Re: Sexuality problems
It's fantastic that you've been able to embrace your sexuality without much judgement on your part! That can be really hard, you should be proud.
I reckon @dncinginthedirt, @hellofriend and @Sunflower18 have given some wonderful advice already. I also wanted to say that you're not alone! I'm 18 myself, live in a small community and finished Yr12 at a small religious highschool last year, and I felt pretty trapped too. My peers considered gay stuff a meme (I'm not a joke tyvm!!), teachers were unsupportive, and I had leadership roles in-school and in-church. My only friend was pro-LGBT but I feared (these fears were unfounded) that things would get awkward, she might tell someone, she would pressure me to think a certain way... or something. All I wanted to do was express myself somehow! :/
I take it that you're still deciding whether you'd like to come out to your peers? If so, I found it really helpful to consider this: "what do you aim to achieve by coming out?". I've put some more specific food for thought in a spoiler tag below.
Are you just wanting to get this off your chest? Maybe openly discussing your sexuality in an online space like this will suffice?
Do you feel like you're not acting like the 'real you'? If so, how do you want to express yourself instead? Just like whenever we hold onto a big secret, sometimes we can get paranoid and overthink how people perceive us. You might notice all these gay idiosyncrasies -- what you say, what you wear, who you like etc -- because you're closeted, but realistically those dots are too vague for people to draw connections. People won't normally conclude that you're gay if (say) you show support for the LGBT community, because straight people do that too. Granted, people are more likely to make assumptions if you dress or act more feminine, but they're nothing more than assumptions. If someone comments on it, you could always point that this doesn't make someone 'gay' (I find Conan Gray's expression an inspiring example of this).
Do you want some sort of tangible emotional / mental support about this from a friend? This is a hard one, but try not to overthink people's reactions. I've found that most teens these days, including religious ones, are pretty supportive. If there's someone you trust in particular, you could maybe discuss LGBT things with them (like you did with your parents today!) and see how they react before deciding. Just always move at your own pace.
Do you want to change people's homophobia / mind about LGBT stuff? If so, then realistically, will you coming out actually change their mind? Is it worth sticking yourself 'out there' right now?
Are you wanting to get into a relationship? This can be tough because obviously you'll need to come out before you can have a relationship. Maybe think about whether there is anyone at school who might reciprocate one? If not, it may not be worth coming out yet and especially if you don't feel safe. Do remember that there IS a life after school too, where you can explore with much more freedom.
You said you go to a religious school. If you don't mind me asking, are you religious yourself? This can add another layer of complexity too.
If it helps, I personally decided to not come out during school. I had watched that video that was posted and it help put my sexuality into perspective -- I didn't want the attention. I later came out to my close friend for a bit more emotional support after deciding that I was overthinking things, and they were supportive. I also told my parents because they deserved to know, and I knew they'd stay respectful regardless of how they felt. I still have this overwhelming desire to express myself sometimes, so when that happens, I draw, dance and watch a bit of YouTube. I have decided to buy a rainbow bracelet next year to tie up my expression, as it has dual symbolism to me -- it acknowledges my attraction to guys and my commitment to my religion (e.g. the rainbow is symbolic), which means if anyone asks, I've got two options.
Anyway, what do you think? I hope that wasn't too much reading and that something helps! You sound like a really wholesome guy and you've taken a big step opening up here. Keep at it bro!
Re: Sexuality problems
It’s nice to meet you too @unwind! You’ve mentioned that you don’t want to give your parents the burden of keeping it away from your friends and others from school, but is there another family member you could reach out about this?
There is, but he is really pushy! I think it would be difficult to explain to him that I don't want to tell anyone else at present.
Re: Sexuality problems
Wow, thank you @nyke, that was all very helpful. Your environment sounds almost identical to mine; it's nice to know that other people experience this, as bad as that sounds now reading that back haha.
I'm going to go through your points chronologically because I have a lot on my mind after reading that!
I have a close friend who I talk to almost everyday, although she doesn't go to my school (it's an all-boys school, which arguably makes it more difficult), and I've considered coming out to her. I know that she wouldn't have a problem with it, but I have the same fear that I will somehow become exposed, or that it would start some kind of snowball effect where I would increasingly become pressured (by myself) to come out to everyone in my life. So that's where I'm at with that.
And yes, I do want to come out to my peers - for a few of the reasons that you've listed in the spoiler (to varying degrees) - but I know that the reception will only make my life difficult.
YES. I hate not being able to be forthcoming with people I meet, I feel guilty in some odd way. But talking on here has really helped, and it can suffice for the time be.
Do you feel like you're not acting like the 'real you'?
