Hi. I’m a 14 year old girl and I’m bi. I’ve told my sister but she doesn’t really seem to believe me although she’s completely OK with gay people. I think that she just thinks I’m confused. My parents are very anti-gay because they are very religious. I’m kind of planning to stay in the closet until I’m 18 and then I can move to a different state or something and never talk to my family again. I’m pretty sure that if I came out to my parents know, I would get kicked out and I don’t know where I would stay.
Thank you so much for taking the time to submit your letter. That took a lot of courage! Coming out can be a very scary process, especially when it involves loved ones (i.e. immediate family members). I want to reassure you that your feelings are completely valid and often commonly associated with coming out. Coming out can let the 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. The most important thing to remember is that whenever and however you wish to come out is completely your decision. Make sure 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? Does it cause you a lot of stress worrying about them finding out? Are you worried that if you told your family or your friends, 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 prepared, 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 talking with others about their sexual orientation / gender identity, while others find it better to ease into the discussion by first talking about a LGBTQ 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 that you might say. You may find the Human Right’s Campaign’s “Resource Guide to Coming Out” at http://www.hrc.org/files/documents/ComingOut_ResourceGuide.pdf helpful. In addition, on http://amplifyyourvoice.org/youthresource/youthresource-comingout you’ll find an article called “Coming Out to Your Parents: Questions to Think About” which may be of help to you. Also if you have time check out this article http://www.affirmation.org/youth/coming_out.pdf.
Resources that may be worth noting for family members / friends to help them with questions that they might have include the organization PFLAG. Your family members / friends 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 other become more supportive and accepting of their loved one’s sexual orientation/ gender identity. Resources can be found on their national website www.pflag.org. 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” and “Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keep Families Together.” There are no guarantees but they may help.
Again I want to thank you for your courage to submit your letter and reassure you that your feelings of being scared are completely valid. Lastly I want to suggest another wonderful resource available to you, it is called TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org. It’s the Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ young people 13-24 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 may have.