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Coming to Terms With My Homosexuality While Living with My Religious Family

Question:

I’d be eternally grateful if someone would listen to my situation. So, if you decide to read this, thank you in advance.

Anyway, I’m 18 years old and I’m going off to college in the Autumn. I realized I was a homosexual when I was in 9th grade.I came out to my parents during the summer after my Sophomore year in high school. Coming to terms with it has never come fully. I still feel a great bit of shame. (Religious affiliations have not caused my shamefulness. It’s just how long I’ve had to conceal myself.) I myself am an Agnostic and Liberal Democrat. The problem is, my parents are quite conservative when it comes to Political Ideologies. Not only that, but my father is a minister of the Christian faith. As you can deduct, my family and I have had our fair share of disagreements and arguments.

I was hoping that college could be an escape for me and my troubling parents, but it has become a ball and chain. My father plans to minister for about three or four more years while I’m in college. Since he has made that decision, I’m extremely apprehensive about coming out in college. I may hate my family for their bigoted ways often, but they’re the only family I will ever have. I still want to see them financially well-off, yet I want to be able to express myself. I fear that if I come out while he’s still ministering (and not retired) that he’ll lose his job. My family sweeps my homosexuality under the carpet. We haven’t spoken about my homosexuality since the day I came out to them. Imagine the devastation I felt when they thought of it as a “phase.”

Dear reader, how can I balance my personal happiness while allowing my father to continue the last few years of his career without hindrance?

And if you could help me with this point also, I’d be forever indebted to you. How can I salvage my relationship with my immediate family and relatives while still being able to be myself? I’m kind of turned off by the dogma of constructed religion, so that already separates me a great deal. How can I pick up the pieces when I let other family members know who I truly am? I feel that I’m slowly becoming insane because I can’t express who I want to be freely. In a sense, I feel the ever-so impending clock of happiness is running out for me.

With much regard,

Jack Montecello

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

Dear Jack,

Your feelings are completely understandable and normal for someone so close to such a big moment in their life such as heading to college. As you may see already, and certainly will as you begin next fall, college can be an emotional, growing experience for students and their parents alike. No matter how you feel, you’ve made great progress in addressing your sexuality openly with your parents, even if they’re not yet as open to it. It’s hard to explain college in a sentence, but Jack, know that it will do amazing things for you, your self-esteem and your future. In four years as a college senior, you’ll be able to say the same thing to an upcoming high school student.

You’re not alone in questioning your relationship with your faith and your family, and the undoubtedly winding ties between the two. It’s important for you to know there are many people who have gone through this before – and they’ve formed groups to help people like you out! PFLAG has a terrific guide to information called “Faith in our Families” [PDF]. You may want to learn more about the options awaiting those looking to bridge the LGBTQ part of their life with the faith part – it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Visit Soulforce.org‘s guide to Biblical scriptures that preach compassion and support for gay people. Finally, you should also check out WelcomingResources.org for a large volume of religious/faith-based LGBTQ resources.

Make sure your family knows that inside, you are truly happy. In the long run, your happiness and love for yourself will speak volumes above other things. Above all else, know we’re always here for you. Through TrevorChat, TrevorSpace and 24/7/365 at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR.  College will be an amazing experience for you. Know that you’ll be looking back at your time on campus as a defining period in your life.

So from where you are today, the best part of that is you have plenty of time to continue defining yourself.

Have a terrific senior year and an even better start to your adulthood.

Trevor Staff