Problem page archive entries:
August 2014 - February 2015
Name [Matt] Age  Gender [M]
Can you help me with a good way to explain to my work colleagues that I am gay. It seems a hard subject to approach as alot of them seem to be homophobic in their humour.
Casual homophobia is common, unfortunately, though I’ve found that there’s often no malicious intent behind it. I remember when I first came out to some colleagues in one of my first jobs after leaving college. I got on well with the lads there - all quite ‘manly’ and boisterous. They teased each other using homophobic language all the time but were very apologetic about that when they realised I was gay. They still had the occasional slip-up afterwards and it became quite funny how the perpetrator would immediately turn to me and apologise. For the first time, perhaps, they became conscious of the words they were using and how they might affect someone else. Homophobic language is never okay, and it is right to challenge it regardless of whether you choose to come out or not.
The use of homophobic language doesn’t mean that you are surrounded by bigots - as bizarre as that sentence sounds. Your colleagues may just be products of their environment and the casual homophobia that seems to be considered acceptable by many, if considered at all. I think most people simply don’t realise what they’re doing or the power of those words.
On the other side of the coin, maybe your colleagues are homophobic and have a genuine issue with gay people. I can’t say. Maybe you have a sense of whether it’s a case of thoughtless use of language or deliberate bigotry. Whatever the case, that should not preclude your coming out. It’s obviously important to you to be open with colleagues and it certainly makes life easier when the topic of partners/marriage/kids comes up down the pub after work. Coming out can make for a more relaxed and confident gay person, and a happier worker. There are laws and protections in place to ensure that your place of work is as safe and productive after coming out as it was before, so don’t let the fear of bullying compromise your wellbeing.
Name [Conrad] Age  Gender [M]
I have been very exclusive of who knows that I am gay, and so far that is just me. I was born and raised to know only one type of relationship, heterosexual. Hence, I was aware that being different could be either really great or really horrible. Regardless, I have never been in a relationship either way. I was never really attracted to girls (especially now), and I knew that I would be bullied for vocalizing my attraction to boys. Well, now I'm 16 and this guy, Ryan, has stolen my heart. I've known him for only a few months now (as friends), but every part of me (except my brain, sometimes) screams TRY! He is gay, and he is showing all the signs of liking me, but should I come out for one guy? What if we don't work out, and I have to carry on these next two years of high school as the gay kid? I know others have tread through harsher roads, but I'm afraid of switching from smooth travel paths to unforgiving switchback trails. I have always had this fear with me, but Ryan seems to be the first guy to ever get in between that ultimatum. I've had crushes before, but that is all they were - crushes. Ryan, something about him makes me happy and alive. I feel secure and exhilarated, warm and nervous in a good way whenever I am around him. Based on this what would you recommend? Come out or play it safe until my college/adult years (since I'll be cut free from most of the weight of social entanglements - high school)? Thank you!
I say: live! Being in a romantic relationship with a guy doesn’t have to mean coming out on the same day. Maybe Ryan isn’t ready to shout about being gay either. What's important is how you feel about each other, not what other people know about it. Of course, creeping around in secret isn’t much fun and people are bound to speculate if they see you behaving like a couple does and, trust me, it’s hard to hide that kind of spark and chemistry. However, with a bit of planning and caution there’s nothing to stop you exploring a relationship without announcing your sexuality to the world. Long term, this kind of caution can stifle relationships, but it’ll be a while before you need to tell your folks because you’re moving in with Ryan!
I think coming out is a separate issue. It’s something you’re anxious enough about that you'd consider missing out on being close to Ryan to ensure the closet stays shut tight. That’s a big sacrifice, and for what? So Joe in the other class doesn’t call you fag? F**k him! More constructively, report him. Would it be so awful if people knew? You’d be free to do what you like because it would already be yesterday’s news. It would be a huge weight off your mind. But I know it’s rarely as straightforward as that. See my coming out section for more.
Name [Lily] Age  Gender [F]
I have a girlfriend and I think I am bisexual or pan-sexual but im not sure. I find it difficult to talk to anyone about it because no one else I know is gay. My girlfriend loves almost 4 hours away from me and I just want her to be with me. Whenever I try to talk to my parents about it they just say "Bisexuality is just a trend now" and it makes me feel horrible. I just really don't know what to do or who to talk to. Are there any places I can go to talk to people in similar situations?
What your parents said was dismissive and unkind. Being in a romantic relationship with someone because it’s trendy isn’t a thing; you can’t summon romantic love and physical desire simply because it’s convenient. To claim such a thing is the same as saying that sexuality is a choice, that we decide which way to swing for our own reasons. We don’t. Your feelings for your girlfriend are real and valid, and I’m sorry they have not been taken seriously at home. Have you tried talking to your folks about how their flippant remark hurt you and how it doesn’t reflect your experience? It may be worth trying, especially if your parents are usually supportive and approachable about delicate matters. It’s usually better to try to improve relationships with family rather than become secretive and withdrawn from them.
I know how isolated being 14 and not straight can feel, but you can bet you’re not alone, though others may choose to conceal their sexuality. If you want to make gay/bi/pan friends, my youthgroup listing may be a good start. Online groups can be a comfort and outlet too. Outside of that, Google is your friend: maybe there’s a group or a useful resource in your area.
Looking to the future, collages and universities often have LGBT groups, and the gay scene offers social opportunities once you’re 18. It’s hard to be patient, but even straight 14 year olds have to hold their horses. You’ll meet loads of people throughout life and gain the freedom to figure out where and with whom you belong, but you’ll have to have a little patience and make best use of the resources you do have. Don’t discount the support of straight friends if, indeed, you need support at all (being non-straight doesn’t mean you automatically need therapy!). Give your parents another chance. Call your girlfriend when you’re feeling lonely. Research local groups and services. Have fun with friends and try to leave your sexuality worries at home; it’s okay to have fun with people who don’t ‘get it’. People don’t need to understand your sexuality to be good friends who bring something positive into your life. The fact that they give a shit can be a comfort in itself. Make plans for the future so that you have more access to what you need. Have things to look forward to. What are your girlfriend's plans? How can you be together more? There are lots of positive things to think about.
