and gay), and people of the opposite gender (heterosexual or straight). If you have an attraction to other girls, it’s important that you know that this is natural and normal.
Even though there is no LGBT center near you, there are plenty of resources that you can read online. On http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=730&Itemid=177 you’ll find the brochure “I Think I Might Be Lesbian…Now What Do I Do?” which may help you with your questions about your sexuality. PFLAG’s (Parents, Families & Friends Of Lesbians & Gays) ‘Be Yourself: Questions for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth’ at http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Be_Yourself_TT.pdf can be of further help as you try to understand your sexual orientation. You can also use Trevor Space for support and help with your questions – at www.trevorspace.org. It’s the Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 their friends and allies. It’s a great supportive community where you can connect with others who might have had or are having the same questions that you’re having about your sexuality.
It’s OK to take your time figuring out your sexuality. Coming out to family and friends 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 – It can let people in your life know about an important part of your life, it can help you to feel less alone, meet new friends, as well as possibly meet people to date. 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? Does it cause you a lot of stress worrying about people finding out? Are you worried that if you told your family or your friends, you’d be unsafe physically or emotionally?
You mentioned your concerns about your father. If you decided to tell him and he did kick you out, it would be important to have a safety plan, meaning a safe place where you could live and continue to go to school and a way to support yourself financially. Some people decide to wait until they are living away from home and are financially independent before telling members of their family about their sexual orientation/gender identity. If you feel now is the right time, that’s absolutely fine. What is most important is that you are comfortable and safe.
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 and/or friends 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.
You mentioned that you recently started cutting again. People cut as a way of dealing with or managing difficult, painful, overwhelming emotions or stress. For some, cutting relieves stress or tension or they find that the physical pain of cutting is a distraction from the emotional pain. Some people are angry at someone in their life and take the anger out on themselves by cutting. Others feel that the cutting gives them a feeling of control when things in the life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or “dead inside” and cutting helps them to feel alive. With the stress you’ve been experiencing in trying to figure out your sexual orientation, you may be experiencing some or all of these things. It’s important for you to know that cutting may help you to feel better briefly but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become as it can cause permanent scars, infections and serious, and sometimes life threatening medical problems especially if you cut a major blood vessel. It can also cause you to feel shame, guilt, depressed and out of control.
Here are some options to deal with the cutting: If you feel like cutting, there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before and after you cut yourself. If cutting helps to release anger, you might try getting the anger out in another way like hitting a pillow, stomping around in heavy shoes, ripping up an old newspaper or flattening aluminum cans. If cutting helps you when you’re sad, do whatever makes you feel taken care of and comforted. That may be listening to certain songs, calling a friend or eating a favorite food. Sometimes, writing in a journal or drawing/painting helps a person to feel better. For some people, doing something physical like running outdoors or yoga can help relieve stress. If the cutting helps you to feel less numb, do something that creates a sharp physical feeling like putting your hand briefly in ice water or stamp your feet on the ground). There are websites available including www.safe-alternatives.com and http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm that can help you learn about cutting as well as additional things you can do when you have the urge to cut.
It can be very difficult to stop cutting and it would be important to tell a trusted adult about the cutting in order for them to find a therapist for you to work with to find safer and healthier ways to deal with the hard things you’re going through. If you’re not comfortable talking with your parents, you could ask a school counselor for help finding a therapist or call 1-800-DON’T- CUT where you can be referred to a therapist in your area. When you have the urge to cut, you can always call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386) and talk with a Trevor lifeline counselor about what you’re feeling and experiencing as well as your urge to cut which can help to delay or stop the urge to cut. They can also work with you to find a therapist to help you.
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!