Don't think that this is the case - I think that I would act the way I do if I was out. The only change being that I would be more outspoken about LGBTQ+ issues.
Do you want some sort of tangible emotional / mental support about this from a friend?
I don't know if I want direct support, but more knowing that they support LGBTQ+ people would be good enough, if that makes sense. I'm an only child and quite reserved, and sometimes don't like when people are intensely supportive, but I do acknowledge that it's coming only from good places. It's true what you mention about religious teens being supportive, I find that to be the case as well. To be honest, most peers in my class wouldn't have an issue, but it's just the few that ruin it. You'd hear the occasional "that's gay" comment followed by the class collectively going "oooooooooooooooo" and someone saying "it's 2018", it's hard to work out if they're being sarcastic or not sometimes. However, the younger kids are really immature and the word "gay" seems to be the first thing off their tongue in a fight.
Do you want to change people's homophobia / mind about LGBT stuff?
I'd like to think I would, but it wouldn't be my primary objective; it would sure be a feat at a religious school. I'm friends with a bunch of people at school who have negative views of LGBTQ+ community, so I think that it would really change their perspective of LGBTQ+ people if I came out to them - it would definitely challenge their stereotypical image of a gay guy.
Are you wanting to get into a relationship?
Not really, I don't think I'd come out with the aim of getting into a relationship. I'd only do that if I knew there was someone who had an interest in me, otherwise I would feel like I'd failed in some way. Plus, I think relationships are difficult at my age, and rather just wait until I finish Year 12 in two years.
I'm a Christian, but not heavily devout. I don't believe most theological principles (my religion teachers would be so mad) as I tend to lean more towards scientific reasoning, but I do follow Christianity in the sense that it guides me to be a good person and keeps me accountable for my actions towards others - loving my neighbour as myself (it's ironic that the very religious people at my school struggle to do that in this case).
I think my biggest issue with coming out is the thought that people will see me different or treat me different. I don't want to be a gay student, I want to be a student who happens to be gay, if that distinction even makes sense. I'm just not sure how to convey that to be honest. I don't want it to be such a big deal! Maybe that's just me, I don't know
At the end of next year I'm going on an international school trip and I've decided that, whatever the circumstances, that I'm going to be completely open then - I'm not going to make it a big deal but I won't hide it either. There's one student selected from all different schools, amounting to about 20 students, so no one knows anyone else.
So what do I think? A lot. But one thing I know for certain after reading through your insightful response and writing my reply, which I have been periodically writing throughout the day, is that all will be okay; thank you so much for making me feel better. I've really been able to take a breath and think about the whole situation, and honestly this is the first time in my life I've sat down and actually articulated my thoughts to the point of a normal breathing rate. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but I will think back to this day and your thought-provoking questions for years to come, especially when I decide to fully come out.
Thank you man, you've helped me so much. I hope you have a great 2019, filled only with the good things life has to offer.
*and sorry if THIS was a lot of reading - I just had so much on my mind that I had never spoken aloud or written before.*
Re: Sexuality problems
I didn't know I had a twin @unwind!! But in all seriousness, I resonate with basically everything you posted. When you say "I don't want to be a gay student, I want to be a student who happens to be gay" --- like, MOOD. I think I will be stealing your phrasing whenever I need to explain myself in future haha.
It's fantastic that you have a close friend who you can talk to when you need! Realistically, I think it's highly unlikely she would expose you. It's sounds like you've had deeper discussions with her in the past, which shows there's trust there already. You could test the waters by sharing some other secret first, if you like that. If that doesn't get out, then you know for sure that she's trustworthy. The snowball effect does exist to a degree, but I honestly reckon you'll be fine. It seems like you're very intentional about what you say, which means you should have enough restraint to keep this from snowballing if you don't feel fully comfortable. But above all, it's okay to not have a decision straight away. I can't imagine her disappearing any time soon, so there's no rush.
"It's hard to work out if they're being sarcastic or not sometimes."
Yeah, I agree. Unfortunately people seem to develop their meanest streaks in Year 9/10 (social stuff is hard!), but everyone tends to mature out after that, and even more so after school.
But yeah, it sounds like you're at peace regarding the situation now, so that's cool. All the conclusions you've come to make sense (waiting until post-school for a relationship is a good idea imo), and I'm glad you're able to take a breather now. Good luck for your international trip next year -- that sounds like a ton of fun!! It'll be interesting to hear of how it goes.
Plus, thanks for all of your kind words! I'm honoured to be of help despite being pretty new to this journey myself. I hope you have a stupendous 2019 and maybe we'll see each other around a bit more!
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