Name [Liam] Age  Gender [M]
I have had fantasies about a friend for some time now, I have fantasized about other men too. But i feel attracted to women more so than men. What should i do about this? Does this make me gay?
If you find both men and women sexually attractive then that makes you bisexual, not gay. I’ve not met any bisexual person who said that they were equally attracted to both genders; they prefer one to the other. It sounds like you lean more toward women, while acknowledging that same-sex attraction is a big part of who you are too. That’s very common. For more about bisexuality, see the dedicated page.
Name [Alexander] Age  Gender [M]
So me and my stepbrother have done a few sexual things in the past and nearly got caught one time and it nearly ripped the family apart but we managed to get out if it by lying. I constantly feel paranoid and terrible about it, it happened again tonight and I Couldn't feel worse. I think it's because I miss the intimacy I had with my ex but he wasn't overly nice to me and cheated a bit. I'm not exactly certain what I'm hoping to get back from writing all this to be honest. I'm going to promise to myself it won't happen again but maybe some advice from you wouldn't go amiss either, thank you in advance.
This is a tricky one. I don’t know much about your situation from your email. Perhaps one of your parents recently remarried and you’ve found yourself suddenly sharing your space with new people of your age, one of whom you share a mutual attraction with. Assuming you do not share any biological parents (and for the purpose of this reply I will) then I don’t think it’s true incest but you are related, however recently or thinly. A definition of incest on Google dictionary just told me that it’s sex between two people who are too closely related to marry. I’m glad I’m not a lawyer.
If this is just a sexual thing, and something you’ve fallen into because you’re missing your ex, then I think it’s best to be strong-willed and avoid future sexual activities with your step brother. There are plenty of guys out there in the world, whether you’re looking for something casual or something longer-term. The same goes for him. It’ll save both of you a lot of trouble if you look outside of the family home for sexual release. Don’t feel guilty: you’re just two horny guys who fancy each other, clashing with these massive conventions and expectations that limit you. He’s as random as any guy down the pub that you like, but there are rules here that others have put in place that say what this guy can and can’t be; it must be very frustrating at times. Any physical attraction between you would have best been ignored and handled differently, but the fact that you caved in to your feelings doesn’t make either of you bad people.
You don’t say that you've developed romantic feelings for each other, so I’m happy that I don’t have to tackle that one because I’m at a loss as to what I’d say! There’s the ‘technically you’re not related, really’ argument, versus the ‘shit, you’re shagging your brother’ angle.
If you're feeling hot and bothered late at night then I suggest you pop to the bathroom and deal with it alone from now on. It’ll be much less trouble for you both in the long run.
Name [Tony] Age  Gender [M]
I have been with my partner for 8 years now and we live together. Since being in this relationship both of us has lost friends for some reason. We just drifted apart or we just didn't make time to spend time with friends. I have tried a group but it didn't feel right. I suppose I am trying to admit I feel lonely.
It’s important not to forget friends when entering into a romantic relationship. The cynical angle is that you may need their support one day if things don’t work out, but it’s also good to have an ongoing balance in your life and a variety of social opportunities. Spending time away from your partner and enjoying the personalities and perspectives of others is healthy. Some couples like to spend every waking moment together, and that works for them, but you’re telling me that you’re lonely and you seem to miss the presence of friends. Is it possible to put some new energy into lapsed friendships? It’s easy to imagine that people are resentful because you’ve not been in touch, but you may find a warm welcome if you pick up the phone or send an email. I assume they haven’t made as much effort as they could have either. You may well be in a stalemate situation with old friends and someone needs to break it.
As for groups, what was it that didn’t feel right? Was it a gay group? Perhaps that’s the problem. Unless it’s particularly important to have new gay friends, and since you’ve already found your Mr Right, why not join a group that’s based on a shared interest rather than a shared sexuality? I use www.meetup.com. They have groups of every kind you can think of, with stuff going on all over the country. I’m off to a vegan group on Thursday, just down the road from me. It’s also worth keeping in mind that nurturing new friendships and finding a place in an established group requires effort and consistency. I’m guilty at times of turning up to things and expecting to meet 10 soulmates and have an effortless evening of easy chemistry. At a group it’s more likely you’ll find a mixed bunch of personalities - some to your taste, some not - and you’ll have to do a certain amount of musical chairs and being very polite when you get stuck next to someone you don’t much care for. Go a few times and don’t write it off until you can honestly claim you explored it deeply enough to know that it’s not for you and that there was no hope of friendship(s) sparking. And then try another group. What about an evening class?
Is there anyone at work who you get on with well? That’s something else I’ve done recently is invite a friend from work to dinner, and we hadn’t done that before. Some people like to keep work and play separate, but I don’t think there are any real reasons why someone you get on with in the office can’t become a chum past 5:30.
Name [H] Age  Gender [F]
This is hard for me to write. Age 22, I have finally started to face the thing that I have repressed since I was around 15. I think I am gay.
I have been too scared to admit it to myself, and growing up picked up on many cues telling me that it isn’t OK to be gay which confounded the issue. I am pretty sure that repressing it (amongst other things) this has led to an eating disorder and quite bad anxiety, because in a non-acceptance of who I am.
I have had countless what I can only describe as crushes/obsessions about girls, which I have always denied are such, yet I have never really had these sorts of feelings for men. I feel different to my friends in this respect and can’t relate to their conversations about men.
I am, never-the-less in a year and a half relationship with a guy who I have been telling myself I love, but am starting to wonder whether I just see him as a really great friend. I’ve been feeling for a while that something is amiss and have finally let myself think that this is it.
