Thanks for writing in to us at AlterHéros. From your post, it sounds like you’re struggling with your coming out to your parents and close friends as lesbian and that you’re trying to figure out what to do now and how to get help.
First of all, a great big pat on the back for your bravery and a comforting hug for reassurance. You did something really amazing by opening up to your family and friends and deserve a lot of praise for your actions. There are people who wait for years and years before they muster up the courage to reveal their sexual orientation to even one person, let alone their family or close friends. You have our support and we are proud of you!
When it comes to coming out to parents, this can be a very tricky situation. Because you are still fairly young (even though you’re 14, your family probably still sees you as a little girl!), your parents might not take your feelings seriously. It could be because they think your lack enough experience to know what you want in terms of a partner or in any other sphere of your life (e.g. future studies, job prospects etc…). As well meaning as they might be, parents often assume that they know what is best for their kids, even if they have no idea what their kids are dealing with. For now, the best thing you can do is continue living your life as you see best. If you fantasise about being with other women and you want be with them, then keep dating women. Hold strong to who you are and let your parents come to terms with the fact that you being a lesbian is not a phase. If you behave like a mature adult, they will hopefully start seeing you as one and treating you as one as well. Be warned though that this might take a while and that you have to give them the time to adjust to seeing you as an adult. Though it might be difficult, really make an effort to not flip out on them if they keep not believing you. If you do, they’ll continue seeing you as a whiny, confused, dramatic kid who can’t control her temper and you’ll have to start all over again to convince them that you are a mature young adult.
As for your friends, the fact that they rejected you after you came out to them sucks. The whole point of being friends with people is so that you can count on them during the good times and the bad. To be fair to them though, being on the receiving end of a coming out can be pretty freaky. In your post, you didn’t specify how your friends rejected you. Did they stop talking to you and ignore your attempts to get in touch with them after you came out? Or did they go out of their way to make you feel bad? Keep in mind that when you come out to someone, they might freak out a little because they think that your relationship with them will change. If you feel that this is the case, you have to give your friends time to process the news, reassure them that you’re the same person and also be there to support them if they have questions or concerns. There will be an adjustment period so try to sit tight and keep in touch with them if you can to remind them that you’re the same great friend as always, just that you like girls instead of guys. You can also reassure any female friends that just because you’re a lesbian, you aren’t crushing on them. It may seem silly but it is a very common concern!
If, however, your friends are being outright mean or homophobic towards you, you might not want to have friends who treat you so disrepectfully. If in any way you feel harassed, try talking to a guidance counsellor at your school to help you if you all go to the same school. Being a lesbian does not make it okay for anyone to give you a hard time so we strongly encourage you to find an adult that you can trust who can help you deal with the situation.
In terms of getting help, there are many resources available to you if you search online. You chose to indicate that you live in Canada but not which province. Please feel free to write again to let us know what area you live in so that we can give you more specific resources (we’ll keep this information confidential). For now, we leave you with two nation wide groups that you can look in to. The first one is PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) which is an organisation that helps families work through the coming out process of a loved one. They will be able to give you tips on how to talk to your parents and you may even decide to participate in some of their events. Another website that has a listing of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Queer) groups within different regions in Canada can be found on mygsa.ca. This website is actually dedicated to starting up Gay Straight Alliances within high schools but their resource page is great because they sort organisations by province so that you can search and find what help is available near you.
Hopefully we were able to answer your questions Jamie. Again, kudos for coming out to your family and friends; you’re really brave and courageous for having done so. If anything new comes up or you have any additional questions or information for us, please feel free to write again. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and good luck!
Kay Wo for AlterHéros