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Constantly cutting because I am afraid of coming out as gay to my family and friends.

Question:

Hello,

I recently found out I was gay after my best friend came to my house and we both looked into each others eyes and realized we were gay.

I really want  to go out with him and tell  everyone my sexuality. I was talking to my brother recently and I found out that he was homophobic. I ran up into the bathroom and I cut my self worse than I ever had before. I was crying and didn’t know what to do. I want to be open about my sexuality, but I need my family to be okay with it and not judge me. I want them to accept me. Please help!

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

Hello Sam,

First off, I am glad that you wrote to Ask Trevor. Sometimes, it is not easy to ask difficult or personal questions and just by writing this letter, I can tell you are a brave and strong person. We are always here for you at the Trevor Project because we really do care about you.

You sound like a self-aware person and it is understandable that you are thinking about coming out. You are not alone. Many people of all ages question their sexuality and tell people about their sexuality at many different times and in many different ways. What is most important is that you are safe and comfortable in doing so. How and when you tell people about your sexuality is a completely personal decision. Remember, there is no rush to tell anyone and your feelings are completely natural and normal.

It can be really hard when people we are close with and who are supposed to love and care for you no matter what, seem like they are unaccpeting of you for being exactly who you are, but feel special that you are reaching out for help, because you are special and you are not alone.

While telling people about your sexuality can be hard, it can have its positives. 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.

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 them 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.

When figuring out 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/files/documents/ComingOut_ResourceGuide.pdf helpful. In addition, 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 of help to you.”

Your family and/or friends 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 family members/friends to help them become more understanding and accepting of you.  There are no guarantees, but I hope that these resources are of some help to you.

Sam, in your letter you mentioned that you have cut yourself pretty badly. People cut for many different reasons. People cut as a way of dealing with or managing difficult, painful, overwhelming emotions or stress. For some, cutting relieves stress or tension or they find that the physical pain of cutting is a distraction from the emotional pain. Some people are angry at someone in their life and take the anger out on themselves by cutting. Others feel that the cutting gives them a feeling of control when things in the life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or “dead inside” and cutting helps them to feel alive.  With the way your brother reacted and think about your family, you may be experiencing some or all of these feelings.

It’s important for you to know that cutting may help you to feel better briefly but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become as it can cause permanent scars, infections and serious, and sometimes life threatening medical problems especially if you cut a major blood vessel. It can also cause you to feel shame, guilt, depressed and out of control.

If you feel like cutting, there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before and after you cut yourself. If cutting helps to release anger, you might try getting the anger out in another way like hitting a pillow, stomping around in heavy shoes, ripping up an old newspaper or flattening aluminum cans. If cutting helps you when you’re sad, do whatever makes you feel taken care of and comforted. That may be listening to certain songs, calling a friend or eating a favorite food. Sometimes, writing in a journal or drawing/painting helps a person to feel better. For some people, doing something physical like running outdoors or yoga can help relieve stress. If the cutting helps you to feel less numb, do something that creates a sharp physical feeling like putting your hand briefly in ice water or stamp your feet on the ground). There are websites available including www.safe-alternatives.com and http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm that can help you learn about cutting as well as additional things you can do when you have the urge to cut.

It can be very difficult to stop cutting and it would be important to tell a trusted adult about the cutting in order for them to find a therapist for you to work with to find safer and healthier ways to deal with the hard things you’re going through.

I am going to suggest TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org. It’s the Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 their friends and allies. 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 family and coming out.

Sam, keep fighting because you are worth fighting for. You are not alone and we are always here for you. Please do not hesitate to write to Ask Trevor again at any time.

Best Wishes,

Trevor