Gay/Lesbian/Bi Teens/I just don't know...
QUESTION: Thank you so much for takeing the time to read this.okay, so I am currently in an intamite relationship with a guy. We really care for eachother. I do have physical and emotional attraction to him, but in the past I've gotten many crushes on close girl friends. I would sometimes have visions of me being physical with them (not sex, but kissing and stuff) . I think that I'm attracted to girls on an emotional level, but only sertain girls. I haven't recently been turned on by any girls or any other guys, but I still sometimes feel that attraction girls. I have pushed my suspisions down, but the feeling still stays and I'm wondering if I am bisexual. How do I know? I've only have met people who are gay, but I have no idea how they came to discover this or how they came out to others. I would love it if you could hrlp me.
ANSWER: Hi Nikki, it's nice to hear from you.
I would like to begin by commenting on something that you mentioned in your question to me. In your question, you mentioned that you have pushed your suspicions down but the feelings you have are still there, I'd like to explain why this is. All feelings that we experience need to come to the surface eventually. You can try to push them as far down as you can; but feelings are never buried dead they are buried alive, and it is only a matter of time until you have to face them once again. For example, if you were to work with a co-worker and they upset you but you never confront them about it or try to work it out, and instead just live with it; eventually your feelings will surface and you will be dealing with them. It may be to your friends or family on the side, it may be to your boss or co-worker themselves, but rest assured your angry feelings will surface eventually. It's not unusual for most LGBT young adults who I chat with to ignore their feelings at the beginning. However, that does not mean that they magically disappear. The best advice I can give you on this topic is to confront your feelings and let them surface on your own terms. Sometimes the feeling can overtake us and we may regret what/how we acted on them. Doing it on your own terms lets you think clearly about what you are doing and although you may make mistakes, they would be much less then if youíre not thinking clearly and your buried feelings take control of you in the moment.
Next, as a personal rule; I never encourage anyone to enter into a relationship with a partner unless the person knows what it is they want. This applies to you, because if youíre unsure about your sexuality and still exploring it, you can't know what you want right now because youíre unsure where your sexuality lies. You may find out that you want to see girls on the side occasionally, or come to any number of conclusions. The partner youíre with needs to know what you want so they know what they're signing up for by being with you. If you feel that you are bi and in a relationship, it would be a good idea to let your feelings for the other gender surface from time to time. Iím not saying that I want you to be dishonest with them, but negotiate something out with your partner so you can let that part of you surface when youíre feeling it.
Generally speaking, people who are Bi are aroused by both men and women. Straight would be just the opposite gender and Gay/Lesbian would be just the same gender. I encourage you to look inside yourself and listen to what your body is telling you. Be sure to give yourself lots of time. It's not unusual for this to take weeks or even months. If you feel that Bi best defines your sexual orientation, I would like you to know a few things that you may or may not know about it. First, Bi people are not attracted to every one of both genders. Second, they may go back and forth with what gender they would like to be with at the time. A Bi individual may date a man first, and if it doesn't work out, could decide to be in a relationship with a woman next instead. There's no "right" way to be Bi, just like there's no "right" way to be Straight or Gay/Lesbian. There is however, an honest and dishonest way to be in a relationship and I encourage you to be honest with everyone who youíre in a relationship with, about how youíre feeling because they have a right to know.
It sounds like you have questions about being Gay/Lesbian and know people who are. If you like, feel free to ask your friends the questions you have about them (such as how do they know). The best way to know though is to listen to your body with an open mind and go in that direction.
As for coming out to others, I suggest beginning with people who would be the most easiest to tell and gradually go to the hardest people to tell. You may learn what works for you and what doesn't along the way, and that knowledge would be valuable if you were to come out to the more challenging individuals in your life. If you like, think of it as a video game. At the beginning, it's pretty easy and straight forward and isn't that challenging. Along the way, it gets slightly harder and more difficult until you beat the game at the end. I like this analogy because I don't want you to have any surprises thrown your way the first couple of times you would come out. Ideally, it should be as predictable as possible. This is also a good idea for another reason. When you tell people at the beginning (who you expect to be supportive) they will likely be in your corner cheering you on as you get to the harder individuals. You may think a support group is unnecessary, however most people go on an emotional roller coaster while coming out to others. It would be a good idea to have someone (or some people) who can keep you grounded and gives you support/encouragement when you need it. Also, the people who you would already of come out to, may be able to give you some suggestions how to tell other mutual friends or family members that you both know.
