Teenage Problems/Homophobic parents
I'm 15 and homosexual but my parents are Mormons and homophobic. I told my sister a couple months ago but we never really talked about it again. I really want to tell my parents but I know I cant trust them to keep it secret from our neighborhood and they might kick me out or send me to some place to "cure" me. I'm really stressed out about it and think I'm starting to get depressed. I've wanted to see a psychiatrist but I cant work up the nerve to ask my parents.
I don't know what to do anymore. I just want to be happy and be able to hang out with the people I want to and date the people I want to and not worry about other people and what they think and what they might do.
I don't have any close friends and everyone in my neighborhood are Mormons and just wouldn't understand. I don't have anyone to help me with this. Also I can't stand this stupid church but my parents make me go and everyone there is supper anti-gay.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I hope that I can help.
Being gay is not a choice that you make, it is something that you just happen to be. Your sexuality is only part of you and should not define and nor should others allow it. Regardless of whether or not people understand about your sexuality, either through bigotry or ignorance, they should accept it because they should accept you. I know this is not always the case and religion is one of the biggest reasons that people, such as yourself, struggle to come to terms with who they are because of the implications of other people finding out. This is not fair on you and nor is it right that you feel that you cannot lead the life you have a right to because of other people's opinions.
In my day to day job, I work for a charity that works with young people aged 16-25 in the UK that identify as being LGB or T (lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans) and we house them to prevent them from becoming homeless as a result of them not being able to remain at home. Sometimes, the reason that young people cannot stay at home is because they do not feel comfortable; other times, it is because their parents cannot come to terms with the person's sexuality or gender identity. Either way, young people are being pushed out of the family home and left to deal with not only the normal day to day issues of being a teenager but also, the issue of being abandoned by a family who is supposed to love them. I have seen first hand the impact that this can have on young people, affecting their confidence, self-esteem and mental health. In my experience, it has also lead to young people struggling to cope with everyday life to the point where they become suicidal or self harm. This is not right and not fair. You as a person should be accepted for who you are, not who you choose to sleep with.
There is a lot of ignorance around being gay and people are quite vocal about their opinions about the matter; more so than they would be about anything else. What this means is that you are continually exposed to negative influences that will slowly chip away at you that will result in one of two things; either you succumb to the pressure and conform to the life that is expected of you (and lead a life of unhappiness) or you break and effectively disown your friends and family. Neither option is a positive one but it will happen if things do not change.
For the record, people quote the Bible as being against homosexuality and it being a sin. What people leave out is the fact that the Bible also says that naughty children should be stoned to death, people should not eat shellfish and a man who sleeps with a woman on her period should repent for a period of time. Do people do this? The answer is 'no'. Ill educated people tend to quote Bible versus that they have heard against something they do not like whilst at the same time being hypocritical because they are not leading a wholly Christian life because they do not follow the Bible in its entirity. If someone is going to use religion to demonise someone, they need to ensure that they are living their life according to the Bible wholly, not in part. How can someone tell you that being homosexual is wrong when they themselves are sinning according to the same book? It does not make sense.
God talks about love, forgiveness and understanding...none of these are the traits of a person who judges you on the basis of your sexuality.
Reinhold Niebur, who was a theologian (someone who studies religion) said:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
This is a similar approach to how people should deal with other people, even if they do not understand or accept that person's behaviour.
But back to you, in your situation, what do you do?
The answer is: whatever is going to be easiest for you in the longer term.
At the moment you are young and reliant on your friends, family and community for support (even if they do not give if it to you as you need it). Coming out publicly may alienate you and force you to become isolated, as well as risking the relationship that you have with your family. You also risk expulsion from your community which could potentially mean that you become homeless if everyone pushes you away; which is not what you want.
So you are faced with a dilemma: Do you keep quiet about your sexuality until you are old enough to leave home and live the life you want? Or, do you come out and make a stand against everyone's ignorance? This is the ultimate question and one only you can answer but whatever you decide, you need to do so with the bigger picture in mind, knowing that no matter how bad you feel at the moment, things will ultimately get better.
You are not in an easy situation and you need to do whatever is going to be best for you for an easy life. I am not advising you to live a lie but what I am advising is that you think about the possible consequences of either coming out or not coming out and make a decision. You might also want to consider contacting organizations or other young people online who share your experiences (just do so with caution and do not meet people offline) as this will offer you support that you may not be getting from your own family or community.
Whatever you decide to do, do so with pride and acceptance that you are who you are; that wonderful person. No-one has a right to make you feel bad or less than them and if you can come through this and lead a happy life against all of this, the future can only get easier for you.
I hope that helps.