To the first question probably not. And to the second everywhere.
Many teens say they have more straight friends now that they’re “out,” and that they’re a lot happier and more confident since coming out. It’s easier to be close to people when you’re not hiding anything andmwhen you’re comfortable with yourself.
Some teens, however, have had horrible experiences coming out at school. Particularly in small towns or rural areas, and where there are a lot people belonging to fundamentalist religions, discrimination against GLBT people is still strong. And kids can be very cruel, especially when they’re unsure of themselves and are looking for ways to build themselves up. They can harass you and make your life miserable. GLBT teens have a very high drop-out rate because of the way they’re treated.
If you want come out to friends, be careful to trust only friends who will respect your privacy and confidentiality. Friends who tend to gossip can cause problems, even if they don’t mean to hurt you.
Some friends will be supportive right away. (Both guys and girls say it’s generally easier to come out to girls.) One or two friends might have already guessed that you’re not straight or that you are transgendered. You may find that you already have GLBT friends, and didn’t know it.
Some friends may need time to adjust to the idea of your being GBLT. Some may wonder if your coming out to them is a way of coming on to them, and that might make them feel uncomfortable. Some may wonder, since you’re a close friend and you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, whether they’re GLBT too. Just as you did with your parents, try to think about how each friends are likely to feel, and how you can let them see that you haven’t changed. Just as with your parents, offering them some of the books listed in the back of this booklet can help.
Talking to GLBT friends about their coming out experiences can also help. Finding new friends who are GLBT is really important – friends who know exactly what you’re going through because they’ve “been there,” or are in the process of coming out themselves.
GLBT youth organizations are a good place to start, because there you won’t have to try to figure out whether another teen is GLBT or not. Most major cities have GLBT youth organizations where you’ll be able to meet people easily. You’ll find new friends with whom you can share experiences and support and learn more about yourself.
If you’re in a small town or in the country, it may be harder to find groups like these. In that case, you can get in touch with peers through the youth listservs and hotlines listed in the back of this booklet. The organizations in the resources directory can also help you find more specific groups, such as organizations of GLBT African Americans, Arabs, Asians, or Latinos, or support groups for GLBT people with disabilities.
And remember even if it seems to you that you must be the only GLBT person at your school, you aren’t. With as much as 10% of the population being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, there are other GLBT students at your school whom you might already know but not know that they’re GLBT or whom you might not yet have met. People joke sometimes about having “gaydar,” a type of “radar” for telling who is and isn’t GLBT. Figuring out who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered if they’re not completely “out,” is like figuring out if someone’s interested in you. Sometimes you can tell, sometimes you can’t.
Adapted from “Be Yourself: Q&A for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgendered Youth” written by PFLAG