Well I’ve been out of the closet for about a whole year now, but I’ve always kinda been bothered by the fact that I was “forced out of the closet” by my mother who claimed she knew I was gay, but my dad did not take a liking to his only son being gay and still treats me as if I’m not. It probably didn’t help that he sat down and told me he considered kicking me out and still thinks about it even knowing my mom, however, is perfectly fine with it.
I guess my problem is the way my parents have me hide my sexuality around the rest of my family (i.e., cousins, aunts, and uncles) and their friends. I don’t do this because I think it’s stupid to hide my sexuality, but I don’t want to make a big deal about it either if they did happen to find out. All my friends at school practically grovel at my feet because I’m so open about being gay, but my parents give off the “I’ll punish you if you tell them” message.
Is there any way to tell someone your gay and for it not to escalate into something that shouldn’t even be a problem in the first place?
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Even though it was not planned and you were “forced” to come out, it takes real courage and self-confidence to be yourself and let others know who you are, and as you know, not everyone understands or respects that initially. You must be very comfortable with yourself to be so open with your friends at school, and for that I applaud you. I am glad you are reaching out to us at the Trevor Project. You are completely right—being gay is not a problem at all, and it is an important part of who you are and what makes you so unique and beautiful!
It can be frustrating when people you love don’t accept everything about you or let you be yourself—especially when those people are your parents. Sometimes parents can have a hard time coming to terms with it if it takes them by surprise or changes the plans they had for you. They may even say or do things that seem hurtful to you in order to protect you from danger or judgment they believe you will endure as a consequence. Even though it has been a whole year, sometimes parents need more time than others to process and come to terms with it. The most important part is to make sure you have someone you can trust and talk to openly when things get rough. It sounds like you have very supportive friends at school you can talk to. It also sounds like your mom is accepting and supportive of you, which is a wonderful thing. Remember, you can always talk to us here at Trevor by visiting our website www.thetrevorproject.org or through the Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR.
Coming out can be tricky and complicated, especially when it comes to family. Sometimes coming out to your relatives can be a great thing if they support you and stand by you. It’s hard to say what the “right” way to come out is since you never know how people will react. There are no guarantees that it will not become a big deal, and only you can decide if it is something you need to do or whether it would be better to wait. While it can feel disheartening to have to keep your sexuality a secret around your family, you may want to ask yourself this: Are you worried that if you told your family, you’d be unsafe physically or emotionally? Would your parents get angry or kick you out if you told your cousins, aunts, and uncles? This is something you might want to think carefully about before you decide what to do. If there is ever a risk of being kicked out, you should make sure to have a safety plan in place so that you have a safe place to live and support yourself. If you do decide to tell the rest of your family, one possible way to avoid them making a big deal out of it is to simply be honest and tell them you would appreciate it if they did not make it into a big deal. But be sensitive to the fact that it might take them by surprise, and they might need time to fully absorb and understand your message. You can find really helpful advice on deciding when and how to come out in the Human Rights Campaign resource guide, http://issuu.com/humanrightscampaign/docs/comingout_resourceguide. There are also some great resources out there you may want to share with your parents to help them with questions they might have. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a great organization that works to help parents and others become more supportive and accepting of their loved ones’ sexual orientation or gender identity (www.pflag.org). They have a great resource called “Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People” which can be found on their resource page for families and friends, http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid=539. Other helpful resources you might want to share with them are books called “Now That You Know—A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children” and “Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together.” These books address issues and questions parents may have regarding their gay and lesbian children. Just keep in mind that every person has their own way of coping and processing information, and the most important thing of all is that you are happy and accepting of yourself. Remember, the Trevor Project is always here to support you, and we wish you the best!