Problem page archive entries:
August 2013

Name [Alison] Age [?] Gender [F]

Hi,

I have been wanting to talk about this for a long time and feel I would be happier with some advice. I am still quite young and hope things might work out over time but it worries me everyday, it's the first thing I think about when I wake and the last thing I think about at night. I have been brought up in a fairly middle class and probably homophobic family. I was taught that a relationship is between a man+woman, they then marry, and have their own lives. I therefore didn't think anymore about it. I remember when I was about 10 and everyone at school was getting their first boyfriend or girlfriend, everything seemed normal, I then got my first boyfriend.

Later on that year my mother moved me to a mixed private school where relationships weren't even thought about, I felt happy here that no one cared about relationships, its too young! When I finished that school at the age of 13, I then moved to an all girls private school.

For the first year or so, I lost contact from all boys in the outside world and focused on exam grades, I didn't care that a few were happily going to town to meet their boyfriends. I feel this wasn't the best move, being starved of male company for years, women started to appeal to me more and more. I then started to realise I was a bit different from all my other friends, I felt awkward and left out of conversations like "oh wow, look at the dude over there he's hot" and think "no, I much prefer the girl on the other side of the road". But having to keep my feelings inside. I could imagine myself with a girl, it just felt natural and right for me.

I chose to have a female role-model, 'idol'. All of my other friends, chose males (either Justin Bieber or One Direction). As I then created fan accounts and obsessed around twitter, people would approach me at school and say "would you turn lesbian for her, would you go into bed with her?" And think 'leave me alone' but just say "yes" and walk away. I didn't know who I was at the time, bi, straight, lesbian, or just going through a phase?

I became great friends with someone on twitter and spent most of my time (still do) talking to her. She was also unsure what label she fit into, coming to the conclusion that she was 99% lesbian but just not ready to tell anyone yet. As time went on, I felt quite attached to her (sharing same thoughts, liking the same people etc) and felt a wonderful, stomach-turning feeling talking to her that I had never had before. We live far apart and I realised that me and her would never work out, so we still just remain great friends. We never talk about sexuality any more and feel I need someone else I can talk to about it (hense this email).

I know I'm lesbian. I've told a few people, not sure if they believe me because I don't typically look like a lesbian. I don't have piercings in every bit of skin, don't wear male or dark clothes. I am very much a girly girl. Which makes me wonder am I ACTUALLY gay or just going through a very, very long phase? Would I fit in with other lesbians?

I want to come out to people because I feel I need a label to be happier and more open with who I am. I am an only child and telling my mother that I'm gay and therefore never giving her grandparents would mean the end of the world for her. My parents are quite homophobic, they don't think its 'right' for equal marriage. Telling my family would be so hard. So I therefore like to think I'm straight to impress my mother, be normal. But I just can't ever think I'll marry a man, have a family and never reveal my true identity. I worry so much that I can't be who I am because I fear my future.

I feel I'm missing out on being happy. I get jealous when I see my friends holding hands with their boyfriends. I want to have someone who I can cuddle, spend days with, talk about things only gay people will understand but I don't think this will happen unless I come out. Coming out, saying I'm 100% lesbian, and my parents reaction worry me greatly. I just want to know who I am.
Sorry it's so long.

Please help,

Alison.

Reply

Hi Alison,

You do know who you are. You told me in your email that you know you are a lesbian. Where you’re stuck isn’t in figuring out who you are, but in moving forward in terms of coming out and meeting potential partners.

Not all lesbians have piercings and wear hiking clothes to the supermarket. Liking girls doesn’t come with a uniform, so don’t worry if you don’t want to wear one. I live in Brighton, known for it’s large LGBT population, and I’m reminded of this all the time. Sure, some gay women don’t half like their sports gear and boyish haircuts, but you’ll meet a wide range of tastes, attitudes and styles within any group of people. Not all straight people look the same, after all. You may notice that some gay people use their sexuality to define themselves beyond simply being attracted to members of the same sex. I think this can be restrictive and diminishes all a person is or can be, and it certainly does little to dispel stereotypes. But that’s a topic for another time. What makes you gay is liking girls. Everything else is up to you.