I'd wish you luck, but I know you won't need it. I'm sure you'll figure out your sexuality eventually, your practically there already.
If you would like any more suggestions or advice on something I may not have covered (or for clarification) please feel free to send me a follow-up. I'm here for you all the way!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Okay, thank you soooo much! I like the analogie you used. I'm not quite sure about going about comming out. I know some really judgemental people who didn't seem judgemental for years, but have been really close friends with me. I know my boyfriend probably would be shocked but supportive. But only today did I get an emotional shock from a friend. At lunch, I was listening to this convrrsation about how gays/ lesbians didn't beleive in God, and that they'd all die and burn in hell and all this other bullshit about sexuality and the bible and such. my boyfreind butted in and pointed out that "being gay is a sin" is not actually written in the bible, only that gay sex is. I myself wouldn't know. I'm not Christian, nor am I deeply religious, but I do beleive in God. I don't beleive that having different sexuallity is wrong. I think that as long as it makes you happy, then go for it. He asked one of her friends about her veiws on it and she told us we wouldn't agree with her, but she actually felt sorry for them because they didn't beleive in God. Acording to her, they had control over their sexuality and chose to be like that. How did she decide that she was strait?! Did she just wake up one morning and decide "I'm going to be strait today." ?! Of course not! She has always had those fellings for guys only, not by choice. And then she told us that we didn't truley beleive in God, or else we wouldn't think that there it's wrong to be gay. She started sobbing because she wanted all her friends "to go with her". Because my boyfriend is Christian, this hurt him deeply and it also scared me. Not because I think that I'm going to Hell or something, but because someone like her would say something like that. And it upset me. That's what I hate about religion, that it makes people judgemental over things this...
I wonder how to come out. Will the people I truely care about accept this, or do the same thing she did? How am I supposed to tell my parents that their teenage girl is bisexual and not strait as they had thought? How? I don't know...I am frightened to come out. People can be so judgemental and the ones you thought you knew get up and ditch you just like that. I know because of my gay friends. It can be really hard. I know I must stay true to myself, I will not faulter, but I want things to be as okay as you're making it sound. I want it to all be alright, and for everything to be as usual. I've had a lot to deal with lately, and I don't think I could stand it if much more occured. I'm sorry this was so long, but...it's a lot easier telling someone you don't know that can't judge you personally. Thank you so much for listening and answering. You' re really helping me out a lot here...
Hey Nikki, it's nice to hear from you again.
I was about halfway through my response and my cat walked across the keyboard and deleted everything. When you do assignments in school, remember to save your work, especially if you have a cat! :P
No problem at all, I'm glad I was able to help. I hope the response here would be just as helpful to you.
It's very unfortunate to hear about how the people at school are talking about LGBT individuals. It's good that you don't seem to upset about it, although it can't feel good hearing your boyfriend talk like that. Some (if not most) of your friends will probably change once they are out of the bubble of middle school and gain some real world experience. Sometimes, the person just needs some time to adjust to the news before they would be a supporter of you.
In Psychology, you learn that people in a way are similar to food. They can either affect us overall positively, or they can affect us overall negatively. If we use food as an example of this, then a salad that may be high in calories would still be overall positive for your body. On the other side, if you were to get a burger at a fast food restaurant, it would affect you overall negatively even though they may be a tomato or a piece of lettuce on there. I suggest you ask yourself "does this person affect me either overall positively or overall negatively?" for each person in your life. If the answer is that they affect you overall negatively, I suggest that you cut them out of your life or at the very least limit the time you spend with them. That way, you will be able to spend more time with the people who affect you overall positively so that they can help you grow as an individual and to be the best person you can.
