I’ve dealt with depression and self harm for awhile and my parents found out and put me in therapy. My first session is today and I’m not sure if I should tell her that I’m bi. I feel like I need to tell someone, but I don’t want my parents to find out just yet. I know that theres the whole “doctor-patient confidentiality” thing, but one of my friends thats in therapy told me that her therapist told her parents everything they talked about and now I’m afraid to talk to her. Should I open up to her and tell her I’m bi?
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It sounds from your letter that you are very self aware and mature, but that you are having to deal with a lot on your own right now. That’s very hard. Being open with anyone when you are feeling so vulnerable can be difficult. It took guts to write in, I’m really glad you did.
I want to start by saying two things to you. Firstly, being Bisexual is completely normal and natural and great, and secondly, when and how you come out to people about your sexuality is entirely YOUR choice. You must only tell people when you feel ready and that it is safe for you to do so.
As far as your therapy is concerned, I think once you have had a few sessions and get to know your therapist better, you will be able to sense how safe it is to open up to him or her. You can always ask your therapist directly if what you discuss is confidential or not.
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 people 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, 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. If you feel now is the right time, that’s absolutely fine. What is most important is that you are comfortable and safe. You are the one who decides when you tell people.
Here are some resources that might help you to decide when and how to come out. Some people are fine just saying their sexuality while others find it better to ease into the discussion by first talking about a LGBT 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 you might say. You might find the Human Rights Campaign’s “Resource Guide to Coming Out” at http://www.hrc.org/documents/resourceguide_co.pdf helpful. In addition, on http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/youthresource/comingoutquestions you’ll find an article called “Coming Out to Your Parents: Questions to Think About” which may be of help to you.
It’s also a good idea to have some resources ready for your parents, once you do decide to tell them. Your family may have many questions about your sexuality 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 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 parents 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 parents won’t attend, you could still contact the nearest chapter and get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you.
Remember that Ask Trevor is always here for you. You can also try The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR, TrevorChat, and TrevorSpace.
Good luck to you