Well, to start off, I am gay and out to everyone I know (and a lot who I don’t know) all except my parents. I used to be the person with no friends and all that, but now I have a lot of friends. My parents are used to me not going out and I am 99% sure they suspect I am gay, but are in denial or think it’s a stage. They have been asking a lot of questions and being extra suspicious when I go out. I don’t know what to do. As much as I want to come out to them, I can’t tell them that I am going to a gay group. They can tell when I try to lie so I basically don’t know how I can attend these groups (there are a lot of support groups here in Chicago). I feel so alone if I don’t go out. What can I do?
Letter submitted by:
Thank you for your willingness to discuss your concerns with me. It is not always easy to talk about coming out to our family, nor is it pleasant to feel alone.
Coming out is your decision. What’s most important is that you are safe and comfortable! 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 parents? 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? If you told your parents, are you concerned that they might kick you out of the house? If you decided to tell them and they 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.
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/gender identity 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 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 won’t attend, you could still contact the nearest chapter and get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you.
Remember we are always here for you. The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR, TrevorChat, and TrevorSpace are also available to you for further support. TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org is 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 have discussed here.