You begin by saying your family is probably homophobic, but later say your folks are quite homophobic. Could it be that you’re simply not sure how they feel on this topic and you’re letting your fear take over? I’m encouraged that you realise that it’s no life to fake being straight and to get married in order to keep your family happy. We only get one shot at life and I think it’s tragic to spend that time pretending to be someone else, and to steal a straight partner’s chance at true romantic love. I get emails from people who consider doing this, such is their fear of coming out that they’d write their lives off. Although your email swings a little from definite to uncertain statements, I think that you have realised that you can’t change who you are (and being in an all-girls school doesn’t affect sexuality) and you don’t sound down on yourself about it. This is positive stuff. You don’t dislike yourself for being gay, but you’re worried other people might.

I can’t offer much more without repeating what I’ve written about coming out in the dedicated section. I urge you to take a look at that. I’m not sure of your present age because you don’t say, but I’m guessing 15, since you were 13 when you finished school, and you go on to describe your life since. I doubt your sexuality will radically change at this stage and it’s not nearly as flakey or shakeable as parents like to think. These mythical phases are comforting to some adults, and it’s true that young people do experiment sexually. But people like what they like and these urges don’t come on and blink off like a light or bend to will. It’s healthy to leave doors open; don’t write anything off. But people simply don’t wake up straight when they hit 16.

It’s all down to timing now and weighing up the potential outcomes of coming out while living at home versus waiting. To meet a potential girlfriend, you could see if there are any gay youth groupslocally. Do a bit of research and see what's out there. Your options will expand once you’re 18, with social groups and gay venues to investigate. You might also try online dating at that stage. It’s much easier to meet someone once you’re more open about your sexuality. It’s hard to be romantically available and send out positive vibes to a potential girlfriend if you haven’t told a soul that you like girls.

Name [Cole] Age [18] Gender [M]

Dear Jason,

I have this problem where I don't want to come out of the closet but I don't want people thinking I am straight either. I read online that the first step to coming out is coming out to yourself. I've fully admitted to myself years ago I was gay. I never went through self denial over it. So now that I've done that I feel stuck here in a limbo type place where I completed step one but not ready for step two which involves actually coming out to people other than myself. There something in me that is holding me back. I get very uncomfortable when people ask about what girls I think are "hot" or when I get asked by my parents (usually my mom) about having a girlfriend. I never pretended to date a girl to hide myself. I always told myself this is my issue and it's not fair and would be mean to play around with another girls feelings and to trick her into thinking we had mutual feelings for each other because I am too much of a coward to come out. But the only thing that makes me feel even more uncomfortable then being asked about girls is when I get asked about being gay. My mom has had her suspicions for a while now because I never had a girlfriend or showed interest in having one. When I am with my fiends I use gender neutral pronouns when talking about what or who I like. My birthday wish every year since I was eleven was to find the strength to come out and I never can. I was bullied as a kid and I think it traumatized me a bit to where I can't come out. I read online the average coming out age for countries like America is 16 and I am 18 and feel no more ready to come out then when I was 11. I am incapable of saying the words "I'm gay." I feel insecure and scared to even tell my gay friends I am gay even though I know they already think it. I just need help or tips on how to get the conversation going. I read your coming out section and it helped its just I don't know why I feel like I can't tell people if I accepted the fact I am gay and I know my family won't have a "problem" with it. Some will need to take an extra minute to digest it but no one thinks its a choice or a disease in my family. Same with my friends. I feel like I am in a glass closet where people see that I am gay but I haven't confirmed it. Thank you for reading this I hope you can respond.

Reply

Hi Cole,

I think being in the closet has become a habit. There’s a block there, despite the fact that you think your folks won’t have a problem with it. It sounds as though those around you already have an inkling, so I think you’d put more than one mind at rest by saying the words, and I doubt it’d be a huge shock to most.

Don’t stress over pointless statistics. To conduct a survey of coming out ages you’d logically only get predominantly confident, out participants who are happy to talk about being gay. Anyone else wouldn’t even come forward. Surveys about gay people are inherently unreliable because a lot of us are busy not admitting we’re gay or are in various stages of coming out and degrees of openness. Sad to say, we can’t even guess how many people never find the courage to come out.

