Hey, my name is Virginia and I'm 14. I'm not sure of my sexuality, but I know I'm not straight, which I'm very open with at school and with all my friends. However, I'm not out to my parents. I sort of decided I wouldn't tell them until I was 100% sure, but I feel like they should know since so many of my peers do. I know you're not supposed to come out until you're ready, but can I be out to my school and not my family?
-Question submitted by Anonymous
The short answer here is: you can absolutely be out to your friends at school before being out to your family, and there is nothing wrong with making that choice if it is what feels best to you right now.
However, there is a little more to this dilemma, which I am going to take in two parts. First, let’s talk about waiting until you are “100% sure.” I get it, I reallllllyyy get it, but I don’t know that there is a guarantee that you will ever get to 100% on the SURE-ABOUT-IT meter, you know? Some of us do get there, but not all of us, and as someone who hasn’t ever felt SURE about one word lasting for my lifetime, I can tell you it is okay to never make it to 100%! I’ve been talking about this a bunch lately, but I think it bears repeating – our desires and identities and sexualities can change over time, and that doesn’t make any identity on our life’s continuum any less valid than any other identity! Meaning, if you come out to your parents today as ‘not straight,’ that is enough of a descriptor, and you don’t have to stay inside of those particular words forever.
Your parents likely don’t expect that you will only talk to them at the ‘end points’ of your life journeys. For starters, most of these journeys don’t have clean ‘end points,’ and I’d imagine most parents would want to be a part of the experience, the questions, and the beautiful parts that come in the in-betweens. If you think that your parents will be accepting of your sexuality overall, then telling them you don’t know exactly who you are yet, but that you know you aren’t straight, is a damn fine way to come out!
Second, I want to talk about the conflict you might be feeling in keeping something about yourself from your parents. This kind of decision is a really hard one to make, because you are negotiating between wanting to feel ready, and also wanting to feel like you can be open about who you are with people that you probably interact with a lot, and who also probably mean a whole bunch to you. It really is a tough call to make, which is why it is so personal to each person’s experience, and why it is so important to check in with yourself often about how you’re feeling.
The way I view it, you are weighing the feelings against each other to see which is the best decision for your heart and your wellbeing at the moment. If the weight of keeping something from your parents starts to be the bigger, more cumbersome feeling, then I think it is good to consider coming out (even if, as we talked about up there, you aren’t 100% certain of your identity just yet). Now, of course, if you are afraid that your parents will be very upset, or take extreme measures, this becomes a very different conversation (and one that involves having a clear plan in place before taking action), but your message doesn’t seem to suggest that this is part of your fear, Virginia. It seems, rather, that this is about timing what is right for you, what’s right for them, and when you should shift to a place of conversation with your family.
If you can, journal about it, or even just spend a few minutes before you fall asleep each night checking in on how you’re feeling. Make a system, even! Maybe you keep a notebook by your bed and you rank your “I want to tell my parents” feelings next to your “I’m not ready” feelings using a numbered scale or by putting a tally in the column that feels stronger to you. Then, over time, you’ll be able to see if those feelings change or if, perhaps, you really are more ready than you’d initially thought.
The bottom line is that there is no “wrong” answer here. This is your process, first and foremost. Your parents will have a process, too, but for now you have to do what makes you feel most comfortable, most safe, and most balanced.
Support our work on Patreon (and get fun stuff, too)!
“Dear Kristin and Dannielle, I am pretty young ( under 15 ) and I’m pretty sure I’m bisexual. I’ve had crushes on girls and guys, but I haven’t told my family anything about it. I think my parents will say ‘You’re to young to know that.’ How do I fix this? Is there some way I can prove it to them? Please help.”
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Dearest most loveliest Anonymous,
First, I want to apologize. I want to apologize that we all live in a world where others (even our own parents!) don’t often believe that we know ourselves, know our own feelings, and speak truth about our identities. This is true no matter how old we are, but when we are young… it’s even worse. I know this. I’ve lived this. I can’t tell you the amount of times I hear people speak about young people as though they have no awareness of their own feelings. I know that you have real, true feelings, and I know and believe that those feelings are valid and important.