As another rule of mine, I don't give out any spiritual guidance. Instead, I give you the resources for you to seek out LGBT friendly religious leaders in your area so you may talk to them in your free time. I'm happy to know that you know that just because youíre anything but Straight does not mean that you can't be religious or spiritual.
There is a website you can go to at www.gaychurch.org where there is a database of LGBT friendly religious institutions around the world. After you get to the website you would click on "Church Directory", then your country and after your state. There would be a list of LGBT friendly religious institutions in your area that you may want to consider having a chat with. I should also tell you, that I have not verified any of these places, so I can't recommend one over the other. If you feel like it might be for you, it might be a good idea if you contacted one and spoke to someone there who could give you some spiritual guidance. They might be able to help clear up misconceptions that your friends believe, such as when you mentioned that your friends think that LGBT people can't believe in God, when they can if they want to.
Now about your conversation you had at lunch, a few things stand out to me about it...
1. If we take you out of the conversation, and take your Boyfriend out of the conversation (who I'll get to in a second), who's left? The answer is obvious, it's everybody else. In that group of people there could of been/is very likely someone else who may be LGBT. They may not have been at your table, but could have just walked by and overheard your conversation, or sat close to you and pretended that they weren't listening. I want you to remember that LGBT people are everywhere, even if they aren't out (such as someone similar to yourself). The fact is, some very negative things were said and (even though I understand you may have been shocked or upset and that you have some Gay friends) you dropped the ball and missed an opportunity to stand up for LGBT people and correct this person. It's fine if you don't want others to know about yourself, but if someone else is listening to this crap who may be questioning their sexuality, they're going to likely feel bad about themselves...AND FEEL EVEN WORSE IF NOBODY SPEAKS UP!!! You don't have to be confrontational or in your face about it, you could agree to disagree; but make sure that people around you know that you are at least supportive of it and don't agree with what's being said. This ties in with the next point about your Boyfriend...
2. You need to develop some standards and principals about what you will and will not accept and stick to them no matter what. This affects your Boyfriend because I don't believe you made those standards yet, and if you did you haven't been keeping to them. Talk with your Boyfriend more about Gay people and tell him you don't agree. See if you can work something out with him. Youíre going to need someone with a bit of an open mind to date someone who is Bisexual (assuming that's the orientation you feel best describes yourself). If you can't work something out and assuming you feel he affects you overall positively, then you may be better off as just friends. Going back to the last point, your standards/principals should guide you on how to react in the future, this goes for everyone including friends, peers, coworkers and strangers. Ask yourself if it's important or not important to clarify some misinformation going on. If so do it and if not then don't, whatever you do though be sure to stick to your principals!
If youíre coming out, you may want to anticipate a bit of a negative response especially at the beginning... Sometimes people just need some time to adjust, but you should be prepared none the less. A good indicator of how others would react is to listen to them talk about the LGBT community as a whole. The friend from lunchtime who said those negative comments shouldn't be the type of person you come out to at the beginning.
If you choose, you always have the option of not telling your parents. I came from a Christian family where past generations were Priests, Deacons & Nuns. I didn't feel that coming out at 15 was such a good idea, so I waited until after I graduated from Post-Secondary education and got older. I recommend that if youíre expecting a negative response from your family, be sure to wait until after you are financially independent of them. They don't need to know right away unless you really want them to.
If you come out, I recommend you start with your gay friends. They would be a good start to that support group in your corner that I mentioned in my 1st response. It also might help if you got some more friends who you know are LGBT friendly in your group so you can be friends with them during this as well. You can ask your Gay friends to introduce you to some if you donít know any. If any of your friends do leave because youíre not Straight, try not to be too sad about it. Those types of people would be the ones that would have influenced you overall negative if they were to stay. If anything, they're just doing you a favor. Use the energy you would have spent on them in a more positive way and with more positive people and you'll be just fine.
Let me know if there's anything else I can do for you with a follow-up, and remember to take 1 step at a time.