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Ask Trevor is an online, non-time sensitive question and answer resource for young people with questions surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity. Browse the published letters or submit your own letter.

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How do I tell them?

Question:

I have been taught by my dad from a young age that being gay is bad, but now I think that I may be. I never had a crush on a boy or anything close, but last year there was this one girl that I could never stop staring at. I had the same feelings my friends had described about boys. I told myself that it was unnatural, and forced myself to try to forget about it. I have finally told myself who I am, but am too afraid to tell anybody. Anytime my dad rages about gays being unnatural, I take it soo personal. I want to tell my friend, but I don’t know how he will take it. I know he wouldn’t tell anybody, but I really want him to accept me. I want everyone to accept me, for that matter. How do I tell people? Who do I tell? How will they react?

 

Answer:

 

Hi,

I’m glad you reached out to ask about how to come out to people. That was a brave step you have just taken, and a courageous one. And certainly a pretty scary one I’m sure. But you have come to the right place to seek guidance. Just wanting to be accepted is one of a human’s basic needs, and a totally natural one. Your acceptance of your true self is something you can be proud of, and you should feel good about that.

Since you have come to be comfortable with your sexuality, it’s understandable that the mention of it being “unnatural” is offensive to you, and makes you uncomfortable. Of course you take it personally. But realize that when someone says that being gay is “unnatural” they’re just going on what they’ve been taught. They don’t know what you are feeling, and who knows your feelings better than you? There are many people who believe that same-sex attraction is normal and natural. After all, it’s how you feel, and you aren’t wrong about yourself.

You asked about how to come out to others. Know first that only you can decide when to come out and to whom. It’s your decision, and one that you should consider carefully, as once told, you cannot undo it. That is understandably pretty scary. So your first priority should be to make sure that you are safe and that you are comfortable with your decision. Your dad has told you that he thinks being gay is bad, so I would be especially cautious when thinking about coming out to him.

Of course his remarks are hurtful to you, and keeping this part of your life a secret is causing you a lot of stress. Maybe consider the following questions before making a decision on whether to come out to him: 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 nature. If you feel now is the right time, then that’s absolutely fine. What is most important is that you will be comfortable and safe.

Should you decide to go ahead and have picked the person to tell, you may 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 they react. You might find it helpful to write out and rehearse things you might say. You might find the Trevor Project’s “Coming Out As You” at http://www.thetrevorproject.org/section/YOU 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 sexuality. 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. PFLAG also runs support groups where parents and others can discuss questions and concerns they have about a loved one’s sexual nature 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 learn ways to help them become more understanding of you.

Other resources you might share with them are the books “Now That You Know – A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children” which addresses many issues and questions that arise for parents of gay and lesbian children and “Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together.” These may help, but there are no guarantees. Us humans are sometimes unpredictable, though that could be positive or negative. All you can do is pick wisely, hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. And yet, some people may surprise you with their support.

Know also that you have friends here at the Trevor Project, and that you can also find friends in your age group through TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org . You can also talk to trained counselors through TrevorChat 7 days a week from 3pm to 9pm (Eastern time).

Good luck and we wish only the best for you.

With love,

Trevor Staff