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Help me and my sister!

Question:

My older sister (18, freshman in college) was basically outed to our parents when she got her hair cut short. They were angry, upset, disappointed – and the worst of it, my mom doesn’t believe that people can actually be homosexual, she thinks they get “sucked into that trap”and start identifying with that group because they don’t feel accepted by “mainstream people.” So, it’s been hell. I’ve told my sister I support her all along, but it’s hard because I have to be two-faced and agree with my parents’ view when I’m with them because if I sided with my sister to their face they would just think I was brainwashed, too, and I would lose all my influence on them.

They’ve been tracking who she texts on her phone and figured out she’s always texting this girl in her class, and when they looked up the girls’ picture in the yearbook she had a short haircut- well, it basically suggested gay. They forbid my sister from communicating with that girl because they said my sister was following her and being led into the “gay lifestyle” because she wanted a friend. My sister didn’t know how they knew she was friends with the girl and kept texting her even when my parents made her promise she wasn’t communicating with her. The dishonesty with everyone involved compounded the situation.
So, she’s home on winter break now and I emailed her and told her how they knew. Because they basically said they wouldn’t pay her tuition unless she stopped communication with this girl and stopped, basically, acting gay. (Wearing a hat to hide her short haircut, changing to a less gay-friendly dorm, looking for a boyfriend, etc.) She was scared about not being able to go back so she agreed to stop all of that and not communicate with the girl anymore.
But I know the scary depths she’s been in from hiding her sexuality all these years. She needs a companion more than anyone. So I told her that’s how they knew, because I don’t want the deceit to begin again and I don’t want them to take her out of school and I don’t want her to lose her friend.
Did I do the wrong thing? I promised my parents not to breathe a word of their tracking her cell phone.
And how can I help her now? How to be supportive? I can’t help being a little angry because of all the deceit on everyone’s part.

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

I want to thanks you for reaching out to us at Trevor. You are a very compassionate and loving sister! That can be rare given the topic of your letter. Your heart is big and your ability to tap into resources that can help is admirable. We here at Trevor are familiar with the struggles of coming out and the trouble tha can arise in the family because of it. I can understand your anger and it is valid. You have every right to feel anger when it comes to injustices that you feel are being done not only to a family member but to an entire community of people. Since being gay is not a choice, your mom’s responses to your sister about “being swayed” or “choosing” this for other reasons besides the fact she is born this way can be very hurtful and frustrating. We here at Trevor are always here for you, your sister, and her friends.

I want to offer some different options to help support you, educate you, and possibly find others dealing with similar struggles. Knowledge is power and may help in relieving some of the associated stress, anger, and confusion you are feeling. Being familiar with effective dialogue can help you in being able to voice your feelings easier.You might find it helpful to write out and rehearse things you might say. The Human Rights Campaign’s “Resource Guide to Coming Out” at http://www.hrc.org/documents/resourceguide_co.pdf helpful. In addition, on http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/youthresource/comingoutquestions you’ll find an article called “Coming Out to Your Parents: Questions to Think About” which may be of help to you.” Your mom may be aware of the fact your sister is identifying as gay, but she hasn’t really “come out” to her meaning stating her feelings for herself instead of extenuating circumstances leading your mom to make assumptions. Have you ever heard of PFLAG? It is an organization made up of parents and friends of lesbians and gays. If you go to their website; PFLAG.org it will lead you to local chapters/meetings. If you go to the website, click on “Get Support” then click on “For Family and Friends” 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 your sister. 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. On their website, you can search for a chapter near you. If no chapter is near you or if your family members/friends won’t attend, you could still contact the nearest chapter and get support and information yourself and your sister. We have available for you and your sister the TrevorSpace which is a safe social networking site that you may find very helpful when needing information, support, and associations with others who may be dealing with issues similar to yours. Always know too that Trevor has the Trevor Lifeline if you need to speak to someone right away. 866-4-U-TREVOR

Again, I think you are very caring and compassionate. You reaching out to us is admirable. Remember, you are never alone in this nor is your sister. We here at Trevor will always be available for you and your sister. Don’t forget our life line is manned 24-7. I would advocate getting as much information and support you can for yourself. We are here to support you and offer any information we can. It has been my honor responding to your email and please do not hesitate if you find you would like continued support.

Best regards,

AskTrevor Staff