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Straight Talk: Gay girl fears coming out to intolerant parents

By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: I haven’t told anyone, but I’m gay. I wish I wasn’t and I’ve tried to change, but nothing works. My parents are very religious and think being gay is one of the worst sins possible. I get sick thinking about how they would treat me if they knew. I’m also worried about my friends rejecting me. What do I do? I’m 16. I can’t keep it a secret forever. ~ “Kristie,” Carmichael Maureen, 17, Redding: Step one: tell an understanding friend. I was the first person my friend told. He is now openly gay among friends, but his parents, who are close-minded, are still unaware. For further advice, go to PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) at pflag.org. Molly, 17, Fair Oaks: The good part is you sound sure of your orientation. Many go years denying it especially when it goes against family beliefs. It’s possible your parents will reject you, at least for a while, so I would have at least 10 people who will support you before you tell them. You could even have one of them there with you. Above all, you first must be confident that there is nothing wrong or shameful about being gay. Katelyn, 14, Huntington Beach: Look for a homosexual support group; knowing you’re not alone will help. At the same time, don’t give up on being straight. Exodus International (exodusinternational.org) helps Christians who feel gay but wish not to. I believe gay feelings are temptations. Don’t let society paint you into a corner by saying you have to be gay. Rachel, 18, Fair Oaks: Start by telling one person. Then decide your next step. Mariah, 17, Sand Springs, OK: Your parents may not like it, but ultimately, they will love you. I have plenty of gay friends. If your friends reject you, they weren’t friends anyway. Catherine, 22, Amherst, MA: You cannot, and should not, hide who you are from those you love. For some of my friends, coming out to their parents was the hardest thing they ever did — until they did it. I recommend Am I Blue? Coming out from the Silence, which is a compilation of coming-out stories. It helped me come out and I was lucky to discover how compassionate my family and friends were. Jack, 18, San Luis Obispo: I hate to be a downer, but there is a great possibility that religious parents won’t take kindly to your being gay. Is telling them worth going through two more years in a house where your parents resent your sexuality? Dear “Kristie:” Your generation is very accepting of homosexuality, so definitely tell your friends. You’ll feel much better and most will stand by you. However, with intolerant parents, I’m inclined to take Jack’s advice a step farther and suggest waiting until you finish college or are self-supporting. There are two reasons for waiting that long (which is not so long): one, you continue having loving parents who perhaps plan to help with college, and two, you have more time to explore your sexuality. Female sexuality is very different from male sexuality. Some gay females do appear to be “born” gay — and this might be you. But whereas males tend to be either straight or gay with little in between, brain research shows that most females can be fluid in their sexuality and can change from straight to gay to bi and back again. (See our column JAN 14, 2009.) Because of this, “gay” or “bi” females should be hesitant about labeling themselves too quickly. Explore the Web sites recommended above. Research the neuroscience on female sexuality. Get some more life under your belt, stay mindful of inner experiences, see what settles out. Then decide what and when to tell parents such as yours.