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Being gay is okay: Information and advice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and unsure under twenty-fives.

Problem page > Archive > May 2011

From [John] Age [24] Gender [M]

Dear Jason,

How are you? I'm glad I just made the cut off age...or else I'd feel reeeeeeally old. :P God help me when my next birthday comes. I have read most of the questions and answers on the Problem page and I have elements of some of them within my own problem.

I had some inklings of liking other guys when I was around 10 or 11, though from then to maybe 15 or 16, I was simply reading about things more and exploring my curiosity little by little.

I finally understood that there was an attraction...and if it's a phase, it must be a phase that has carried on to the present, haha. From my mid-teens up to now, I have come to understood more of my preferences.

However, like one of your readers, I haven't yet been in a relationship. Not with anyone. From the beginning of my attraction up to fairly recently, I focused more on the physical aatraction, in regards to guys. With girls, it was more emotional (similar to one of your other readers).

Trying to think back to the time before 10, I don't recall having an attraction to guys (though that's a while now, haha). I had mini-crushes or the like on girls and still up to now, I feel an attraction to certain girls.

I don't feel an attraction to all guys, I'm somewhat particular, moreso than with females. Anyway, I was fascinated with guys physically, though did not feel the compound of emotional connection.

It's not to say that I did not feel any emotions towards guys, I did, but not in a romantic way...only in a friendly way. I cherish the good friends I have, though I do not love them romantically.

Something has changed, though. I recently began communicating with a guy from your environs (well, part of the U.K). We wrote a few e-mails and have started writing letters. The odd part is that I thought it was simply going to be just another international friendship in the making, as friendship is my general intention when writing with people from elsewhere (I have been writing to people from around the world for a while).

The problem is that, from out of nowhere, I feel something more, for the first time. It does not make any sense. The guy has a girlfriend and I would never want to be with someone who I already knew was in a relationship...

...Yet here I am. I am not sure what to think. I don't need to lose a friend just because of a feeling from nowhere. I feel, though, from reading about him, like it's a long lost "friend". I feel, also, as if with some of the questions he's asked, it's as if somewhere in him, he feels something similar.

I have yet to receive a response from him, as snail mail takes some time, so I can only anxiously wait. From photos I have seen, he would, on the one hand, not be the "perfect" guy, though decent-looking. On the other hand, when I see him, it's as if the looks are at the bottom of the totem pole and I remember his words and the feeling I have.
I haven't yet dated for a few reasons, mostly due to circumstances with family. Having observed other relationships, I feel like I would like to be with someone I had an instant connection with (a little idealistic), rather than grow to love somebody. I feel like "growing" to love somebody means that you may lust after them first and then make room for love...which is definitely not my preference. I wouldn't, in other words, simply date someone for the sake of dating.

I'm sure I have many problems, haha, though I suppose I should formulate them into questions:

-How do you know it's love, if you've never met the person, nor talked to them over the phone/on-line? (If I had already talked to him on Skype, there would be a somewhat real exchange...hearing his voice, facial expressions, etc...but it's just been a few e-mails and ONE letter from him!)

-What would make this person different, if it's not about physical things? (I have and still talk to guys who stimulate me intellectually, though for whatever reason, this guy is different.)

-How would you proceed, if you were in my shoes?

-If you were me, would you try to date girls and guys, or not at all?

-Is it possible to have "love at first write"?

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

John

Hi John,

I'll try to tackle each of your questions:

How do you know it's love, if you've never met the person, nor talked to them over the phone/on-line? (If I had already talked to him on Skype, there would be a somewhat real exchange...hearing his voice, facial expressions, etc...but it's just been a few e-mails and ONE letter from him!)

I think that you'd get a different answer to this question from each new person you asked, because love can mean different things to different people, base don their experiences and what they hope for from a romantic connection. But I think everyone would agree that to be in love is quite different than the experience of friendship (though friendship is an important part of love). Until I met the last man I was in love with I'd been on lots of dates and several guys had expressed an interest in pursuing a romantic relationship with me. But I just didn't feel that special 'something', until I met my – now ex – partner. There's an elusive chemistry that you find once in a while, where your personalities seem to gel; you're 'on the same page'. That doesn't always mean that you have to be similar people though, because you can be very different, with different interests and outlooks, but still have this rapport and attraction that's hard to quantify or explain. I just knew I'd met someone who pushed my buttons and it just fell into place. The physical stuff followed naturally on from that and made the connection complete. I, like you, don't leap into bed with people and then hope that an emotional connection happens the next day: I need to feel a spark and a connection before we walk into the bedroom. That still doesn't guarantee that things will work out, but I think it's a much better basis for finding love if that's what you're looking for.