It took me two hours to come out for the first time. Lots of half sentences and aborted attempts with a very patient friend. I had a block too. But she was cool about it, as I suspected. Then it snowballed, as it seems to for many gay people. You gain confidence and courage the more you do it, even if some instances don’t go so well. The world doesn’t end. And hell, if it did then at least you’d have been brave enough to admit to those you care about that you are gay first, and found the strength to give them the opportunity to be okay with it. You’re holding onto something that’s causing a wall to go up between you and other people; it means you’re holding back and picking your words more carefully than you should. That makes relationships with anyone hard work. You can change that.

Just open your mouth and begin the sentence.

Name [Sash] Age [24] Gender [F]

Hi Jason,

This is a really long and complicated one. I am a women, I would describe myself as straight although I suppose I could be bi-curious - either way my sexuality is not my problem - it is my "best mates".

We have known each other since we were 16 - all those years ago he "wanted me" and never felt the same. But last year I fell for him - however he has been questioning his sexuality. He lost his virginity to me, but it was a drunken mess.

Basically I fell for him - but I feel like he would play me saying 'I want to marry you', 'have kids with you', I 'could live a straight life for you - I'm bi'. Most recently he said we were in a relationship and I should move closer to him so we could start our lives together and now he is 'texting a guy' and we are not together but he 'loves me dearly'.

So naturally, I freaked. I told him to man up and come out, that he was a total player and the reason that gay men have a bad name and that I was only ever a skirt for him to use in case he decided to live a straight life.

Needless to say the atmosphere is not great. This happened two weeks ago. I've seen him once and he made me feel so sick I couldn't speak to him. I've tried texting him and I've had 'polite' responses. I just feel so angry that he could do this to me and my head is full of that fact he's probably off exploring his sexuality not giving a damn what he has done to me. I hate him.

I agree I haven't tried to hard to meet up with him - but he hasn't tried with me either. It was my birthday and he couldn't even be bothered to text even though I went to such an effort for him a few weeks early.

So can you tell me? Is it perfectly acceptable for gay men to do this? It is something that commonly happens cause I think its really unfair and now after what he has done to me I don't feel the same as I did about supporting gay pride etc (sorry to offend you) - how can he be proud of what he has done?

Who is wrong here? Should I support him? Will he actually ever bother with me again or now he is out will he just drop me? Am I actually that worthless - do all gay men think that of women?

And more to the point how do I now pick my life up now he has done this and feel like a human again cause he has done nothing but chew my heart up!?

I know this is self pity - but I am also trying to decide whether to try to be his friend again, and support him through the confusion he is going through - or if actually he just is a piece of work? Please help me!

Reply

Hi Sash,

I don’t think your friend is confused or needs support. He knows he likes guys and he’s happily getting on with it. Perhaps when he was less confident about stating and exploring his sexuality it was comforting to think of you in terms of a safety net, a refuge for someone who’s not brave enough to grab hold of a scary reality. But he’s found some courage since then and he’s off. I don’t doubt that he truly cares or cared for you, but it’s hard to dispute the fact that he’s used you. Regardless, his priorities and focus have changed and he’s rather callously cast you aside. No, this is not an acceptable way for someone to treat another, regardless of the sexuality of those involved. Please don’t pander to stereotypes about how gay men view or treat women. I’d be lost without my incredible friends - most of whom are female.

I think both women and men are often casualties of someone else’s journey to acceptance, and it’s not fair. You’ve got strong feelings for this guy that you can’t turn off because he’s now chasing guys and steering clear of you. It’s time to stop wondering about what he’s thinking and what motivates him, and focus on you. Take his actions at face value and then make logical decisions about how to proceed. He snubbed your birthday, doesn’t engage in a friendly manner when you get in touch and shows no interest in maintaining a friendship. So the logical thing to do is not to put any more energy into reaching out to him. I know you miss him and have been understandably hurt. But we can’t force people into feeling regret or guilt, and it wouldn’t be worth having his apology if you’d had to pursue it. You’re worth more. Don’t chase.