I feel like I am stuck in a web. I have never done anything with a girl, and wonder if I can really know I am gay if I haven’t. I feel like I want to experiment, but I really don’t want to ruin my relationship. I can’t imagine what my coming out would do to my boyfriend, and I really do care for him. But it is even worse to go on living a lie. But I don’t know if I know for sure and I can’t justify ruining it and doing that to him if I am not fully sure.
Additionally my younger brother has been out for 2 years, and whilst the family haven’t blinked an eyelid, and totally accept him, I am worried what two gay children would make our parents think. Plus he came out so much earlier in his than me won’t I be really judged for this? I also can’t stand to think about the gossip that will occur in the wake of this.
I’m just after some advice, I don’t have a clue where to start but I don’t think I can keep this bottled up much longer.
Well done for admitting that you feel this way. You have identified that you are likely gay, that you feel a certain way about women and that you don’t have those same feelings toward men. You also identify some mental health issues that have been caused by the worry and distress over your sexuality and in keeping it from others. This all makes a very good case for taking steps to come out, make some big changes, and shift life into a more positive direction where you can be open with others and get the things you need. Yet you are reluctant to end your current relationship with a man and are concerned that you can’t be sure about your sexuality because you haven’t yet experienced a romantic encounter with a women. Worry over what other people will think is also ensuring you stay trapped in your current self-imposed situation.
Firstly, you do not need to so much as tap a woman on the shoulder to know what you desire. I knew I wanted to be with a man well before I ever got near to having sex with one. Opposite sex attraction is just accepted at face value; I bet nobody asked you whether you were sure when you started dating your boyfriend. Why do we treat same-sex desire with such suspicion and doubt? Besides which, you are 22 and not a confused 12 year old. You fancy women - the end.
Secondly, you can’t throw your life away because you don’t want to upset people or rock the boat. What a terrible waste that would be. Get married, have kids, lie to everyone for the next 50 years. Nope. Your boyfriend deserves someone who truly lusts after him and can love him completely, as only a straight women can, just as you deserve to experience true and total love. You say you have been telling yourself that you love him, but that’s a far cry from the real thing. If this guy doesn’t make you weak at the knees and doesn’t fulfill you in every way you need, sexually and emotionally, then it’s not right to continue in this relationship. You’re not a bad person, but it’s dishonest to continue.
By trying to please everyone you are putting the real you in a box but you’re going to have to come out if you’re going to move forward. You probably knew I wasn’t going to say “Carry on as you are, no problems here”, and I won’t pretend that fixing things is going to be easy. You’re facing breaking up with someone you care for and dealing with his hurt and surprise at your previously hidden sexuality, as well as coming out at home and beyond. You’re not the first family to have more than one gay offspring, but your news will almost certainly cause surprise and perhaps a different reaction to your brother’s coming out. Your folks may have placed additional emphasis on you as ‘the one who’s going to have kids’, for example (you can still have kids, though). On the plus side, your parents clearly aren’t homophobic and will likely make adjustments to their expectations in the same way they did before. As for gossips, there’s nothing you can do about them, or the way anyone behaves. You lose control of your news once you let it out. That’s life. When facing idiots, find strength in the fact that you’ve done nothing wrong and will have conjured immense courage to be who you really are.
You are not a deceitful and bad person - quite the opposite: you’re so determined to keep everyone happy and live up to their expectations that you have chosen to suffer to ensure it. That makes you amazing.
The next few months might be a bit lively but things will settle down again. Imagine the life you’d like and know that you can have it, if you’re strong and take action. You won’t always be hurting as you are now. Your boyfriend will get over it and be happy again, your family will adjust, and the gossips will move on.
Name [L] Age  Gender [F]
Hi, I've been ruminating on this for a while and I hope you can give me some advice.
I'm a closeted lesbian, a few friends and my cousin are the only few who know but I don't feel comfortable about broaching this topic with them - I feel guilty because I'll never give my parents grandchildren.
I know it can't be helped but I still feel bad - they just bought a bigger house and they want to fill it but I won't be able to do that. My sister is straight and more than willing to raise a family but I'm unable to and it's dumb but I still feel bad.
Do you know anything about adoption in the uk? I know in America that gay couples have difficulties being accepted by adoption agencies - is that the same in the uk?
But then - would my parents accept an adopted child as their own? Or what if my future partner (if I'm lucky enough to find one) doesn't want children?
Please, if you have any advice I'd be eternally grateful. Xx
One thing that struck me about your message is that at no point do you say that you want to be a mother, that it burns in your heart and soul and is an important part of your identity and the future you see for yourself. You talk about having children as something you would do to please other people, out of guilt and a need to fill the spare bedrooms, which are absolutely not good enough reasons to bring new life into this world or have existing little ones move in. Even when mentioning your sister and her potential as a mother, you talk about her ‘being willing’ to raise a family. Making a baby isn’t about being willing. I would hope that if any grandchildren arrive it’s for the right reasons, and not because of a sense of duty or obligation. Parents can end up resenting kids if they come into their lives under stress, and that creates unhappy kids. I’m being quite tough, I know, but this is a topic that astounds me often. It seems that many people have children because they think they’re supposed to and never stop to ask important questions first. Imagine growing up with the sense that your folks only had you because they didn’t know that they were free not to. And kids do know.
Giving unwanted or displaced children a loving home is an amazing thing to do, and that can absolutely be a part of your future. I know next to nothing about adoption or the hurdles potential adopters have to jump over, but I do know that gay couples can adopt in the UK; I met a couple in Brighton a few years ago who have been fostering and adopting for years. If you were to meet the love of your life and mutually decide that you’d like to offer children a fresh start, I’d throw a party for you. But please, no more obligation thinking.
