By Kristin, age 15, California
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
Have you (or anyone you know) ever struggled with their sexual identity? We girls are brought up to assume that we'll like boys, but some of us don't fit into that assumption. So what happens then?
Being SureHere's the secret - you don't have to be! Sexuality is fluid. While you may be attracted to one gender right now, you may be attracted to someone else at another time in your life. You may mostly like one gender, but happen to like someone of the other gender - that's ok! It's ok to be whoever you are and be attracted to whomever you happen to be attracted to at that moment.
Coming Out (Or Staying In)So you're confused about your sexuality (or you aren't confused - you know) and you don't know who to talk to about it. If you choose to confide in someone about this, you need to be sure that: 1. You are physically safe telling said person about this (unfortunately, I have to say this because some people are very homophobic), and 2. you can tell someone you trust to not "out" you to those you don't want to be outed to. These are the criteria you should look for in a confidante.
I told my uncle (whom I'm very close to) and he said, "I figured you might be", and he didn't tell anyone. Four months later I told my dad, mom, and grandmother, all of whom also were fine with it and had suspected it, so it was pretty easy for me, but it may not be for some people. It's ok to not come out if you don't feel comfortable doing so. It doesn't mean that you're ashamed of who you are, and it doesn't mean that you'll lie about it forever, but some teenagers feel more comfortable waiting until they are no longer financially dependent upon their parents. As far as coming out to friends, I can't give advice in this area as I don't have a lot of friends - I'm home schooled! I do have a best friend, but I haven't told her yet. I'm just not ready and I know that it's best to wait until I'm comfortable to tell her. If you think your friends will be fine with it, try to find a good time to bring it up. For example, lunch at school might not be the best time. It would be better to find someplace private. Understand that they may not take it well at first, but if they are true friends, they'll be ok with it in time.
Joining the MovementMany high schools have GSA meetings (Gay Straight Alliance) where you can feel safe and comfortable talking to other teens who accept you for who you are. If your high school does have one, find out when the meeting is and just join them. You'll be welcome. You don't have to say anything at the first meeting if you don't want to. Just listen, observe, and if it seems like an accepting place with nice people, try going back and talking next time. If your high school doesn't have a GSA, there may be one at a local youth center. You can find a directory and info about starting a GSA at http://www.gsanetwork.org, or you can start one at your school.
Joining the Online MovementThis part is easier. You can do it right now! Online communities are often a saving grace for LGBT teens. Here's a list of links of places I personally find to be reliable, safe, and of good integrity.
Scarleteen is not a gay site. I personally think that all teens should check it out. It has lots of reliable info, and the message boards are also a good place to get advice or just talk to people.
This About.com section is a great informational website, with information specifically tailored to LGBT youth.
Mogenic is the largest gay and lesbian teen social networking site there is, and is a cool place to talk to other teens just like you.
Trevor Space is a social networking site started by The Trevor Project, a suicide hotline for LGBT youth. I've talked to some really nice people on this site.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, or just need someone to talk to, call The Trevor Project helpline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)
As with all social networking sites, there are always risks. Keep your common sense, and it's not recommended to meet in person with people you meet online.
Being an AllyEven if you aren't LGBT yourself, you may have friends who are, and sometimes the process our friends go through is just as difficult as going through it yourself. If you have friends who are LGBT (or just support gay rights) you can join your school's GSA too and be what's called a straight ally. If you were raised to believe that being gay is wrong, then it sometimes can be hard to accept a friend coming out to you. It's ok to have reservations - your friend will surely understand - but it's also important to show your friend that you still care about them, and to remember that they are the same person they were 5 seconds before they told you, but now they're being honest with you.
I've learned a lot about who I am as a person in the past few months, and I feel more at peace with myself and my life than ever before because of it. In the past, I always had this dream of what my life would be like ... the classic lifestyle: a husband, 2.2 children, a happy family ... then I realized I was gay. I felt like the rug was being pulled out from under me, like I'd had my life planned out and then it all changed. But I now realize that I hadn't changed in that way. So I adjusted the way I thought about it. I didn't think of being a lesbian as being a bad thing anymore, thinking instead that it was simply different from what I had known.
To read my witty commentary, check out my online journal: gaygirlblog.tumblr.com