Hi, my name is Kiera and I’m bisexual. I’ve known about my sexuality since I was a kid in preschool I even had my first girlfriend and boyfriend. When I realized what I felt toward both genders I knew I had to keep it a secret. I even tried to pray it away. I wanted god to know that I’d do anything as long as he would take away these feelings because I knew no one would accept me. I am now a freshman in High school and I’ll be turning 15 in just a few days. I recently came out to some of my friends and they still love me just the same. They don’t treat me any different and I am grateful. I haven’t told any family members. I am 75% positive that I will be kicked out or hit or cursed out and maybe even taken to church so they can pray it away. Keeping this secret is killing me on the inside and I cry almost every day. I said I’d wait to tell them until I was on my own and able to support myself. I might not last that long. I have had trouble with depression, anxiety and self-harm since the 4th grade and I stopped cutting in the 7th grade and I’ve been in recovery ever since. I feel myself losing control. I’m not sure what I hoped to gain from typing this letter. Can someone give me advice? Support? Reassurance that I’m not making a mistake by staying in the “closet”, Help me please.
Letter submitted by:
You are truly an AMAZING person, someone who knew her sexuality in preschool, is open to loving other people, had the strength and courage to come out to her friends and who is thinking through whether or not to come out to her family. It’s great that your friends have been so supportive, accepting and loving of you. Having those types of friends can be very helpful as you decide whether or not to tell your family about your sexuality.You questioned what you have to gain by typing your letter. Reaching out for support can often help you feel less alone and to see choices and options that you may not be aware that you have. I’m so glad that you found The Trevor Project and that you wrote Ask Trevor for support and help.
Please know that it is ultimately your decision whether or not you choose to come out to your family and what’s most important is that you feel safe and comfortable. It’s very natural to want to tell your parents about your sexual orientation as it allows them to know about an important part of your life. Coming out can also help you feel less alone, make new friends, and eventually meet people to date. It’s completely understandable that you’d be worried about coming out to your family members when you’re 75% positive that you’ll be kicked out, hit, cursed out and maybe even taken to church so they can pray it away. Given that their possible reactions sound very hurtful and unsafe, you show how incredibly smart you are in thinking through whether or not to come out to them. Though you said that keeping your sexuality a secret is killing you and causing you to cry every day, in trying to figure out whether or not to come out, in addition to what you’re going through, it would also be important to consider your family’s possible reaction and from what you’ve said, their reaction could put you in a physically and emotionally unsafe space. You said that if you told your parents, you’re concerned that they might kick you out of the house. 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. 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. On http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/gay-and-lesbian-well-being/201103/should-you-come-out-your-parents you’ll find the article “Should You Come Out to Your Parents?” and on http://www.hrc.org/files/documents/ComingOut_ResourceGuide.pdf you’ll find the resource guide to coming out which may be of help. If you feel now is not the right time, that’s absolutely fine. What is most important is that you are comfortable and safe.
Sometimes family members who have difficulty with a loved one’s sexual can, with help, move to a more supportive place.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 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. You can learn more about the PFLAG Detroit chapter by calling 248-656-2875, emailing them at email@example.com or visiting their website at http://www.pflagdetroit.org/. If your family members won’t attend, you could still contact them to get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you. 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” which addresses many issues and questions that arise for parents of gay and lesbian children and “Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together.” There are no guarantees but they may help.
It sounds like everything you’re dealing with is causing you a lot of stress. It’s concerning when you said that you may “not last that long.” If this means that you’re thinking of ending your life, it’s very important for your safety that you immediately tell a trusted adult such as a parent, friend’s parent, relative, teacher, school counselor or doctor about these thoughts in order to keep you safe. When you have this discussion, you don’t need to talk about your sexuality if you don’t feel comfortable. If you ever feel you’re going to act again on thoughts of ending your life, immediately call 911 or get to your nearest hospital emergency room because what’s most important is your safety. If there’s no one you feel comfortable talking with or would like more support, you could call the Trevor lifeline at 1-866-4-U-Trevor(1-866-488-7386), 24 hours 7 days a week. Our caring, understanding and supportive counselors are here to talk with you about everything you’re feeling and going through and want to do whatever is needed to keep you safe. Since you’re going through such as a stressful time and have experienced depression and anxiety in the past, it might help you to meet with a mental health professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist about what you’re feeling and experiencing in order to talk about the difficulties you’re having and to help you see choices and options you may not be aware that you have. You could ask a trusted adult, such as a relative, doctor, teacher or school counselor for help in finding someone to talk and work with. On http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/databases/ you can search for mental health services in your area.You could also contact the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists by calling 215-222-2800 or by visiting their website at www.aglp.org for help in finding someone in your area for you to talk and work with.
It’s great that you’re in recovery from cutting and shows that you’ve done a tremendous amount of work to help you get to a healthier place. Sometimes, when people are feeling stressed and upset, the cutting may start again. People cut as a way of dealing with or managing difficult, painful, overwhelming emotions or stress. For some, cutting relieves stress or tension or they find that the physical pain of cutting is a distraction from the emotional pain. Some people are angry at someone in their life and take the anger out on themselves by cutting. Others feel that the cutting gives them a feeling of control when things in the life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or “dead inside” and cutting helps them to feel alive.With your concerns about your family’s reaction to you being bisexual, you may be experiencing some or all of these things. It’s important for you to know that cutting may help you to feel better briefly but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become as it can cause permanent scars, infections and serious, and sometimes life threatening medical problems especially if you cut a major blood vessel. It can also cause you to feel shame, guilt, depressed and out of control. If you do have the urge to cut, there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before and after you cut yourself. If cutting helps to release anger, you might try getting the anger out in another way like hitting a pillow, stomping around in heavy shoes, ripping up an old newspaper or flattening aluminum cans. If cutting helps you when you’re sad, do whatever makes you feel taken care of and comforted. That may be listening to certain songs, calling a friend or eating a favorite food. Sometimes, writing in a journal or drawing/painting helps a person to feel better. For some people, doing something physical like running outdoors or yoga can help relieve stress. If the cutting helps you to feel less numb, do something that creates a sharp physical feeling like putting your hand briefly in ice water or stamp your feet on the ground). There are websites available including www.safe-alternatives.com and http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm that can help you learn about cutting as well as additional things you can do when you have the urge to cut. As you may have experienced, it can be very difficult to stop cutting and if the cutting returns, it would be important to tell a trusted adult about the cutting in order for them to find a therapist for you to work with to find safer and healthier ways to deal with the hard things you’re going through. You can call 1-800-DON’T-CUT where you can be referred to a therapist in your area. When you have the urge to cut, you can always call the Trevor lifeline at 1-866-4-U-Trevor (1-866-488-7386) and talk with a Trevor lifeline counselor about what you’re feeling and experiencing as well as your urge to cut which can help to delay or stop the urge to cut. They can also work with you to find a therapist to help you.
As you go through this difficult time, it can be helpful and would be important to get the support you need. You might think about talking with a school counselor or a trusted friend who’s been supportive of you. You could join TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org the Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) young people ages 13 to 24 their friends and straight allies. It’s a great supportive community, where you can connect and chat with young people all over, get support and learn what’s helped others dealing with similar issues.
Please continue to reach out for help and support and to fight for you because you’re definitely worth fighting for. Remember that you can always call the Trevor Lifeline 24 hours, 7 days a week. Our counselors answer many calls from young people who considering whether or not to come out to their family. Please know that you don’t have to go through this alone as we’re always here for you at The Trevor Project.