Hi, so I’m 18 and I’ve been thinking about coming out to my art teacher. I’ve already come out to my mom and friend, but neither of those conversations went well. I told my mom at home and my friend while at school, and after I told them “I think I’m gay”, they both replied by telling me how they don’t think I’m gay and that I’ll probably meet a really nice boy someday. This happened when I was a sophmore,and they both say things to me that make me feel like they don’t accept me.
I came out to my freind because I thought she was gay and she acts very boyish, but she’ll say homophobic things. This is really confusing because she once told me that she had feelings for me, and alot of times she’ll hug me or try to put her arm around me like she’s interested in me. But other times she’ll say things to me that imply that I’m gay in front of people.She’s the only person at school that knows that I like girls, and instead of supporting me, it’s like she teases me instead.
My problem with my mom is that ever since I was little, she always told me that I couldn’t tell my heart who to fall in with, but when I told her I was gay, she started telling me stories of how when she was in high school, how she thought boys didn’t like her and blah blah blah. I asked her how she would feel if I dated girls, and she said started talking about how she worries about me because there are people who would do mean things to me because I’m gay. She eventually said she would be fine with it, but I could tell she didn’t really mean it. I’m in my senior year of highschool now, and I’ve been looking for a prom date. My mom keeps suggesting that I go with this one boy, and this really upsets me! It’s like she totally forgot that I told her that I was gay, and when she does bring up me saying that I was gay, she asks me “Do you still feel that way?” She never says the word gay or lesbian, and she makes me feel like being gay is so disgusting and like I’m going through some phase or something.
I want to tell my art teacher, because she seems really accepting and I feel I can trust her. She tells her students not to use homophobic slurs, and she’s always telling me how I can come and talk to her about my problems. I want to tell her that I’m gay and hopefully be accepted by someone. I’m afriad to do this though, because of my past experiences. What should I do?
Letter submitted by:
Hi Ky. It sounds like you are struggling with the unwillingness or inability of people close to you to accept/affirm your disclosure of your sexual orientation. We applaud you for your insight and the clarity of mind that comes through so beautifully in your letter. You are clearly an expressive, compassionate and thoughtful individual. Quite normally, it is painful for you that two people close to you, your friend and your mom, seem unwilling to accept your coming out to them. The behavior of your friend strikes us as particularly un”friend” like, since you wrote that she teases you, makes homophobic comments in your presence, and seemingly “outs” you in front of others at school. Only you can decide how such treatment squares with being a friend.
As to your mom, you write she appears to continue to hold out a hope that your expression of same sex attraction was a phase, something you might outgrow, a passing fancy. It is not unusual for parents to go through a period of denial and grief at the “loss” of the daughter or son that they had envisioned. Once they have gone through this process, oftentimes with help from others, hopefully they come to a place where they can envision you for who you are in all its beauty. In these situations, it has been shown to be helpful for parents of newly out children to be able to talk with a mentor or peer who has gone through the same or similar experience or with a gay or lesbian adult who can help them to process their emotions and learn more about the possibility for gay men and women to have fulfilling, happy lives. 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/friends 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/friends won’t attend, you could still contact the nearest chapter and get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you.
As to whether to come out to your art teacher, only you can decide whether to take this step, but from your description of her not tolerating homophobic comments and her stance that she is available to you to discuss any problems you may have, it sounds to us like she may not disappoint you.
Please let us know if we can be of assistance in the future and consider making use of our other support systems such as “TrevorSpace” at www.trevorspace.org. It’s 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’re having about coming out and intolerance from family and friends.