Remember that straight couples sometimes decide not to have kids, for various reasons; some people stay single and don’t have children; some people can’t conceive because of fertility issues etc. There’s no law that says you have to produce offspring; you are free to decide. And at eighteen years old, it’s far too early for these concerns in any practical sense. It’s not long ago that you were a child and you’re still three years away from being allowed into some bars! Slow down.
I’ve thought about being a father, but take quite a pragmatic stance: I’m gay and I won’t be making babies because two men can’t. There are plenty of people who are making babies - too many - and the world doesn’t need me bending the rules. I can use my energy and resources to do other things with the time I have on the planet, like running this website and promoting other issues that are important to me. If I meet Mr Right and we buy a little home together, our family will be comprised of a few rescue dogs.
It’s your body and your life. You are not a grandchildren-production unit. Your parents may have to adjust their expectations - tough! Family comes in all shapes and sizes and it’s up to you what yours will someday look like.
Name [Chelsea] Age  Gender [F]
Hi there. I am a college student who has struggled with accepting my sexuality for a long time. I am Bisexual and have figured as such since I was eight years old. Recently, I have become very good friends with an older woman and the more I hang out with her, the harder I fall for her. there is an age gap of 15 years, which scares me more. I know that she is also bisexual and we talk about it frequently. I have known her a couple years and just in the last six months we have started hanging out a lot and talk nearly everyday. We get along well and can talk about everything. The only thing I do not tell her about is that I myself am bisexual and that I have feelings for her. She thinks I am straight! unless she suspects otherwise, this is what she knows of me is that I portray myself as straight. We recently talked about one of our other good friends and I brought up how I wonder if our friend is also bisexual or even just gay! It was brought up because I had realized I had been hit on by a woman while at a dance club the night before. I portrayed myself as scared of our friend if she is gay, but I was more nervous that the person I have deep, sincere feelings for would find out that I am bisexual myself. She asked if I would be afraid of our friend or even her (the person I like) if it was true. I replied no, and that if I were afraid I would never hang out with them. Which we hang out all the time, so it's clearly not true. I don't know what to do. I feel I would really like to tell her; however, with the 15 year age difference and my inability to tell her that I am bisexual as well is quite frightening to me. I am deeply afraid that I will ruin our great friendship if I attempt to pursue this. I have a spare key to her house and she has told me she trusts me with her life. at the same time I'd like to tell her so I can move on with my life and not worry about it and meet someone else. But I just can't. Every time I try to distance myself, it just doesn't work. I am lost. It hurts me not to talk to someone about it. How do I approach someone in this manner without ruining our friendship?
There seem to be two things that you are choosing not to tell this lady: one, that you are bisexual and two, that you have romantic feelings for her. It’s scary to tell someone that you like them, but I’m not sure what the blockage is around item one. This friend is bisexual herself and you say you talk about that openly. Why the secrecy around your own sexuality with this person? Simply telling her that you like girls doesn’t mean you have to confess your feelings toward her too; you can keep that part separate until you’re ready, if you choose to tell at all. You say this lady trusts you with her home and her life, so surely she’ll keep the news of your sexuality to herself, if that’s what you want at this time. You have a terrific friend who is providing a very safe and supportive environment in which to be open about yourself. I’d encourage you to embrace this wonderful opportunity.
There is a large age gap between you, but you are an adult and your friend is still a young woman, so there’s nothing here that’s going to appear in the papers! What’s really important in a relationship, though, is how well two people get along and connect. But perhaps this isn’t really about sexuality at all, but about the fear of losing a great friendship because shooting for more might not work out. That’s always a risk when friendships cross over into romance, but many couples break amicably and stay friends. At this stage you don’t even know if your friend feels the same anyway, so it’s far too early to worry about a romance not working out.
Try to be more honest with your friend about your sexuality. Has she not earned your trust and honesty? I think nature will take its course after that and you can make better and informed decisions about where things go.
Name [Colin] Age  Gender [M]
Our son came out quite recently and although we do not have a problem with his sexuality, we do have a problem with the way he is meeting people - mostly through dating sites, today for example he told us he was taking the dog out for a walk, which would normally take about half an hour, after about 2 hours we started to get worried and drove round for the next hour or so looking for him and calling his mobile, eventually we discovered that he had met an older man from a dating site and went back to his house which was about 20 miles away. Any ideas how to deal with this would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your email.
How old is your son? If he is under 16, I would get the police involved because the men he's meeting are breaking the law.
I can understand your concern even if he is over 16. Stress to him the potential danger he is in, especially since he's not telling you - and perhaps anyone - about where he's going or who he's meeting. No matter whether he's 16 or 30, it's basic common sense not to meet strangers without telling someone where you are and when you expect to be home, and making sure you are easy to contact. It's also best to meet during the day, or at least in a public place. Going back to someone's house on a first date is risky, and nobody with intentions to nurture a meaningful friendship or relationship will insist on such a move so early. Of course, your son may not be looking for a relationship and has more immediate interests, but he can still do a lot more to protect himself and treat his loved ones with respect.
I'm puzzled by why your son, having been brave and honest enough to come out to you, is now so secretive and engaging in risky behaviour. Coming out usually means a time of greater openness and communication. Since you have accepted your son's sexuality, you will also have accepted that he's likely going to have a boyfriend or two and there's going to be more going on than drinking cocoa and watching soaps together - your son must realise this, so he doesn't need to pretend that sex isn't an interest. The key to understanding your son's behaviour might be in finding out why he thinks he needs to be secretive after taking the difficult step to be the opposite.
Dating sites are not inherently bad. I've used them myself and have met many genuine men. Of course there are sites who deal in 'hook ups', but also sites like www.outintheuk.com who encourage friendship and have a policy about not posting sexual content. A website like www.meetup.com may be of interest to. I've found several groups through this who have regular meets in my home town and, again, are based around nurturing friendships.
