I’m lesbian and am afraid to tell my family. All my friends know and they are really supportive of it. But I’m to afraid to tell them because they aren’t so accepting of it. Also, I have lots of other things on my mind lately, that brought me over the edge, and have already tried to commit suicide a few times. I don’t know what to do anymore.
You took a very brave and courageous step in being open with your friends about you being lesbian and hopefully, you’re feeling proud of you taking that important step. It’s great that your friends have been supportive as they can be helpful to you as you think about telling your family. Many lesbian, gay and bisexual people worry about telling their family members about their sexual orientation as it’s hard to know how they’ll react-will they be accepting, will they change the way they treat me or will the reject me? If you know that your family is not very accepting of any sexual orientation that isn’t straight, it’s understandable that you’d be afraid to tell them that you’re lesbian. You show how intelligent you are in thinking this through and reaching out for help. I’m so glad that you wrote to Ask Trevor for support and help with everything you’re going through.
Alice, please know that we at The Trevor Project care about you. It's concerninng that you've attempted suicide a few times previously. If you ever again have thoughts of suicide, it's very important for your safety to 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. If you don't feel comfortable, you don't need to talk with them about your sexuality when you have this discussion. If you ever feel you're going to act on the thoughts of suicide immediately call 911 or get to your nearest hospital emergency room. 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, 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. When you’re depressed, it can be very painful to feel, can make you isolate from your friends and family, cause you to be tired all the time and take away your motivation to do things, make you not enjoy the things you usually like to do, make you sleep much less or much more than usual, as you've experienced, cause you to eat much less than usual and make you see everything in your life in a negative way. Sometimes the depression can get so bad it can make a person think of ending their life. People sometimes think about ending their life when they're feeling very depressed, feel hopeless that things will get better and helpless to make things better in their life. On www.us.reachout.com you'll find facts about depression by clicking on “struggles with feelings.” Please know that there is treatment for depression and ways to deal with thoughts of killing yourself including therapy and/or medication. It can help to talk with a mental health professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist about what you’re feeling and going through including your concerns about how your parents will react to you being lesbian as well as the other things that brought you over the edge in order to get the correct treatment to help you to feel better and to help you see choices and options you may not be aware that you have. On www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen_teenagers.htm you can learn more about depression and its treatment. 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 very natural to want to talk with people in your life about being lesbian as this is a very important part of you. In trying to figure out whether or not to come out to your family, 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 them finding out? Are you worried that if you told them, 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 not the right time, that’s absolutely fine. What is most important is that you are comfortable and safe.
As you try to figure this out, it could helpful and would be important to get support. You might talk with your friends as you said that they've been very supportive. You might also talk with a supportive and accepting relative, teacher or school counselor. 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. It's a great supportive community where you can connect with people all over some of whom may be going through similar issues about coming out to their family members. On http://www.thetrevorproject.org/youth/local-resources you can search for LGBT resources in your area where you could meet other young people, get support and learn things that helped them in figuring out whether or not to come out to their family.
Sometimes family members who aren't accepting of their loved one's sexual orientation, 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 about the PFLAG New York chapter by visiting their website at https://www.pflagnyc.org/, calling them at (212) 463-0629 or emailing them at email@example.com. 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.
Alice, please continue to reach out for help and support. Remember that you can always call the Trevor Lifeline 24 hours, 7 days a week. Our counselors answer many calls from young people who are thinking about coming out to their parents. Please know that you don't have to go through this alone as we're always here for you at The Trevor Project.