Hi Trevor Friends,
I have been in a loving relationship with an amazing girl for 2 years now. My parents and grandmother, who love me very much, deny that I am queer (to them I use the label ‘gay’ as they still see queer as derogatory)- they think I am straight or in the least bisexual but that I am deceiving myself and this girl has been ”tricking me’ into loving her for all this time. They have asked that I don’t tell anyone in fear that my sick grandfather will find out through the grapevine and it will cause him distress. I also have a young sister at home who they say is “highly impressionable” and cannot keep a secret, and, though I live across the country from my parents and sister, they will never bring up my girlfriend or my sexuality. It is the elephant in the room and I feel so disregarded in this way. Another issue is that my family is Jewish and although they are not traditionally observant in the slightest, my girlfriend is not Jewish. She is also Chinese. Cultural differences are often celebrated in my family, but I know my parents just want me to have an easy life and this is why they are being so hesitant with accepting who I love. The things they say about me though and the way they silence me make me feel so stupid. They call me young and naive and negate all my feelings as artificial. I can understand that I have not lived for as long as they have and they have more insight on life experiences, but their talk is very hurtful and the buildup of me being semi-closeted for these last few years has been really hard to take. When I tell them this, they keep repeating their fears. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t have a productive conversation with them anymore . I consider myself a very sympathetic person but now when I hear hurtful things from them, I either shut down and become apathetic or I burst.
What should I do next? This pain is hurting me, my family and my girlfriend who is being hated upon and gets very upset by the hurt that I am feeling.
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It sounds like you are doing with your best with a very frustrating and unfair situation. It’s a real challenge to stay patient when your family’s not fully supportive, and you’re maintaining an admirably mature attitude. You’ve shown a great deal of courage and strength—you should be very proud of yourself.
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to force people to give their approval. It sounds like continuing to argue isn’t going to work. At this point, you have two options. You could simply refuse to continue to debate your sexuality and personal life with them, and hope they gradually come around as they see for themselves you really are queer. Sometimes it’s easier for people to admit they’re wrong if they realize it on their own.
You could also take a more assertive stance and refuse to spend time with them as long as they keep behaving this way. You should be very cautious in considering this strategy. Don’t go down this road if you depend on them financially and think there’s a risk they might retaliate by cutting you off.
The good news is you’re already out to them—hopefully they will adjust over time. In the meantime, though, continue to seek help for the emotional toll this has been taking on you. Reaching out to the Trevor Project was a great idea. Seek out friends and mentors you can confide in; talking through the problem out loud can be a great release. Consider talking to a counselor or therapist. It looks like you’re in graduate school—your university’s medical center likely has counselors who could be a great resource. Also look to see whether your university has a LGBT group you could join; having friends and allies who can relate to what you’re going through can really help, too.
Coming out is the hardest part, but sometimes it’s a long process. Hang in there. Please feel free to write back, or to reach out to Trevor Project counselors through any of the other services. You can also always talk to a counselor by calling the Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.