I have to also say that many young - and old - people have casual encounters, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as it's safe and both people agree to it. Your son may not want to meet Mr Right at the moment. That can be hard to accept. But the real issue here is his putting himself in potentially dangerous situations and his secrecy at home. I think you'll only get to the root of it by having a talk with your son about his apparent opposing behaviours recently: being open enough to come out, and then kind of going back in!
Name [Ellie] Age  Gender [F]
Hey, I really need help with figuring out my sexuality. As recently my behaviour has been quite reckless and destructive, I have been sleeping with guys to try and convince myself that I am straight. This is never an enjoyable experience for me, but I am not ready to be sexually active with a girl, even though I have kissed girls before. Another thing that scares me is if I am asexual, because I cannot imagine having feelings for neither sex. But I just can't seem to find something that is right for me. Please give me some advice, thanks.
I think what you need is plenty of time, and please stop sleeping with guys. Imagine if someone you really liked went to bed with you, and you had a wonderful time but later found out that the person you slept with does not find you attractive and didn’t enjoy the experience. It would hurt. You’re not a villain, but it’s really not fair to go to bed with someone unless you find that person very attractive and truly want to take things a step further. You’re not enjoying sex with guys and you say you don’t feel ready to have sex with girls either, so slow down and don’t jump into bed with anyone for a bit. Nobody is saying you need to be leaping on people apart from you. Give yourself a break and be kinder to yourself.
Free of the foggy confusion of sexual encounters, you can take as much time as you need to form a greater sense of who you are and what you want. And it’s absolutely okay not to be bothered about either gender or sex in general - some people aren’t. I know the desire is strong to be like others and fit into the narrow slots of straight or gay and to be preoccupied with sex, but maybe you don’t quite fit into all that. That's fine. Sex and sexuality have many other shades and you get to make the rules about your body and who you do or don't share it with. Perhaps someone special will come into your life - male or female - and things will suddenly become crystal clear, or perhaps close friendships without sex will fulfill your needs. Just be as sure as you can before getting into bed with the next person that you really want to, body and mind. And if you don’t fancy climbing into bed for more than a hug and a chat, there are people out there who feel the same.
Things will make more sense as time goes by, but they won’t make sense any sooner by trying to force yourself into situations that feel wrong. When or if you truly desire someone, enough to want to have sex with them, you’ll know about it.
Name [Thomas] Age  Gender [M]
I am a 28 year old guy living in the UK. I have been living here for four years. My family live in Ireland. On a recent recent trip home I came out to my sister. I hadn't intended to there and then but it happened. It was difficult for me to do this as I was bullied by my siblings about being gay when I was a child. When I was a child I told my sister that I was being bullied in school. I had kissed a boy in my class (as a joke) which later got out of hand. Later in arguments, she and my other siblings would call me whatever gay names they could think of. They would sometimes threaten to "tell people" i was gay as a way of hurting me or getting me to do things for them.
It was all part of the fighting and arguments which were part of growing up in my house. It is only looking back now that I can see how unhealthy it was. My parents heard these names being called and while initially shocked, did not ever question me or put a stop to it. My mother (now deceased) was never diagnosed with mental health problems but I can see now that she suffered from depression, rarely left the house and generally isolated herself from the outside world. My father never shows any kind of emotion and was a somewhat distant figure for most of my childhood.
My sister apologised for the way she treated me. We didn't go into details but I explained that I have been angry about my childhood. she has urged me to tell my other siblings.
Back in the UK this week another sister rang me. She said that the first sister told her that I should give her a call. At the time I was completely unprepared for her call and rushing somewhere and I told her I would call her in a few days.
My problem is that I am angry with my family. Every time I have tried to come out properly to them in the past I had physically choked up. It's difficult for me to describe what I was feeling at the time but it's like a mixture of anger, shame, hurt and panic. It's only in the last few years that I've been able to even think about my childhood. Since telling my sister I am gay, feelings of guilt, shame and anger have been churning inside me. It's overwhelming me. I love my family but the negative feelings block out everything I feel for them. I want to come out to my family but I feel like I can't come out without bringing up my childhood. They have all matured into caring, open minded adults. My mind knows that they have no problem with me being gay. The truth is that I don't forgive my siblings and my parents. I don't know if I will ever have the emotional maturity or strength to forgive them. When I look back at my childhood I can't believe that things were allowed to escalate so badly. I suffered from severe anxiety throughout my childhood. There were times when I wanted to kill myself. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of going to university away from home and starting my life. I have suffered with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. I have seen a psychotherapist and while we discussed me being gay I was not able to speak of the homophobic bullying. I have never been able to speak of it to anyone. To even think about it brings up such deep feelings of shame and hurt. Living away from my family has made it easy to avoid the issue but I know I can't forever.
I would really appreciate an outside perspective.
It took me many years to overcome the fallout from my own experiences of homophobic bullying as a child, so I do know how you feel and how hard it is to move on. You and your siblings are adults now and, as you say, they have become caring and open minded. Although your hurt was caused by people - children - who don’t exist anymore, the pain is no less real and present, in all its forms; negative emotions that are stuck, repeating and still causing you distress. As a child you also lacked the support of your parents, so had to fend for yourself with matters that your young self was not equipped to deal with. Again, I can sympathise. I was badly bullied at secondary school. At home, Mum was struggling with mental health issues and was distant and uninvolved. My parent’s marriage was under strain for as long as I can remember, so the home was a tense and brittle place where an already anxious child found little refuge. I began suffering from depression and panic attacks as a teen. I self-harmed and used food - dieting or bingeing - to cope.
Perhaps, given the similarities in our experiences, it might be helpful to tell you how I have dealt with the past and been able to lay some demons to rest.
