Sometimes part of being you, is accepting your sexual identity, and figuring out how to share that part of your identity with your loved ones and friends.
Today I want to talk about some resources that you can use if you are LGBTQ or questioning. In true Real Talk fashion, I need you all to #JoinTheDiscussion on this one. I have been reaching out to people and resources to identify some useful tools that might help you when you decide you are ready to talk to your parents and family and friends. The thing is this, though, you out there are likely to have better tips and suggestions that any online resource I can find to share with you. So, PLEASE, use the comments section to share those with everyone else (remember, anonymous is welcome!).
A few general facts.
The average age of “coming out” is now mid-late teens, and the average age of knowing that one is LGB is 13. Of course, these ages are just averages – some people know a lot younger or older, and the same is true with coming out.
LGBTQ teens have higher risks for bullying, addiction, intimate partner violence, and suicide, especially if not given the support and acceptance that they need and deserve. Just remember, though, that your family likely has had ideas and preconceptions about what your future will hold and look like, and they know that being LGBTQ can be really, really hard even though society is growing more and more tolerant slowly. So this will be a process; and they will need to educate themselves so that they can be as supportive as possible. You can show them some of the websites too, since there is a lot of information that can help them support you. Here is one great example:
- from PFLAG for parents - Q AND A FOR PARENTS OF LGBT YOUTH
- This is a great document for families – that addresses facts and misconceptions about LGBT and arms families with tips to support their loved ones who have come out to them. There are a lot more great resources on the PFLAG website.
Now, resources especially for you:
- Although this was written for holiday stresses, there are a lot of thoughtful tips about coming out to family here. Tips like: “Remember that “coming out” is a continuous process. You may have to “come out” many times.”
- The Trevor Project is another great resource – this particular link takes you right to supportive information about coming out. There are little worksheets you can do that help you think throught the process – you may decide after working your way through it that the time is not right for you to come out. That is OK! Check out the other great resources they have too.
- This section on the Planned Parenthood website also has a lot of great info for teens. There is info on figuring out sexual identity and orientation, as well as resources for coming out.
OK, that’s what I’ve got for you. Now I am asking you to help your fellow teens in the comments section here….
- Have you spoken to your family about your sexual identity?
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- Were your friends accepting?
- Have you found any websites that are informative?
Remember, you aren’t alone (most estimates are that 1 in 10 people are gay) – and neither are the people that you may want to come out to (70% or people personally know an LGBTQ person!).