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After two years of questioning my sexuality, I now feel certain that I am gay. I’m comfortable with this, but I have a problem — none of my friends take me seriously when I tell them. I try not to make a big deal out of my sexuality, and I generally don’t go around telling people, but I wanted my closest friends to know, out of respect for them, and because I know there is a lot of discrimination against LGBT people, and there may well come a day when I am facing that, and I will need my friends on my side. When I try to tell them, however, they laugh, thinking I’m joking. It’s like they don’t believe homosexuality really exists! I have no problem with my sexuality, but my closest friends acting like this is really getting me down. Can you advise me?
Letter submitted by:
It’s terrific that after two years of questioning, you feel comfortable with yourself and are trying to come out to your friends. That’s great that you understand that it’s not always easy being LGBT and want your friends on your side. It’s always important to have a good network of friends who support you. Coming out can be a really good thing. It can let people in your life know about an important part of your life, it can help you to feel less alone, meet new friends as well as possibly meet people to date. It must be really frustrating to have your friends laugh and think you’re joking, when in fact you’re telling them something very important about yourself. While you’ve had two years to figure out your own sexuality, your friends may not have known you were going through this journey. So, in effect, they have to go through a “coming out” process too. I’m not sure how much you told your friends about your feelings so far. I imagine it was difficult to continue the conversation if they didn’t believe you.
I would say that it’s probably best to talk to your friends one on one rather than all at once. If you’re sitting down with one close friend and talking about your crushes, or about a gay TV character, or anything that feels relevant, perhaps you might want to mention again that you are gay. Tell them that their friendship is important to you and that’s why you wanted to share something personal about yourself, and you hope they’d understand and support you in this. The HRC has a coming out guide that may help: http://www.hrc.org/files/documents/ComingOut_ResourceGuide.pdf. There is a section on coming out to friends.
It’s also helpful to talk to other LGBTQ people. Is there a Gay Straight Alliance that you know about? Or an LGBT community center in your town or one nearby? There’s also www.trevorspace.org, the Trevor Project’s online social networking community for LGBTQ youth age 13 to 24. 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 your sexuality. Remember, the Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR. We’re always here for you!