Firstly, I did eventually tell the perpetrators of my childhood unhappiness exactly how tough those years had been because of their actions. I wrote letters. Phone calls or face-to-face meetings would have been good too - if you think you can do that - but in my case I knew I would have choked up and not been able to say everything I wanted. Letters, constructed over several days, allowed me to cover everything that was important for me to get out. Even the letter writing itself helped me to feel better, to process what had happened in a structured way. It also made me remember some painful details I’d forgotten, so be prepared for a real emotional purge. Try not to be aggressive or lose your temper when communicating with siblings about these issues - and you really do need to communicate this stuff. You don't want to get into arguments because that won't resolve anything and will only make you freshly angry. Calmly explain what you’ve said to me here: that you still hurt over how you were treated and that the repercussions are still affecting you. Explain that you need to get this out in order to move on and be happier. You’ve got some anger and resentment - understandably - that you’d like to be rid of. The power of an apology can be life-changing.
In my case, I got an “I’m sorry you feel that way”, which isn’t really an apology at all. But the process still helped me to move on. Even if the person you are opening up to isn’t willing to accept some blame, it’s a hell of a healer to even tell them how you feel. I bet you suffered in silence most of the time as a child, so you may find that your siblings had little or no idea of the extent of your pain or that their words hit so hard.
Moving forward in life, it’s been very helpful and powerful to think in the following way: This crap happened to me and I didn’t get off to the best start. Now I have two options: 1). I can be a victim, clinging to this anger, and remain trapped by negative thinking that keeps me low and drives other away. 2). Or I can choose not to be defined by what happened in the past. I can interrupt when those negative thought patterns appear, and replace them with something kinder, more balanced and based on facts; I can accept the love of others because I deserve it; I can have the life I want, even if it is a little harder for me because of a tendency to depression; the bullies who won’t even remember my name by now do not get to screw up my life, 10 or 20 or 30 years after the bullying etc. etc.
Remembering that core choice is something that comes into my head every few weeks, usually when I am feeling a bit sorry for myself. I certainly did spend my 20s and early 30s being a professional victim. It was comfortingly familiar: the bullies had gone, so I stepped in to replace them, beating myself down with negativity and anger - anger I released on myself. The names I would call myself for simply breaking a cup...
Counselling has also helped, from time to time. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) has been useful. I got that on the NHS and it helped me break negative thinking habits that kept me down, almost like carrying a school bully on my shoulder all the time, sapping my happiness and ever-ready to step in when I was in danger of enjoying myself. If sitting around talking about your childhood isn’t helping you to feel better - and there comes a time when it likely won’t move you further forward - I’d encourage you to explore the more practical approach of CBT, learning techniques you can apply immediately in your daily life. Ask your doctor.
You are an emotional volcano waiting to go off, and you won’t feel happier or less angry if you don’t start talking to those with the power to help you to move on. The biggest chunk of responsibility lays on your shoulders, though. You need to let go, even if you don’t get all the answers or the response you were hoping for from your siblings. You had a crappy beginning but that does not have to mean a crappy middle and a crappy end. You can decide that the rest of your life is not defined by the past. Once those blockages are removed you’ll be amazed at the good things that will fill the gaps left behind.
Name [B] Age  Gender [F]
Just wondered if you could give some advice in regards to coming out to parents etc. I've recently just finished my first year at university (which is amazing) and I'm out and have really enjoyed not having to worry about my family finding out. I told my parents when I was 18, about a year and a half ago, my Dad didn't care but my Mum totally freaked out. I love my family and we're really close so seeing her in pain which I caused was really hard. She didn't talk to me properly for about 2 weeks, didn't let me hug her and banned me from telling my sister. Since then, no one has spoke of it and its like it never happened. I thought, that with time, she'd come round and talk to me about it but she hasn't. I'm a at complete loss to what to do, I've hated having to come home and lie to my family but I don't want to cause anymore pain to my mum. Thanks for the advice in advance :)
Congratulations on finishing your first year at university.
Now, you didn’t cause your Mum pain. Being gay was not a choice of yours and it isn’t something bad that you choose to inflict on others - it’s just who you are. Your Mum has taken the information you gave her - which took a lot of courage to divulge - and chosen to behave a certain way. This is outside of your control. Take blame away from yourself because you don’t deserve it.
The news of your sexuality has been swept under the rug. Perhaps your Mum hopes you’ll become straight if she ignores what you told her for long enough. This is classic behaviour that many bgiok visitors have told me about over the years. Bringing up the subject again this soon will likely not bring about the positive changes you’d like. You’d likely only make your Mum angry for a short burst before it’s back to the denial again. I would not push the issue at the moment. This doesn’t mean lying or sneaking around, though. Be honest about your life when asked about it, but don’t otherwise bother attempting to bring up the subject with your Mum for a while. For example, there’s no point trying to talk about a girl you fancy over family breakfast, but that doesn’t mean lying about a date you’re going on. And certainly, if you find yourself in a relationship with someone you care deeply for, then you have every right to have that relationship acknowledged and respected by your family. I’d say that when a gay person gets into a serious relationship for the first time is when tensions at home have to be resolved one way or the other, because the alternative is to lie and hide the partner away, which isn’t fair on anyone.
As for telling your sister: that’s your decision, not your Mum’s. She cannot ban you from saying things you'd like to say.
Unless you have a reason to believe that pushing the issue now would be beneficial, I’d let the dust settle for a while. Your Mum hasn’t forgotten, and there may even be a small part of her conscious mind that’s trying to process it. Remember that you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong in simply wanting to be honest with your family and be accepted as you are; that’s all any of us want. A time will come when it’s appropriate to broach the topic of your sexuality again.
