FIGURING IT OUT
Trying to know for sure if you’re attracted to someone of the same sex can be confusing. It might take a while for you to figure it out, and there’s no need to rush. Some LGBTQ people say they “felt different” since when they were young, but it took a while to think of themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. If you’re feeling confused, you’re not alone. Sexual orientation and gender identity, like many things in life, develop over time. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure. And, if questions over your sexuality are making you feel depressed, anxious, or insecure, or are interfering with your life, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend, counselor or someone else you trust. You can also speak to someone directly by calling The Trevor Project Helpline at 1-866-488-7386.
COMING OUT AND LIVING OUT
“Coming out” often means telling others you’re attracted to people of the same sex; that you identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual; or that you identify as transgender. For everyone, gay or straight, accepting and understanding sexuality is a learning experience. You might feel comfortable going through this learning process by yourself, or you might want to draw on the experiences of other people. Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) have local chapters where you can get help from people who have gone through the same things that you’re experiencing now.
You may want to start by telling someone you really trust that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This might be a close friend or family member who you think will be understanding and supportive. Remember that deciding whom to come out to and when to come out is completely up to you. The most important thing is that you are honest with yourself. Click here for ten things to consider when coming out.
If you have a friend who may be struggling with their sexuality, make sure they know you are there if they need to talk about anything. But remember that you have to let a friend make decisions about their sexual orientation on their own terms and when they are ready.
If a friend or family member confides in you about their sexuality, be supportive and allow them to talk through their feelings and fears. Coming out can be a difficult process and it helps to have a strong support network.
It’s all of our responsibilities to stand up against discrimination and harassment. If you have a friend who is being harassed or you see someone being treated unfairly, reach out to that individual or report it to an authority figure. It’s important not to assume these issues will resolve themselves. Being bullied, mistreated or discriminated against can make it more likely someone will become distressed and engage in harmful behaviors like suicide.
If you see discrimination in your community and want to put an end to it, find ways to take action with the Human Rights Campaign and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).