My name is Esperanza. I’m 17 and I’m really confused about my situation of being bi-sexual or lesbian. I have been with my girlfriend for a year and a couple of months. I love her more than anything and she means the world to me and I want her only. I want to be with her for the rest of my life. I still check out guys and girls, but this part confuses me because I don’t see myself with a guy. Because of my past relationships I don’t want to go back to guys, period. I have had a girl call me out about being bi or lesbian. I don’t know what I am but she told me that I shouldn’t be with my girlfriend and that’s not what god wants and I’m committing a sin. I brushed it off and I can’t help but feel like I’m being judged for who I am. I want to say I’m lesbian but I’m scared to and I can’t tell if I am. I feel alone and that I have so many problems but I’m young and that’s what happens when you’re young, right? I also don’t know how to take criticism or weird looks aimed at me. I usually ignore them or don’t even notice because my friends support me and help me so much. Most of all I want to make my girlfriend happy. How can I if I don’t know if I’m bi or lesbian? I have come out about being bi-sexual with my girlfriend, and people look up to me, or think I’m brave for coming out but others don’t. I really don’t know how to explain how I feel but I think this can sum it up; loneliness, scared, happy in my relationship, feeling like no one cares sometimes and bottling up my emotions. I know I can go to my mom but it’s hard to talk to her. My mom and I have a good relationship but I still find it hard to talk to her about these kinds of problems. There is one last thing I would like to ask. How can I tell my family when they have seen and think I’m straight?
I hope you can help me Trevor because I’m so confused.
Your letter was such a pleasure to read. You have so many strengths along with what you perceive to be problems! You are so eloquently expressive of your feelings and can be very proud of that! I was certainly impressed with how sweetly expressive you are of your emotions and your current situation. You seem to have so many strengths that perhaps writing your emotions and thoughts in a journal regularly can be personally healing and clarifying for yourself. Later in time, read them to remind yourself just how far you have progressed over time. It’s called journaling!
Throughout your letter I hear you say how happy you are in your current relationship and that speaks volumes about who you are! Just continue being yourself. There is no need to have to define who you are to anyone you don’t feel comfortable in doing so. As you said, you are young so take your time in finding your way. Like all young adults, you have and will run into not so nice circumstances and people on occasion who don’t understand your feelings. You have your friends who you say help you by their support of who you are, that is awesome! Just remember there is no rush to figure out which label you feel most comfortable defining yourself as until you feel comfortable in doing so. There is also ‘Be Yourself: Questions for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth’ at http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Be_Yourself_TT.pdf that can be of further help as you try to understand your sexual orientation.
There is nothing wrong with, as you say, “checking out” the opposite sex or the same sex. Both are beautiful creations, as long as they are life-giving and bring you joy. You can still appreciate the beauty of others relatively close-in or at a distance without it being a commitment, shameful or something you should repress as though it were bad. Only repressed people tell you that you should not love and appreciate others, that it is sinful, but truly only you and your personal, internal god will know who or what is right for you! No one else can tell you or make up your mind for you! It is a very personal, intimate experience, one of the joys of being a human being! Even the journey of finding your way can be a very special, sacred, unique path filled with many ups and downs. No reason to ever give up or throw in the towel any step along the way. It all has growth potential. If you have one bad experience, try again in a different way or different direction until you find out what personally works for you. And remember one step at a time, one foot in front of the other taking down those issues that may seem like they are intimidating you, making you feel bad. We all get judged at the seemingly most inopportune times. We all feel scared when someone shuns us like we were diseased when we are not! Those are other peoples’ negative projections aimed towards us, to try to make us feel bad for what they are having a hard time understanding or dealing with inside of them. Don’t allow them to make you feel bad. Feel the feelings and move on to other more friendly, more welcoming people and subject matter for discussions. If you’d like to read more about various opinions regarding faith and sexual orientation, there is also a great resource online called The Institute for Welcoming Resources at http://www.welcomingresources.org/. It is the most comprehensive and up to date website devoted to providing religious and faith based resources for the LGBTQ community. You are never alone in their judgment of you, when you wrote they said, “that’s not what god wants and I’m committing a sin.” Many have been there in that uncomfortable, alone feeling; the key is to stand strong in your faith in love. You are an incredible example of pride when as you mentioned above that, “people look up to me, or think I’m brave for coming out.” You are young and on the right track, take your time, no rush to come out unless you are sure you are safe and comfortable. 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. Even if your family see and thinks you are straight, there are ways to transition their perceptions of you as you are comfortable in talking to them about it. It sounds like you really love your mom and want to be open with her as you are with your girlfriend. Some people are fine just saying their sexuality, talking about their feelings about it, 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. And there is an organization you may have heard of called PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends Of Lesbians & Gays) Your family and/or friends may have many questions about your sexuality once you do come out 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. 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 LGBTQ People,” which, if you’re comfortable, you can share with your family members and 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 LGBTQ 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 won’t attend, you could still contact the nearest chapter and get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you. TrevorSpace is also available to you. It is an online, social networking community for LGBTQ youth and young adults, ages 13-24, their friends and allies. Join the TrevorSpace.org. You can find others there of like mind and with concerns like yours as you reach out, make more virtual friends and check out their group discussions or create your own with questions similar to yours above.
Remember that there’s no rush to figure all this out. Just one step at a time weighing and balancing all the factors as you move ahead! The best way to make anyone else happy is for you to believe in you and for you be happy. Then you can truly share that happiness with those close in and special to you. And we are here for you 24/7 if you ever need us at www.The Trevor Project.org or Trevorlifeline at1(866)488-7386.