I have realized that I’m not straight, but I do not know how to tell my parents and friends – I’m afraid of their reaction.
Discovering our sexual identity is a very normal and typical process of adolescence. But sometimes, the journey is not easy. The fear you describe is common to many people who are not straight or cisgender.Unlike people who do not identify themselves as LGBTQI (lesbians-homosexuals-bisexual-trans-queer-intersex), LGBTQI individuals are required to go through a process called “coming out” or otherwise revealing and sharing their identity in society, their social environment, family, friends, school or workplace. A straight person would never need to announce to his family “Mom, Dad, Grandma I am straight!“. Most, would probably laugh at such an announcement and the discussion would end there.
The reality is not the same for LGBTQ teenagers. Due to the social stigma attached, “coming out” is a stressful process and you can never know or predict how each person will react to the fact that you are not straight. For example, you may experience rejection, confusion or anger if your identity is not understood, accepted, or respected. You may find yourself in a situation where your safety is at stake. You may need to repeat your “coming out” several times until your social environment realize the situation or/and accept it. Despite the difficulties and obstacles you may encounter, sharing your identity can be very comforting and liberating and enable you to express yourself more freely, honestly, and authentically. It can also create a sense of pride in who you are and help you evolve and become your most authentic version!
Whether and when you decide to speak to your family is a purely personal decision, very important and very difficult. There is no rule as to when, where, how or to whom you will speak first. You may start many times and regret it in the middle of the conversation, you may say it out loud, you may discuss it or send it in a letter or message, or you may think about it for a long time and not feel ready to do it.
As you prepare to speak to your family, keep the following in mind:
Ask yourself: Is this the right time for me? Do I really want to tell them or do I feel “obliged” to do so? In what context would I feel more comfortable talking to them? (eg at home, in a cafe, on the beach, etc).
Find out about your identity: It is very likely that your family will have questions about your sexual orientation or gender identity. You should not be solely responsible for informing and educating them. But it is important to have some “ready” answers so that you feel better prepared to manage the stress of the moment.
Seek Support: Throughout your preparation, your search, and even before you announce anything, seek support, train yourself to endurance, and find allies. You can contact us by mail and we will suggest solutions from the experience of other children. In case your parents’ reaction is negative or hurtful, it is important to be prepared and to have the people that will “hug” you and suit you. You can view or read the stories and experiences of other peers online, on sites, blogs, or videos. You can even get in touch with them through forums, groups on Facebook, or empowerment groups. In any case, you are not alone and you do not have to go through it alone! There are many people like you who understand your dilemmas and fears and can support you.
Take care of yourself: Sometimes, parents’ reactions are not supportive. They may be shocked, they may feel that they have done something wrong themselves, they may cry, they may even express shame or they may be verbally and physically abusive. None of them are responsible for you or your identity. However, it is good to have a self-care plan in case things don’t go as you expected. First of all, you can announce it with the help of a medical adolescent doctor, a psychologist or any expert you trust. You can make an appointment with your doctor right after your discussion, you can ask a friend to come by your house, you can go for a walk and put music on your headphones or you can lock yourself in your room and relax! In any case, your physical and mental security comes first.
EXPERT GROUP «ALL ABOUT SEX»
1. Charis Asvestis, Andrologist-Urologist
2. Chrysoula Iliopoulou, MSW/MEdPsyhcotherapist, Clinical Sexologist
3. Vasia Bouba, Psychologist MSc
4. Athanassios Thirios, Adolescent Health MSc
5. Efthalia Tzila, Child Psychiatrist MSc
6. Artemis Tsitsika, Asoc. Professor of Pediatrics-Adolescent Health, University of Athens
7. Panagiotis Christopoulos, As. Professor of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology,University of Athens