hey eric: i have a few problems and lots of questions so this will probably end up being lengthy. i guess i'll start with my story. i am a guy and i have a boyfriend and we've been together for six months. no one, no friends or family members know we are together. everyone just thinks that we are close friends; we are.
i'm not gay because i still find certain girls attractive but i don't know if i can say i'm bi because this is the first time i've ever had feelings this strong for another guy. in fact i've never even felt like this before not even for another girl and this is definitely more than a platonic crush.
i've read your book "what if someone i know is gay" about eight times. it helped me a lot about figuring out how i actually feel about my boyfriend. i was a freshman in high school when i first realized i was curious and i am now a junior and totally in love ( i realize love is a strong word for a sixteen year old but i know exactly how i feel).
I'm In Love! Why Can't I Tell Anyone?
the thing is i'm ready to start telling close friends about us but he isn't. i've tried talking to him about it and he is still scared and nervous about telling people in public. we are just like best friends. we are never intimate or hold hands or anything.
i know neither of us are ready to tell family members but i feel like six months together with no one knowing is enough time. do you have some suggestions on what i could say to him to make him feel more comfortable? or do you think i should wait until he's ready?
Dear Totally In Love,
Being in love is a powerful thing and I would never question that your feelings are genuine. I remember being just a little older than you are now and feeling those feelings myself. And it was amazing and a little terrifying. So there's no need to persuade me that your feelings for your boyfriend are very, very real. I completely understand.
Now, about your boyfriend's wish to keep your relationship secret. You're going to have to honor his wishes. This is not the kind of thing you can force, especially since the implications of coming out at school are pretty serious. If you tell a few of your friends and ask them to keep it secret, at least one of them is likely to tell someone else and even if they ask them to keep it a secret within no time a lot of people at school will know. And then before long your parents and your boyfriend's parents will likely find out, too. I had this happen to me at college and it was very upsetting (fortunately, I told my mother before the news got to her).
So unless you're certain that no one at school would react badly and that your parents would all be supportive, you can't reassure your boyfriend that everything will be okay if everyone knows the truth about your relationship. There's a lot of risk here, so even though you would like to tell people how happy you are and that you love someone the way you love your boyfriend, you're going to have to keep this secret for now. Even if your boyfriend agreed with your wish to be more open, which he doesn't, you would have to very carefully consider your circumstances--how your classmates would react, how your parents would react--before telling anyone.
I know that this is not ideal. It's not fair. And it's not easy. But we don't yet live in a world where same-sex love is universally celebrated (not even close!).
One person I suggest you talk to is a counselor at school if there's a counselor there you can trust with this secret. Or, if you can talk openly with your mother or father, that's something you could consider as well, but that depends on your relationship with your parents, how easily you can talk to them, and what their views are about same-sex relationships. (I would want to know more about your parents before recommending that you talk to them about this.)
It's important for you to have someone you can talk to other than your boyfriend about your feelings for him and your frustrations at having to keep secret your relationship. It's not good to be isolated (which I'm sure you already know).
All best, Eric