My first question is do you have to be with somebody to know you’re gay/lesbian? When I tried bringing it up to my mother, she said, “How do you know? You haven’t been with anybody.” I don’t think that is what matters. I’m pretty sure I’m a lesbian. I am just so much more attracted to girls. My father really does not care for gay people and I’m terrified to tell him and the rest of my family. I feel like I’m falling apart and I just really don’t know what to do. All I know is I’m sick of hiding such a big part of me. What should I do? Please Help!!!
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Thanks for writing to us; you’re trying hard to work out your feelings and it takes both courage and confidence to talk about the issue. To answer your question, you don’t have to be in a relationship to be Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual. Using that logic, a person is not straight unless they have been with somebody. Knowing you are Gay or Lesbian is something you feel inside. Sexual attraction depends a lot on the individual person you find attractive. For instance, you may be attracted to someone of the opposite sex but yet still NOT identify yourself as straight because you prefer someone of our own sex. It’s important to be honest with yourself, and know that whatever you decide is okay and right for you.
Have you talked about the issue with friends? If not, you may want to check out the links below. You may be fine just talking about your sexuality or you may 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 could find the Human Rights Campaign’s “Resource Guide to Coming Out” at http://www.hrc.org/files/documents/ComingOut_ResourceGuide.pdf 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. The Advocates for Youth website can help you understand more about what it means to be Lesbian, because women’s viewpoint on sexuality isn’t as rigid as men’s: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=730&Itemid=177
I’m sorry that your parents’ reactions are hurting you. In trying to figure out whether or not to come out to your family, ask yourself some questions: What does it feel like keeping this part of your life a secret? It sounds as if it’s caused 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? If you told your parents, are you concerned that they might kick you out of the house? If you decided to tell them and they did kick you out, it would be important to have a safety plan, meaning a safe place where you could live and continue in school and find a way to support yourself financially. 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. It’s most important is that you are comfortable and safe.
The PFLAG.org website has lots of information for parents who have questions or want to talk to other parents of LGBT people. You might also look at the Advocates for Youth website, some of the information could help you find comfortable ways to let others know your sexuality: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=730&Itemid=177 or http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=726&Itemid=336
It’s hard to be patient if you feel ready to come out; it is a big step, and it’s easier if you feel like you have some emotional support. If you think it would help to talk it through with a professional, Alesha, contact the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists by calling 215-222-2800 or visiting their website at www.aglp.org for help in finding someone in your area to talk with. They might help you find ways to cope with your family situation.
Remember that you can always use Trevor Space, Alesha, it’s a great way to find out how others in your situation were able to come out.