Name [Aron] Age  Gender [M]
I recently discovered that I was Bi and I had feelings for a guy who I assumed was gay. I told my close friend about it and after about 2 months since I had told him, it spread throughout my whole year at school. I felt humiliated and I couldn't handle it. The guy who I liked just gives me dirty looks and hasn't spoken to me since it all came out (March this year). I've left school now but this guy is going to my college and I really want to work things out with him, because even before I liked him in a sexual way, I respected him for being quite a nice person who was friendly. I don't feel angry about anything but he is considered to be a "cool kid" and his friends just look at me like i'm trash and now everyone assumes i'm gay when i'm not. I just so want to sort things out with this guy and be friends with him again. How do I explain myself to him and sort things out. I just want to be happy and be who I really am and all of this is stopping that. How do I make peace with this boy?
You’ve done nothing wrong here, apart from mistaking someone as trustworthy who clearly wasn’t. Rumours can spread quickly and it’s at that point that we lose all control over the original facts and intentions. You need to communicate with your once-friend and set things straight. News like this can feel very different if delivered carefully, rather than from an excited gossip. If approaching him directly is too difficult for you, then send him an email. Say that you miss his friendship and that it’s fine with you if nothing romantic happens between you.
You may have to deal with the fact that this once-friend isn’t very understanding when it comes to same-sex attraction and that his feelings about guys liking guys may make it impossible for your friendship to resume. Do you think he'd be treating you badly like this if you were female? Having said that, his behaviour toward you may just be his annoyance that you didn’t confide in him about your feelings, and allowed a rumour to generate that has caused him embarrassment. It’s not your fault that the person you discussed your romantic feelings with didn’t turn out to be trustworthy, but your once-friend may not see it that way. He’ll may also be worried that, by association with you, people will question his sexuality too. Perhaps that’s why he’s been keeping away.
I could speculate for much longer but it won’t help you much. The best way to get the real picture is to reach out to him. If he doesn‘t respond or is hostile, then that tells you something about his attitude toward gay and bi people and how he treats friends when he finds out that they are different.
Name [Steven] Age  Gender [M]
I have a question to ask you but its very long. Sorry about that.
I am a 26 year old male studying my degree currently and a closeted gay. There is a reason why I'm closeted. I am born and living in a country whereby homosexuality is criminalized and the LGBT community are not accepted or respected by others. So, its not really possible for me to come out in this country.
Also, my family is very conservative and homophobic and I'm sure they will consider having a gay son is an embarrassment and will throw me out of my home.
I'm considering to migrate to another country (USA, Canada or Europe) whereby the LGBT community are respected and allowed to be seen in public as a couple. As least I can come out (to nobody but myself) in that country and find a lifelong partner. I am so determined to the extent that I am willing to learn foreign languages so that I have more choice of countries to migrate to.
I have only 2 friends. (I'm not that sociable. Thats why I have so few friends.) But here is the problem. They are friendly and nice but they are homophobic. They will tell me about celebrities who came out and speak ill of them. They will tell that "being gay is unnatural", "how can a person be gay? " etc. Its very hurting to hear all these but I just remain silent. I'm sure they will end their friendship with me if I came out to them. But, I do feel guilty if I left them and migrate to another country as we have made plans to work in the same company in the future and meet up during weekends.
I seriously desire to be in a lifelong relationship and have a boyfriend whom I can cuddle with, take care of him and enjoy life with him.
As for now, I'm suffering from social anxiety and undergoing therapy to overcome it. I will finish my degree in 2 years and I'm planning to find a job overseas after that and migrate there. Then, I'm planning to join dating websites and meet up guys for dates to find my soulmate. :)
Here are my questions:
- Is it an acceptable reason that I'm planning to migrate to another (LGBT-friendly) country just to find a boyfriend and be in a relationship?
- Is it wrong that I'm moving away from my family because they might not accept my sexuality? I do intend to come out to them after I have found my boyfriend, hoping that they will accept me for who I am.
- Am I being a bad guy to end my friendship with my 2 friends because they will not accept my sexuality? Other than being homophobic, they are really nice guys who will always be my side.
- I intend to start a brand new life once I'm overseas. To the extent of deleting my current facebook profile (most are "friends" whom I don’t meet in real life anyway) and creating a new one with the new circle of friends that I made when in overseas. Am I a coward to not let others know about my new (but true) life and just remove them away from my life?
Sorry for asking so many questions. I really look forward to your advice as I’m feeling very bothered and depressed about this lately.
I appreciate for taking your time to read this query.
Your environment - the country you live in and the people around you - give you no choice but to consider moving overseas. You are not moving to another country simply to find a boyfriend: you are moving to live your life fully, free from fear of rejection and penalty. You are planning a better life where you do not need to lie in order to maintain friendships or family stability. You want to be able to express yourself, just as heterosexual people are free to express themselves. You want to celebrate your love for someone and allow that love to flourish. There is nothing frivolous about your planned move overseas.
Let’s also remember that many people move overseas for their career or simply to see more of the world and experience other cultures; you will not have to try hard to come up with a convincing reason to explain your decision.
You do not need to end friendships or break contact with anyone when you leave because you can choose what information you share with the people back home. It is for you to decide whether the cost of having certain people in your life is worth it ie. is a friendship you value worth lying about your romantic life to maintain? It’s easier to filter the truth when keeping in touch with people far away. If you wrote to your family, you might tell them about your job or new friends, while avoiding the topic of your romantic life. Think carefully about coming out if you intend to move back home one day, or if the terms of your move overseas are temporary. If you are certain you will never return as a resident, then coming out is the way to remove any deception or ambiguity around your life and your decision to relocate. It’s clearly important to you to be honest with family and friends but you simply can’t in your home country without being in danger.
You are not a coward. You are a brave, intelligent and proactive man who has assessed his situation and is taking positive steps to create a better life. You care for those around you, even though their friendship and love are conditional. You are making the best of your current situation and looking to the future. That’s all anyone can do. You are not a bad person and you shouldn’t feel guilty about anything you’ve said here. You are simply responding to your environment, one that should nurture and nourish all its people.
