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Coming Out and Accepting Myself

Question:

Hello,

I am 14 years old and I came out to myself (that I am gay) when I was 12. I have been keeping it a secret since I found out. But towards the end of 8th grade I came out to a couple of my close friends. One of them, who I was friends with since 2nd grade, didn’t accept me and ignored me every time I tried to talk to her.

I’ve always known that I was different. That I was special. I was a tomboy when I was younger. I would always play with the boys on the playground at school, I played with toy cars, and I mostly was with my dad a lot. I have never ever thought a boy was cute or hot or anything. I always had crushes on girls, but I never told anyone.

In a couple weeks I will be starting school. My first year of high school. I am really nervous what people will say about me. I know I’m going to be bullied because I don’t think that anyone who is gay made it through high school without getting bullied. I am also shy so it’s going to be hard to make friends. All I want is to be myself and not care what anyone thinks about me. But I don’t know how to do that. I am a “butch lesbian” so I want to wear boys clothes and cut my hair short. But I’m afraid of what people will think about me. Especially my family and friends. I’ve tried so many times to come out but I couldn’t say it. All I want to know is how can I come out (by the way my family is not homophobic) and how can I love myself and not care what anyone else thinks?

Thanks for your help!

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

Lauren,

Thanks for sharing your story, and congratulations on coming out to yourself! This first step shows that you’re getting comfortable with your sexuality, and I’m glad you are finding support among some of your friends. You don’t say if these friends will go to the same high school, but it’s still like hitting the Reset button. Whether you’re Gay or straight, every new student feels nervous about first impressions. In some ways, learning to like yourself and not worry about what others think is as hard as coming out, but remember liking yourself and others liking you are two different things. Work on liking yourself first. Here are a few links that talk about being LGBT and also have suggestions for coming out.

A really good document is the Human Rights Campaign’s “Resource Guide to Coming Out” at http://www.hrc.org/files/documents/ComingOut_ResourceGuide.pdf helpful. I’m happy to hear your parents are not homophobic, but they may be surprised when you eventually tell them you’re Lesbian.  The PFLAG site (www.pflag.org) has a document called “Be Yourself: Questions for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth” with answers about sexual orientation and coming out. I think the BEST line in this document is: “you don’t need to prove anything to anybody. Just be yourself.” http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Be_Yourself.pdf 

On http://amplifyyourvoice.org/youthresource/youthresource-comingout you’ll find an article called “Coming Out to Your Parents: Questions to Think About” which may be helpful, too.

Keep in mind there’s no rush to figure this out right away. High school is still about learning and exploring other aspects of yourself, because it’s all tied together with who you are. For shy people, common interests are a good way to start making new friends. Look at the various clubs and activities the school offers, even if it’s something that’s traditionally “for boys.” Some people are more confident about saying their sexuality with new friends 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. It might be helpful to write out and rehearse things you could say. The Advocates for Youth website has some information that could help you find comfortable ways to let others know your sexuality:  http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=730&Itemid=177

What if you encounter bullying? Hopefully you won’t encounter bullying, and intolerance. But several organizations work specifically in schools to address homophobia and transphobia against LGBT students. For example, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (www.glsen.org) works to ensure safe schools for ALL students. On their website, click on the “what we do” link to find programs which may help people in your school become more understanding and supportive of you. (By the way, I made it through high school without being bullied for being Gay–so I know it’s possible!)

So, take a deep breath, keep your fears in check and look at high school as your opportunity to become more open about who you are. Remember that you can ask people in Trevor Space how they let others know they are “out” without feeling uncomfortable. Trevor Space is a great supportive community because others probably have had or are having the same situation. Read information on the links above and decide what you feel comfortable sharing now. You may be a shy new student, but you’ve done some “homework” to make the transition and start forming new friendships with people who like you just the way you are. Good luck with that first day, and remember that it definitely gets better.

Trevor Staff