It’s February 2013, about 14 months after I came out to my parents.
They were mad and extremely disappointed. They still are.
There have been some family gatherings going on for the past few weeks and apparently some of my relatives notice some changes in my ‘behaviour’. Thus, they told my parents and claimed that they were concerned about me.
A few hours ago, my parents told me about how the ‘news’ is spreading among my relatives and basically gave me the whole preaching about my being gay.
They told me that I shouldn’t be closing my heart and mind to the possibility of my changing, i.e. liking girls; that I should open my mind and at least try to change. They told me that it’s not normal and I have to follow the right path, and go to the church more often, because I have to believe that God is there, watching over me. They called me arrogant for not trying to listen to them just because it’s not beneficial for me.
They told me that my friends who are okay with my being gay are merely trying to make me to jump off a cliff. They said that once we grow up, these friends will leave me and I will be alone. They said that my friends know nothing about life, that they just feel bad about me and inside they actually think that it’s wrong. They asked me why do I believe in what my ‘friends’ said, when it is wrong, instead of what they’ve been saying to me, which is the right path – the path to become ‘normal’. They accused me of being attracted to every single of my guy friends, especially some of my best friends.
They said that if I keep on being gay, I will be alone in the future, friendless and childless. That everyone would leave me because of my homosexuality, and that I just ‘can’t live that way.’
They gave me an ultimatum that if I don’t change, they will cut me off and disown me. They want me to show them that I have a girlfriend as soon as possible. They wouldn’t listen to whatever I told them. They want me to keep my distance from anything that reeks of homosexuality, which includes the gym.
“Your parents will change” means nothing to me, because my family is very religious and that nothing will convince them to change. So please don’t tell me that.
Please guys, I don’t want you to badmouth my parents, but I need all the comfort you can offer, please. I can’t stop crying and I can’t think clearly. I need anyone to help me so I won’t do anything stupid. There isn’t such a thing as a help-line for LGBTQ youths like the Trevor Project in my country.
I need help.
Letter submitted by:
I’m so sorry that you find yourself in such a tough situation. But the fact that you felt so strongly (and rightly so!) that it was important to bravely begin forging your own true identity by coming out to your parents– even though you’re at an age where you’re not financially independent of them, and even knowing that there was a strong chance, given their religious beliefs, that they might not be supportive– indicates that you can count on your bravery to help you deal with this difficult time now. What’s more, you write so perceptively about yourself and your circumstances that it seems clear that you can also count on your intelligence and resourcefulness in working things out.
I’m not sure that I have enough information about you to help you as fully as I’d like to at this point. I do have some thoughts, though. But before I suggest what I think can be helpful, let me first suggest a couple of sources of outside help. Though you say that there isn’t a help-line like the Trevor Project’s Lifeline available to you in your country, have you thought about calling Trevor’s own lifeline, in the U.S.? The number is 866-4-U-TREVOR (ie, 866-488-7386). It’s available 24/7 and it’s free. As you yourself suspect, talking through your situation with a knowledgeable, compassionate person will be very, very helpful. You can also continue to write to us at the Project. The more we know, the more we can help, and the better you will feel. I know it.
You say that you have friends who know you are gay and are okay with it. Are any of them gay themselves? If so, do you think that one or more of them might be knowledgeable enough to give you some good advice? Is there an older gay person that you know that you might talk to? Someone who’s been through some of the difficulties you’re experiencing can be hugely helpful.
Advising you on how to deal, right now, with your parents’ ultimatums isn’t entirely clear without knowing some specifics of your living and financial situation, like whether you live at home or not, whether you are a student, whether you have a job, and how much you are dependent on your family financially. Can you tell us more about these things?
Here are some things that seem clear, though. The family gatherings you speak of have made not only you but also your parents more uncomfortable than they were already. And having gone through the tough process of coming out to them, you definitely do not want to go backwards by pretending for their sake that you may not be gay after all or that your sexual orientation may change. You can, though, tell your parents without betraying your true self that you need some time to think about what they are asking. And that it would be unfair to any girl to try to establish a relationship with her just now, given what your feelings are currently. What’s more, you can let them know (regardless of your own feelings about religion), that their beliefs must assure them that God watches over all of us wherever we may be, not only in church.
And, especially if you need your parents’ financial support, you might consider trying to make them feel better by letting them know that you yourself are thinking hard about trying to do the right thing, but that it’s a difficult process and will take some time. And that is the truth, isn’t it?
These are the things that it will be helpful to think about further and talk about at greater length with a sympathetic and knowledgeable friend or other source, absolutely including the Trevor Project.
As for some of the things your parents have accused you of: Remember that they may not be as knowledgeable about the world of a 21-year-old as they think they are– though you don’t have to tell them that! Accusing you of being attracted to every one of your guy friends? Well, I’m sure you know that at 21, male hormones are raging and almost any male can look attractive to you! Big deal! As for their saying that your future will be friendless and childless? Well, you’re reaching adulthood in a wonderfully changing world– a world in which no gay person need be alone or friendless. Or even childless, in fact, if you don’t want to be. Googling will reveal just how many places in the world are coming around to countenancing adoption by gay men and lesbians.
In the meantime, if you feel like crying, well go ahead and cry! Get it out. Nothing wrong with that. But sit back too, take some deep breaths and don’t rush into anything. Use the smarts that you show in your letter and start to think about how you want to proceed. Phone the Trevor Lifeline (again: that’s 866-488-7386, available 24/7). Or write again.
You’ll make it. Everything about the way you size up your situation and express yourself indicates that you will.
The Trevor Project