Focus on your anxiety issues and feeling better. Work hard at university. Enjoy your friends and family because they do love you. Make plans and remind yourself of them when you’re feeling lonely or unhappy. Research your overseas move. Two years will pass quickly and you have a lot to look forward to.
Name [Cat] Age  Gender [F]
my name is Caitlyn and I am a sixteen year old girl living in the US. I just recently began dating a guy that I've been best friends with for almost 3 years . Things are actually going great, however being with him has confirmed one thing for me... I'm gay. I've always just assumed that I was bisexual because I've always been attracted to both men and women but when my boyfriend came over today and things got a little physical, I knew that I was not bisexual. Being with a guy just makes me uncomfortable and I don't like it. Now I'm not sure what to do. I wanna come out so that I can have someone special in my life but at the same time I do love my boyfriend, just not in a physical way. And if I do come out to him I don't think he'd want to continue even being friends because he's a pretty big homophobe. So don't really know how to go about this situation... Please help. Lol
It’s obvious that you cannot continue with your current relationship. I think you knew that I wasn’t going to give you tips on how to hang on in there with your boyfriend! A much as some people don’t like to admit it, physical attraction and sex are important in a relationship. Sure, as people get older their romantic relationships can become less physical and take on other aspects, but you’re not 65 yet and I suspect your similarly aged young man would rather not settle for a kiss on the cheek and a rom-com DVD! You both deserve to be with someone who desires you, in all the ways.
So you need to break up. Truth is best, and the truth is that you’re a young person who’s still getting to know herself. When you got involved with this guy you thought you were bisexual, and you do have a strong emotional link with him. But as time has gone by you have realised that you are not physically into men, which makes your relationship unsustainable. If you choose to tell him something else, out of fear of his homophobia, you’d likely only be delaying the inevitable: that one day he will find out that you prefer women. He’ll hear it from someone else or see you with your girlfriend. I imagine he’d be hurt that his friend and ex kept such a massive secret.
You haven’t done anything wrong here and you both deserve to be happy. The only way that can happen is if you are no longer a couple. How he chooses to respond is outside your control, but at least you’ll know that you were honest and did the right thing for both of you, even if it takes him a while to see it.
Name [Rob] Age  Gender [M]
Well umm I don't know how to put it I'm 19 years old and I've meet a gay lad who's only 16 (his name is Alex ). I'm out to my parents and they’re completely fine with me being gay, and well I meet up with Alex couple of times and we have just clicked, in the way of us being really good friends see a good future together.
But when I told my mum about Alex and his age she wasn't too sure and she flipped out a little, and said he's too young to go out with him because I'm 19 and he 16. She also believes that I can go to prison for this because of our age difference. Is this true and why? Why she said this is because Alex isn't out to his mum, and my mum is worried she would blame me for alex being gay and try and get me in trouble with the police. She also believes that he is too young to make the decision of being gay. Because at that age I was not sure myself so I guess my mum is using me as an example.
My mum has forced me to tell Alex today that we cannot be together because of our age and that I can't even go and see him as a friend, because as I'm the adult and she says that he's minor. And now Alex is angry with me because he want us to be together. What I would like to know please can I get into any trouble with police or the law if me and Alex go out with each other because as I'm 19 I'm being the adult and Alex is again only 16. And if it is ok for me and Alex to go out how could I convince my mum to come around. And if you don't agree could you let me know please and why:)
Your Mum has scared you, but nothing you were doing was illegal or could get you into trouble with the law. The law is concerned with protecting young people from being sexually exploited by older people, and from having sex before they are mature enough to understand it and make decisions about it. The age of consent in the UK is 16, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, which means that if your relationship with Alex became physical you would not be breaking the law. Obviously that means that dating the guy and having a romantic relationship is perfectly legal and the police would not intervene. The speed at which the relationship progresses is up to you as a couple eg. you might decide to wait a few years before sex, but there is nothing illegal about being together. See the BBC’s page about the age of consent for more info.
At what age did your Mum feel confident that she was straight and that it was okay to date a man? I get emails from 11 year olds who confidently state that they are gay, but I also hear from confused readers in their 20s. Too much baggage and clutter comes between a person and their true selves; too much guilt and negativity, not to mention the hang-ups of others that they’re all too happy to press on us. If you like girls at 16 you get a pass to the world, but if you like guys you’re told to sit tight until the spell wears off. Being gay isn’t some weird extra element that creeps in to some people’s sexual awakenings - a thing that might just vanish again if left unprovoked. Hitting puberty and realising who we fancy is a journey that happens to all of us, in much the same way, though sexuality can take varying amounts of time to fully form and make sense. It only becomes a complex matter when we decide that we aren’t happy with what our bodies and emotions are plainly telling us about what we like. I remember proud grandparent’s encouraging smiles and playful teasing when I had a ‘girlfriend’ at 8. Had I held hands with a male friend in the playground instead, I’d have been told I was confused. But really, I had no clue either way about romance at 8!
You like guys. Alex likes guys. You like each other and want to give it a go. No laws broken here, just two people who know what they want and would like the chance to see where a relationship might lead. If you were a straight man dating a straight young lady I’m sure your folks would be throwing a party instead of worrying about whether your girlfriend was sure she was straight. You are both young people, both teenagers, and a three-year age gap is not unusual.
I can only speculate about how Alex’s Mum might feel about your relationship, but it seems daft to cut ties with him because she might have issues. You didn’t - and couldn’t - turn Alex gay. If he is unsure about his sexuality then I assume he would have told you. His youth shouldn’t mean automatic dismissal of any statements he makes about his feelings.
As time goes by you may decide that he’s not mature enough for you, but people in their thirties do that with each other! As long as you both know what you want and feel happy and safe, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be together. Make your own decisions about who to date.