Alex Blaze

Friday question

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 03, 2007 8:52 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: coming out of the closet, open thread, Rosie O'Donnell, teens

From one of the mailbag posts on Rosie O'Donnell's blog:

emily writes:

do you think 15 is too young to come out? any advice?

u will know when it is time

Can we do better for Emily?


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beergoggles | August 3, 2007 11:33 AM

15 is old enough to evaluate your support structures. There really is no benefit to coming out at 15 and getting kicked out of your house with nowhere to turn to or even worse - being sent to reparative therapy. If you think that's where the situation will head to, wait till you're on your own two feet before doing so.

However, if you do have a parent or guardian that will support you through it, go for it. The very fact that you're asking the question means yo have some grasp of how the situation will go and probably means you already know that it's either time or that it's approaching.

Although very simple, I think Rosie gave some great advice. Coming out can be brutal and queer people can attest to the inner hell you go through when realizing your sexual orientation is different than the norm, and what that means in this society. This topic feels more relevant than ever with celebrities being outed.

Celebrities might be a different subject, but a person's (especially a teenager's) evolution to coming out largely needs to be independent. We all emotionally mature at different rates and can handle being gay in society at different levels. It's interesting seeing the loud and proud 15 year old high school freshman at pride events versus the 30 year old man at the gay bar on Friday night on the "down low". I'd like to see more compassion for people finding their way. It's interesting to think about.

Coming out is a lifelong process that is unique for every person. I agree with beergoggles. Whether you are 15 or 50, coming out to others means you need to make an evaluation of how safe it is. Will you be kicked out? If you do face the potential of being kicked out, do you have some place you can go? Or, can you be like many queer youth and be out at school with your friends and maybe a few teachers and come out to your family later? Is there an LGBTQ community center in the city/town where you live that has a youth group where you can meet supportive peers and adults? Or does your high school have a Gay/Straight Alliance? (To find out if your school has a Gay Straight Alliance, check out the GSA Network's website at www.gsanetwork.org.)

If you think you are ready to tell your family that you're queer, maybe you could role play with a friend or teacher and practice what you want to say. If you feel comfortable with what you are telling your family, it often makes the information easier to receive. Practice many different scenarios (like a positive reaction, and a negative reaction) so that you're emotionally prepared for whatever response you get.

No one has the right answer for everyone. And coming out isn't something we do just once in our lives. We are always coming out, every time we meet somebody new. But the process does get easier the more practice we get.

PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has a lot of great resources on their website to help you decide when it's the right time to come out. The address is www.pflag.org.

You might even have a local PFLAG chapter in your city/town where your parents can go to receive support. Because parents go through their own coming out process, too, when they find out they have a queer child. And it's important to remember that some days your family might be supportive and some days they may be less supportive. We all have emotional highs and lows. You've probably had similar feelings. Some days you might feel very comfortable being LGBTQ. And other days you might feel bad about it, depending on what's going on in your life at the time. This is totally normal. So don't be surprised if family members go back and forth on their levels of support.

I highly recommend a book called Coming Out to Parents by Mary V. Borhek. You can usually find it online at Barnes & Noble or in your local library. It's written for both parents and youth.

Another great website is called Out Proud. They are focused on LGBTQ youth and the website is www.outproud.org.

Good luck!
Serena

But wait -- Emily didn't say "is 15 too young to come out TO MY PARENTS?" The post just says: "do you think 15 is too young to come out?"

My answer: absolutely not! And if you don't think your parents will be able to take it... well, now is the time to start figuring out how to get the fuck away...