In terms of how love feels, when I was last in love I was exciting and happy when thinking about him; couldn't wait to see him each time; found the hours flying by when we were together; felt the desire to be close to him physically; and felt all glowy, silly and incredibly fulfilled and satisfied! I also felt jealous, threatened and a little panicked when an ex sent him a text message, and the thought of losing him was very distressing, like a chunk of my chest was being pulled out!

It's completely wonderful, sometimes painful, and utterly unmistakable.

I certainly think long-distance romance is a reality, but it's as much a love for the possibilities and the fiction than it is the reality of the person on the other end. You can only really know if there's a special spark once you meet in person. At that time individual elements – like whether his photo makes you swoon - become irrelevant and you just simply feel something or find that it's a big romantic dead end. I've experienced both outcomes and there isn't a science that can predict either.

What would make this person different, if it's not about physical things? (I have and still talk to guys who stimulate me intellectually, though for whatever reason, this guy is different.)

It's hard to put a finger on what it is about one person that makes you feel a certain way that a – on paper – similar man doesn't. Calling on my own experience again and the example I used earlier: I dated several men before I met my past partner and they were all nice, intelligent, good humoured men. But I knew very quickly that I wasn't as keen as they were, that I just didn't feel that special way I knew I would feel with the right guy. Someone might appeal to you as good looking and attractive, but that feeling can soon evaporate once you get to know them and realise that they're everything you dreamed of... if only you never had to sit and have a conversation with them.

This man who you've been communicating with has obviously struck a chord that others haven't. It doesn't matter why.

How would you proceed, if you were in my shoes?

This man has a girlfriend and lives so far away that even if he was a single gay man you'd struggle to conduct a relationship – other than a penpal friendship or romance. I think ultimately this will leave you feeling unfulfilled and frustrated, and missing out on romantic opportunities with people closer to home. Underneath your questions about love are practicalities that can't be avoided. Still, this man has made you think about your feelings, who you and and what you want, and this is important.

If you were me, would you try to date girls and guys, or not at all?

Unless I found someone attractive and felt a special connection with them I would not date them. It's not enough to take friendship to the next level if there's absolutely no physical attraction and extra romantic spark. Unless you feel a real natural attraction to someone, don't go there. There should never be a sense of 'trying' girls or guys. You either feel genuinely pulled toward them or you don't. I know it's not what you're trying to do in your case, but you won't make yourself straighter or gayer depending on who you 'try' to date.

I would get on with your life, make an effort to socialise and meet people, and see who comes along. You'll know when you meet someone you want to get closer to.

Is it possible to have "love at first write"?

As I said earlier, I think you can certainly get swept up in the romance, the ideal and the fiction that a long-distance connection brings, and this can feel very potent, exciting and important to both parties. But the reality is sitting opposite each other in a cafe and seeing how much is real, how much you'd created inside your own head, and if there's a connection with the letters and emails put aside. You do hear of people meeting this way and getting together, but I've found that it's very hit-and-miss. Expectations can ride out of control while you're carefully crafting responses to each other on Skype.

This particular romance probably doesn't have a great deal of mileage in it because of the practicalities I mentioned earlier. There's nothing wrong with continuing to communicate and enjoy a friendship with this guy. But out of respect for his relationship and his girlfriend, and a need to face the geographical obstacles, it's probably better to cool things and shift your focus to meeting people closer to home. You're obviously not quite sure what you want, but by making your sexuality such a focus in your thoughts you may actually muddy the truth of your feelings. This isn't an experiment where you should try lots of options and see if any feel okay; you just need to live and see what experiences and opportunities come up. You're bound to eventually meet someone who simply makes sense.