Next, I want to tell you the most important thing you need to know: You do not need to prove those feelings, or your identity, to anyone. You can express who you are in whatever way you think makes sense, but if your parents do not believe you, it does not invalidate the realness of you.
Now, I am going to try to help you with ‘what to do,’ though I think this looks different for all of us. If you know that you live in a safe environment – one where you don’t have to worry that your parents will disown you or be abusive in any way to you once you come out to them – then you should think about what you want them to know. A lot of times, when we know that we are bisexual or gay or trans or queer, keeping our identity to ourself feels horrible. It feels like every tiny thing we do, even going to the fridge and eating a cheesestick, is a lie. If this is how you are feeling, then I suggest you write a letter to your parents. Tell them what you’ve told us: that you have had crushes on boys and girls and that you identify as bisexual, that you were hesitant to tell them because you were scared they wouldn’t believe you, and that you realized that they didn’t need to believe you… because you’d still be exactly who you are without that belief. Tell them you would love to have their support. Tell them that you love them. Maybe, if you’re really feeling it, tuck that letter in a copy of This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids.
Lastly: Even if your identity shifts and changes over the years, it will never take away who you are right now. Right now you are an under-15-year-old who has feelings toward more than one gender. No one can ever take that away from you, and we are here to tell you that we believe and support you one million fucking percent.
Hi! Our advice is always free for all to read & watch. Help us keep this gay ship chuggin’ by donating as little as $1/month over here on Patreon. xo
"Hey! I am TERRIFIED of growing up/ moving out. Is this normal???WHAT CAN I DOOOOOO????"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
oooh. The thing is, being terrified of the future and not knowing exactly how to navigate all that is ahead is a thing that does not disappear one day. There are always new things we have to experience and know nothing about.
You’ll get past moving out, you’ll do it and feel awesome and feel capable and feel so much better being on your own and making decisions for you. You’ll get past figuring out how to apply for an apartment and paying taxes and calling your building manager when your toilet overflows. You’ll figure out how to compare grocery store prices, and get past a broken heart. You’ll understand that google maps doesn’t know ANYTHING about short cuts, and someone will yell at you for parking in their spot, this will make you cry. Your bank will NOT warn you about over-drafting, and you WILL pay your electric bill late twice in a row. You will call your parents sobbing, you will ask to borrow money when you feel FAR TOO OLD to be borrowing money. Then you will lose your job, a job you LOVED, you’ll turn down hanging out with friends because you can’t afford it, you’ll take a job you hate, and you’ll get past it. You will get a flat tire in the middle of the night, you will get on the wrong train, you will be convinced you fell in love with someone on that train, you’ll know for certain you were on that wrong train for a reason, you’ll write a missed connection, you won’t get a response, you’ll feel defeated for weeks over this person you never even ACTUALLY interacted with, you’ll get past that, too.
Life is just trial and error. You fuck up, you learn from it, you move on, you do the best you can. Growing up is fucking hard and no one EVER says that… Although, I guess they also don’t tell us it’s hard, but we can do it.
And yes, Anonymous, it is completely and totally and one million percent normal to be afraid of things that we don’t yet understand. It is one of the defining pieces of being a human being, in fact.
We all stumble through this life, sometimes feeling courage and other times feeling fear, and all the while learning how our own personal brain and heart manage those feelings, and how we can help them along as we face new things for the first time.
In six days, we have a book coming out. I have never written a book… nor have I been a part of a book release, or anything like it. My brain and heart are both excited for this big change, sure… but I am also terrified, and in a kind of daze where I may as well be walking into walls. I’ve had a couple anxiety attacks, even. Change is scary and hard, even when that change is the most incredible thing that has ever happened in your entire life.
So, yes, your feelings make sense.
