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I have depression. It only cropped up in the last few years and I’m absolutely sure that the fact that I have to hide who I am from everybody is one of the main contributing factors. My parents are very religious, I told them I was gay about 4 years ago and they made me go to therapy, after which I lied and told them I was straight so I could stop going. I’ve spent a long time building up the friendships I have, and I’m afraid revealing this part of me to any of them will make them look at me or think of me differently, even if they are ok with it. And then there’s the problem or re-coming out to my parents (I’m going to college next year thank god). I am somewhat religious and they have me genuinely convinced that if I make this “choice” or act upon these feelings in any way, I’m going to hell, and I’m terrified. I’m a senior in high school, this is supposed to be one of the best years of my life, yet it’s the worst I’ve ever had. I’m not sure how I can survive college like this, especially in the rigorous classes I’ll be in (2300 on the sat going for a computer science major). I literally can’t to anything but come home from school and sleep all day. I’m lost and I’ve come so close to giving up so many times, I’m afraid one time I will.
Letter submitted by:
I’m so glad you had the courage to reach out to us for advice and support for such a tough situation as you are in. You seem to be very secure in your sexual orientation, having been certain enough of it 4 years ago to come out to your parents for the first time. That was incredibly brave of you, even if it ended up not going how you expected and wanted it to. Being rejected by your parents and forced into therapy was unfair, even if your parents meant well. Hiding who you are from everybody is difficult and exhausting, so what you are going through is completely valid.
Despite what you’ve been taught, it’s very important to know that there is nothing wrong with being gay and in fact, it is completely normal and natural. There are many, many gay people who are religious and continue to attend religious services. Please know that you can definitely be religious and gay at the same time. It might also help you 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 go to heaven and be gay, but 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.
It sounds like you have spent a lot of time building friendships and that is great! While coming out to others is yours decision, we want to make sure that you are comfortable and safe. Coming out can let people in your life know about an important part of your life, it can help you to feel less alone, meet new friends as well as possibly meet people to date. In trying to figure out whether or not to come out, it can help to ask yourself some questions including: What does it feel like keeping this part of your life a secret? Does it cause you a lot of stress worrying about them finding out? Are you worried that if you told your family or your friends, you’d be unsafe physically or emotionally? 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 orientation/gender identity. If you feel now is the right time, that’s absolutely fine. What is most important is that you are comfortable and safe. Who knows, they might surprise you with positive support.
Some people are fine 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 and see how the people in their life 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.
You are not lost so long as you can continue reaching out for help and being the brave intelligent, young person that you are! Do not give up. You have a bright future ahead of you, even if this last year of high school is going to be difficult. If you need some peer support, try TrevorSpace, where you can find others your age for friendships and peer advice, a shoulder to cry on, and others who have had similar experiences. And remember that we are always here, that if you feel in crisis or you feel like giving up, you can call our Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-Trevor anytime 24/7 and one of our awesome counselors will be pleased to talk with you. We’re here for you, because we love you.
Take care, my young friend. And do write us again!