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My immediate family loves me, but what about my conservative friends?

Question:

Hi, Trevor.

I am thirteen years old and I am a lesbian. I have told my mother and sister about my sexuality, but I have not yet told my father. I know that he’ll be accepting, considering we are a very liberal family, but I’m just not quite ready yet. My mother was very supportive and loving, but my sister at first didn’t believe me and thought that I was just doing this for attention; but, she warmed up to the idea.

Anyway, the reason why I’m writing this letter is because of my friends. I love my friends with all of my heart, and some of them I have already told. The ones that I told were very accepting and we actually make jokes about it sometimes. But then there are my more conservative friends. Although I live in Connecticut, which is a liberal state, I live in a pretty conservative town.

I have this one friend who I know will probably never look at me the same way again, considering how conservative and Catholic her family is. Her mother even calls homosexuality an ‘unhealthy lifestyle that she can’t understand’. I’m worried that her mother’s hate is contaminating my friend’s mind, and she won’t be friends with me even though we’ve been friends since first grade. I can’t stand the idea of losing her. We’ve gone through so much and we have so many memories, but I’m worried that all of that will go to waste.

I really need help. Should I come out to her? I mean, I know the saying ‘you have to find out who your real friends are’, but I think I’m too afraid to. I just want to keep my friends, but I want them to know my biggest secret, too. I love them more than anything and the thought of losing them over my sexuality is terrifying.

Please Trevor Project, what should I do?

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

Trevor Staff

First let me say that you are very brave to start coming out to family and friends at such a young age. I think it says a lot about your maturity and sense of yourself. As you have started to experience, coming out isn’t something a person does only one time. It takes time, and happens in different ways with different people. With that understanding, we never tell a person that he or she should come out. That is a personal decision that takes careful consideration and preparation.

One thing that might help you is to talk about your concerns with someone you trust. You said that your mother and sister know and are accepting. Maybe you could talk about coming out to friends, your fears, and how they feel you should proceed. Because they’re your family, they know you well and may know your friends and their families. It could help you understand what you want to do and how you want to do it.

There are many resources available that could help you. One of the best is Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). This is a great organization, made up of mostly parents, that promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through support, education and advocacy. If you go to PFLAG’s Web site (http://www.pflag.org), and click on the “Gay, Lesbian & Bi” tab at the top, it will provide you with links to support for coming out. One of the links is about coming out to family, friends and allies. This could be really helpful information to you, especially as you work to come out to your father.

PFLAG also has local chapters in many cities, and there may be one near your hometown where you can go to a meeting with your family and learn about other resources close to home.

Although it doesn’t sound like your family has any problem with sexual orientation for religious reasons, you did mention that your friend’s family is Catholic. PFLAG has a guide called “Faith in our Families: Parents, Families and Friends Talk About Religion and Homosexuality,” which is available to download at http://community.pflag.org/document.doc?id=494. This guide provides personal stories from families talking about religious reasons for acceptance of LGBT loved ones, and why it is the right thing to do. It could be a good resource for you to learn more about the subject, as well as to help your friend understand you and make it easier for her to accept when you decide to come out to her.

You will still have questions after looking at these resources. Nobody knows all of the answers. If you need to talk with someone, you can always contact the Trevor Project here through Ask Trevor. We also have Trevorchat, which is a forum in which you can chat with trained volunteers about anything that’s troubling you. The Trevor Lifeline, which you can reach by calling 1-866-488-7386, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the United States. There will always be someone there to help you.

The Trevor Project also has an online social network at http://www.trevorspace.org. It’s an online community where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) and straight youth ages 13 to 24 can talk with each other, provide support, and find resources in their communities.

Although it can be very scary, coming out is also very liberating. This can make you feel more confident about yourself. It can show friends and family a different side to your life. It can also help you meet people and make new friends. But, as I said, it’s a process that you have to work through for yourself. It’s very important to remember that you are not alone, and that there are people who care about, love and support you unconditionally.

I hope this information has been helpful. If you decide that now is the right time to come out to your father and your friend, then that’s perfectly fine. The most important thing to remember is that you feel comfortable and safe with your decision, and that you feel you have the resources to support you.