I am in the 8th grade. I’ve always known I was gay, but admitted it to myself about a year ago. I’ve been writing in a diary, and I caught my mom reading it. That means she knows I’m gay. My mom is the most homophobic person I have ever met. She knows I caught her but hasn’t said anything. That’s what hurts me the most. She knows I feel terrible about myself and still has said and done nothing. I haven’t come out to anyone ever but its pretty obvious by looking at me that I’m gay. I really want to talk to someone but I feel alone in every way. I’ve been going through my life feeling worse and worse everyday. I’m at my breaking point.
You’re not alone. We get a lot of letters like yours, and you should be proud of yourself for taking the right step in reaching out to talk about your situation. Coming out is difficult for many people — even for people that consider themselves to be obviously gay — and this is particularly the case when close family members have expressed their anti-gay feelings clear in advance, making it hard for you to feel free to talk about it. It’s stifling. That said, being in your situation, unfortunately, is common.
But there is good news here. The fact that there are a lot of other people in your situation means that they’re out there, right now, just waiting for you to meet them. It helps to have someone else like you to compare notes with. A fantastic way to find these people is on TrevorSpace. Have you heard of it? You can make an online profile for yourself and meet other people who are just like you. Check it out: http://www.trevorspace.org/. There are so many others out there, and some of them, I’m sure, have just come out to their own homophobic mothers. Some of them may have even done so involuntarily like you.
Your mom probably shouldn’t have been reading your private diary, but this might actually help explain why she hasn’t spoken to you about it yet. Your mom, conceivably, is a bit embarrassed by having been caught snooping through your things. Your mom might also be surprised or in shock. You might seem stereotypically gay, as you suggest, but that doesn’t mean your mom figured it out on her own. It might be that the diary confirmed it for her, and she is now still trying to get over it. Another reason she may not have spoken to you about it yet is because she may have decided to give you time so as to let you be the one who brings it up to her. If that’s the case, then the current situation would be that you’re both secretly waiting for the other one to bring it up.
The key point here is that although your mom might well know that you feel terrible about the situation, she probably has some pretty good reasons for holding out. Maybe she’s shocked, maybe she’s embarrassed, maybe she wants to give you the chance to be the one who brings it up to her, or maybe it’s some combination of the above. It’s highly unlikely that your mom realizes just how bad you feel or just how badly you’d prefer for her to bring it up to you.
In trying to figure out whether or not to be the one who brings it up first, you might ask yourself questions about how you feel delaying the conversation, as well as how you think the conversation would go. You might ask yourself: How sure are you that she definitely read the right pages and knows for sure by now? What does it feel like keeping this part of your life a secret? Does it cause you a lot of stress worrying about other people finding out? Are you worried that if you discussed it, you’d be unsafe physically or emotionally? Are you concerned that mom might kick you out of the house?
(By the way, if your answer to that last one is yes, it would be important to have a safety plan, like having 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 discussing this issue with members of their family.)
If you feel now is the right time, that’s absolutely fine. What is most important is that you are comfortable and safe. One way to bring the issue up would be to ask her if she remembers the day she found your diary. This could open the door to the bigger conversation by indicating to her that you’re ready for her to discuss the issue with her. Another way to bring up the issue generally is to ease into the discussion by first talking about a gay or lesbian celebrity. You might find it helpful to write out and rehearse things you might say.
I’ll confess that some of these ideas are unoriginal. In fact, there are a lot of other ways you can approach this. If you want more ideas to think about, you might consider checking out these two links (one is an article and one is a “guide” to coming out): http://amplifyyourvoice.org/youthresource/youthresource-comingoutand http://www.hrc.org/files/documents/ComingOut_ResourceGuide.pdf.
One more thing to keep in the back of your mind. Although your mom may have said bad things about gay people generally, or even about the possibility of you being gay specifically, and even though it really hurts to hear your mom — of all people — saying these things, the truth is that she’s only human, and she’s been taught by society and her upbringings to have her homophobic feelings. As society is beginning to recognize, one’s homophobic upbringings do not justify continuing to be homophobic in this day and age. It’s not okay for your mom to be homophobic. But society is changing whether or not your mom changes with it. No matter what, things will get better for you because society in general is becoming more accepting.
I trust that you already know about LifeLine and TrevorChat. If you ever feel like you just can’t take it anymore, message us on TrevorChat or call us at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR and we’ll talk you through it. Feel free to update us here on AskTrevor as well. We love hearing from you.
Good luck with mom.
Sincerely, Trevor Staff