He’s not a confused victim of his sexuality that needs you obediently waiting around for when he feels like getting in touch. He’s a dick.

Name [Alex] Age [13] Gender [M]

Hi,

My name is Alex and I have been recently really worried about being gay. Not because i think its wrong, just because of reactions and abuse I might get. I started to get name calling of 'gay boy' as early as age nine, but I just shook it off because it seemed common. I did have a lot of friends in primary school, but as soon as I started secondary, I found new people. I was prepared for it, because we could put down suggestions for who we wanted to be in a form class with, so I put down two people who I got along with and who I wouldn't fall out with. However I did end up with one person in my form who always was quiet, but then started getting in to trouble and I am often labelled as gay by him. I have about a balance of friends of the sexes, but it just seems that girls have a much better tolerance of homosexuality, because guys, i fear, would think that me simply being there would make them believe I was making a sexual advance. All the taunts I have received so far have made me think am and I got curious. I am still attracted to girls, but I have looked on twitter for images of guys. I have looked for gay YouTube-ers and that has given me a sense of stability.i also remember looking for a while at the men on the front of the Calvin Klein underwear boxes, but I gave myself the idea that it was because I aspired to look like them. I was always told I was camp, but I feel as though I get along with boys just as well as I do with girls, because there is that thing about gay people only getting along with girls. I always get frustrated when people say that something is gay, and I get on the defensive about it. But the more people call me gay, the more I come to terms with the fact that I probably am. I have scoured the Internet for help and stories of others who have come out. I want to come out, and there is a boy in the year above who has, and he has been given a hard time, but I really admire him. There is also my mums friends son, who's mum told me that he was gay, but he is in uni, and what you might call a stereotype. He has no male friends and enjoys being on stage. I don't want to come out until i leave school into the bigger world and get rid of the risk of discrimination. I wouldn't say my parents are homophobic, they're not Christian, but I have heard them say words like 'fag' and 'poof'. I wouldn't want to tell them anytime soon. i might tell my 15 year old sister. It sounds weird but I have only told one person about my feelings, and that is my girlfriend. I told her I thought I might be bi, and she said that it was fine. I have a frustration that I can't tell anyone about my feelings and have anxiety and have started self harming. I have been really moody and I am starting to feel like I'm not nice to be around. I was wondering if you could put me in contact with someone of a similar age and situation as me.

Thanks, all the best.

Apologies for the long life story.

Alex.

Reply

Hi Alex,

bgiok does not keep a database of visitors, nor do I operate a system for putting people in touch with each other. Perhaps give a forum like www.queerattitude.com a try, or do a little research into whether there’s a nearby LGB youth group or similar. I have a selection listed here.

Self-harm is something you need professional help with, and I urge you to speak to a doctor and enquire about counselling (free on the NHS, but often there's a waiting list). However, at the risk of offending some readers, it’s sometimes the case that self harm isn’t necessarily something a person is compelled to do due to genuine emotional distress and the need for an outlet. Sometimes a young person may do it for a while as a way of expressing and exploring themselves and being noticed. I’ve written about self harm here.

Apart from self-harming, it doesn’t sound as though you have anything terrible going on in your life. You describe your situation in very clear, calm, and honest language. Though you have been teased and people sometimes use language you don’t like, it doesn’t sound as though you consider yourself an ongoing victim of targetted bullying. You are worried about coming out, and this is occupying your mind to the point you feel you’re not as fun to be around, but that’s your perception and not necessarily that of other people. You don’t indicate a reason to believe the reaction to your future coming out would be notably negative or force a change in your situation e.g. a need to leave home sooner that you’d otherwise planned. You also say that you are thinking of coming out to your sister, so you must have cause to think she’d be ok about it. Why not open up to her? Please read the dedicated coming out section for advice and ideas.

I’m concerned that you have a girlfriend. The only reason two people should ever be together is if they are attracted to each other and share romantic love or, at least, the mutual desire to develop it. If that describes what you have with her, then great. If not, you’re being unfair and need to break up.

You sound like a confident young man who has a strong sense of who he is. I think perhaps you just wanted to write your thoughts down in an email as a way of clarifying them to yourself and developing a way forward. Nothing wrong with that.

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