Hi Trevor Project. 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 threw 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?
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Thanks for writing Ask Trevor. It takes a lot of courage to share, so thank you. It’s wonderful that you have the support of your family. They sound amazing. I’m sure it’s been very difficult to keep your sexuality a secret from your friends because you’re afraid they will not be supportive or accepting. Your friends might possibly need time and help to become more understanding and supportive of you. There are resources to assist people in coming out. Some people are fine with 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 to see how the people in their life react. You might find it helpful to write out and rehearse things you might say.
PFLAG– Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, is a great organization that is made up of mostly 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 or gender identity. On PFLAG’s website at: http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=194&srcid=-2 click on “Get Support” then click “For Family & Friends,” there you’ll find the pamphlets “Frequently Asked Questions about GLBT People,” which, if you’re comfortable, you can share with your family members or friends to help them become more understanding and accepting of your sexuality. PFLAG also runs support groups where parents and friends 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 or 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. There are no guarantees but this may help.
I know the thought of not having the support of your friends is terrifying. It sounds like some of your friends have no problem with your sexual orientation. That great! As for your good friend that you’re worried about, whose conversation religious beliefs disagrees with your sexual orientation… it’s important to know that though some people, including certain religious leaders, may believe and teach that homosexuality is against the Bible and that you can’t be religious and be gay, there are many religious leaders and members of religious communities who teach love, acceptance and equality for all of people and are supportive and accepting of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people. To learn about the Biblical scriptures that teach compassion and support for gay people, you might consider reading through the numerous guides on Soulforce’s “Resources” webpage at www.soulforce.org and also reading the PFLAG guide “Faith in our Families: Parents, Families and Friends Talk About Religion and Homosexuality” at http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/FaithinourFamilies.pdf.” If you’d like to read more about various opinions regarding faith and sexual orientation, there is also a great resource online called The Institute for Welcoming Resources at http://www.welcomingresources.org/. It is the most comprehensive and up to date website devoted to providing religious and faith based resources for the LGBTQ community. Maybe, when you feel comfortable, you could share these resources with your friend. Also let her know how important your friendship with her is to you.
Good luck, Nicki! Please do not hesitate to call the Trevor lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR, 24 hours 7 days a week, if you need to talk. Feel free to write back with any more questions you may have. To chat with other young people like yourself, please visit The Trevor Project’s social networking site, TrevorSpace at: www.TrevorSpace.org. Take care, Nicki!