Dear Trevor, I’ve been struggling with my sexuality since I was 16, no one knows that I’m gay. I haven’t told anyone because I’m afraid. I live in a country where being gay is worse than hitting a woman, where being gay is seen as a sin. I don’t know if my parents and friends will accept me like this. I feel so alone sometimes because of this. I really want to come out because I feel like I’m in a prison. I want to be able to tell someone how I feel, but- at the same time- I feel scared. I don’t know if I’ll be able to endure all of the things people will say to me. Also, I don’t know who I should tell first, my parents or my friends; and how should I say it?
Thank you for writing into the TrevorProject. You should know that it takes courage to reach out for help when you feel like you’re keeping such a huge secret from the people and want to confide in the most. I understand your inclination to be honest with your family and friends because you don’t want to feel like you can’t be yourself with the very people who are supposed to love you unconditionally. First, before I offer you any kind of advice I want you to know and believe that you are worthy of love no matter what your sexuality is. You are not abnormal or sinful because of who you may love.
Having said that, you are not obligated to come out to your family or friends. You mentioned that where you live being gay is a serious social taboo so you need to consider whether you would be safe coming out to your family and friends. They may share this information with others who might feel that they have the right to confront you about your sexuality. If you feel that your safety is not in question, coming out can be a great opportunity for you to fully be yourself fully around your loved ones; it may also force your family and friends to reconsider your beliefs about homosexuality and homosexual individuals. It may make it easier for you to date and make new friends.
I encourage you to consider some of these questions in deciding what your decision will be. You might want to consider how feel about keeping this part of yourself hidden from your family compared to how stressed you feel at the thought of sharing this with your loved ones. If you do come out would you be safe in your household emotionally and physically. If you decided to tell them and they kicked you out, would you have an alternative place to live? Would you be able to continue to go to school and support yourself financially, or would someone be willing to help you do this? If you are not certain in this regard you should consider waiting to come out until you are financially independent so that you family can’t use this power imbalance to control you.
Here are some resources you might want to check out to help you figure out how to come out and how to help your family and friends process your sexuality. You might find it helpful to write out and rehearse things you might say. 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. You might want to you’re your parents a book called “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. You could also check out a website called www.pflag.org (parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays), click on “get support” and then click on “for family and friends” for more information to share with your family and friends about understanding their gay loved one.
You can always reach to The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR, TrevorChat, and TrevorSpace if you need more information or someone to hear you out. We are always here for you, Luis, and I wish you the best of luck.