As for what you might do with those feelings, I can only tell you what I have learned along the way… and that is to have a conversation with myself. I ask myself what is making me so scared. I look at that fear and really think about where it is coming from. That helps me accept it for what it is, even if the rumblings of being afraid are still present, and sometimes it actually helps make the fear go away. The other part is the leap. In six days, Dannielle and I will leap. When you move out, that will be one of your leaps. I have found that the fear is something that exists most strongly before the leap — once you put things in motion, you then start to know what the reality feels like, and so the fear goes away. In its place comes a new and fucking fantastic part of your life.
Don’t forget! Through Sept. 8th, every single pre-order for This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids will be matched by our publisher, Chronicle Books, with a donated book to a local PFLAG Chapter!!!!
"Is it weird that I’m 25 and I still have a blanket (a child’s security blanket)? How do I explain it to a partner without coming across as a weirdo?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Can I say no?? I don’t think it’s weird? I also don’t think it needs explaining?? I have a bear (his name is big gay bear) that, until very recently, I took with me on every overnight trip. I don’t give a eff, I like having a thing in my arms and MY BOYFRIEND GAVE HIM TO ME 11 YEARS AGO. So… *middle fingers to the sky*
I know so many adults with stuffed animals or blankets or old t-shirts, or whatever. A ton of people have tiny tokens that they sleep with, you just have to OWN it.
If I was making out with a girl and we were falling asleep and she was like, “You have to move over bc that’s where blankie sleeps” I would laugh hysterically and then make out with her ever more hardcore. It’s like, yea, it’s silly, but who cares. We are all silly in one way or another.
AGREEEEEEEE, I love you and your blanket and I am mad at you if the blanket has a name and you didn’t tell us. You know?! Is it called HELENA? Is it called STEVIE? Ugh. My blanket would be named Monkey, just for the record.
Your partner says, “Hey what is that?” and you say, “This is my blanket RHODA and I’ve had it since I was a kid and it makes me feel calm and I will always love it more than you and that has to be okay otherwise this is over.”
Are Dannielle and I off-base here?
Doesn’t everyone need a little tactile comfort sometimes?!
You better be 97 and still have that blanket…
Goddammit an old lady with her childhood baby blanket just made me tear up.
You’re the best. Miss you.
"I want to come out as bi but I’m only 14 and people might think I’m confused. Should I come out now or wait a while longer?"
Question submitted by youdontknowwhoiam124
The fact of the matter is, people “might think you’re confused” regardless of your age. I have friends who figured out they might be gay when they were 28 and people asked if they were sure they JUST HADN’T FOUND THE RIGHT GUY… This is real life, people.
It sucks because some of the world is super accepting and supportive. HOWEVER, another large part of the world sees your being bi as something DIFFERENT, which means, while they might not think it’s the worst thing in the world, they still want you to know there is an option to NOT BE THAT WAY.
It’s a little effed up, yea, but I think it happens to all of us regardless of age. If you feel comfortable enough to come out, I think you should. You don’t come out for people around you, you come out for you. That is what is important here. There will be questions / concerns / comments from people, sure, but keep in mind that YOU know yourself. Even if your mind changes in 15 minutes, this is exactly who you are right now. This is not a phase, you are not confused. You are you.
Dannielle skewered the heart of that matter really well: you come out for you.
We are two grown-ass ladies and we can tell you that we know for a fact that your identity when you are 14 years old is just as valid as your identity when you are 35 years old. Sure, maybe I have some more life-experience than I had when I was 14, and maybe I view the world differently because of it, but that does NOT invalidate who I was at 14. At all.
It sounds to me like you want to come out, and that you are feeling very sure about who you are — so I would encourage you to tell whomever you want, however you want. Even if your identity changes a bit as the years go by — that does not reflect poorly on you, or mean that you were ‘wrong’ about who you are right now.
No matter who we are, the way we view ourselves and the world around us changes as time passes. This ‘phase’ bullshit is exactly that: bullshit. Growing, learning, expressing those views and feelings, that is life. It’s not a fucking phase.
Go get ‘em.