From [Joshua] Age [14] Gender [M]

Hi Jason

I really need your help I'm so messed up right now. I'm gay and Ive known I was gay for a year now and for a year I've lived someone else's live I've created an identity that doesn't allow me to be myself I feel alone and isolated and there's no way out. I was in my lesson last Thursday and I just broke down crying the stress and frustration was to much at that time so my teacher found out and offered to help me as she claims she has seen my mood get progressively worse over time my parents know my mums ok with it but prefers not to talk about it and my dad is so caught up in his own little world that his definition of being gay is having gay sex and he doesn't know anything in a few weeks I'm seeing a nurse from wakefield about it all and my parents don't know a thing although we don't get on together in this subject but I can't lie to them there my parents but if I tell them they will not let me go to any visits to the nurse. The pressure is getting to much I have my GCSE,s
coming up soon and I have this on my mind and I have to put on a straight face for everybody and I need to keep working hard to het the grades I need I'm constantly reminded about what options there are in life and what I want to do in the future I have to keep battling my parents to get just a little bit of a social life as they don't let me out at all your my last resort please help me I need your advice

Hi Joshua,

It sounds as though you have some things to feel positive about: your teacher has offered to help and you are seeing a nurse (I assume for counselling). So you've been brave enough to speak out about how you're feeling and to accept help. This is a big step that not everyone feels able to take. If you strongly suspect that your parents would prevent you from taking advantage of this help, then it may be best not to share it with them. I don't like telling anyone on this page to be dishonest with their family, but if the family are likely to cause someone distress and make their situation worse then there's no room for other options. Of course, please do consider, when you're feeling calm and can look at the situation rationally, whether you truly think your parents would block you from getting help. How have they behaved in the past when you've been upset and needed support?

It's also a good thing that your Mum knows about your sexuality. Even though she's not being supportive, as such, she hasn't blown up and made your life a misery. It's far from perfect and far from what a Mum should do when her child confides in her and could do with some support, but it's also not as bad as many readers stories. It's not unrealistic of me to suggest that she may get used to the idea and be more supportive in the future. As you say, you're putting on a brave face, so the chances are that your family don't know quite how upset you are at the moment.

Something else to be positive about is that you seem to know yourself. A lot of people who write in are very confused about their sexuality and don't know if they are gay, straight or bi. You say that you are gay, and the problems you are having is with the world around you and not with yourself. This is significant.

You want to find a peace and acceptance in your home and outside. It's only natural that you don't want to live a lie. You could begin to ease this pressure by coming out to a close friend or other relatives.

Remember that you're doing nothing wrong by simply being gay and not telling people about it. When you come out is up to you and the pressure to behave a certain way and convince others that you aren't gay is pressure that you are choosing to apply. I expect most people are oblivious to your distress because you use a lot of energy into pretending that you're feeling fine. Be kinder to yourself and let some of your defences come down. Stop trying so hard to appear heterosexual and be a bit more daring if people ask you about it. It's okay to look sad if you feel sad, and to accept the kindness and concern of others. Try to be yourself around people and you may be surprised how much easier it is to be friends with people and have fun.

Take advantage of the help on offer from your school, and by making some changes in how you behave around people you could soon be feeling a great sense of relief. Whenever you feel that things are getting on top of you, take a moment to take a deep breath and think calmly about the situation. You will often find that the only person putting the pressure on is you.

From [James] Age [17] Gender [M]

is it essential to tell your parents your gay? all my friends have been tellin me its about time i shld tell them as i have been gay for quite a while now, the reason why i hvnt told them is becuz my dad is a massive homophobe, my best mate is my boyfriend, and my dad found out he was gay, so he isnt allowed round my house anymore he doesnt know we are together and he will prob kick me out and disown me if he finds out. im not sure what i can do :(

Hi James,

Is it essential to tell your parents that you are gay? Ideally, yes. But in reality: it depends on the parents and your current dependence on them.

In an ideal world our parents are the closest people to us. They offer unconditional love, support and encouragement, and they forgive us when we make mistakes. For many people this just isn't the case and coming out can have terrible consequences for the child.

Until a child leaves home they are dependent on their parents for providing a secure home to live in and financial support. If you have reason to believe that this support would be withdrawn if you came out, then I strongly advise you not to do so. Wait until you have your own home and money. If you feel that it's absolutely vital that you come out before, then make sure you have a plan B if the worst case scenario comes to pass. Do you have a friend or relate to stay with and the money in the bank to look after yourself and pursue your immediate goals (college, university etc.).

Even if you aren't kicked out – and making a child homeless is an unforgivable and drastic act that I hope few gay children ever experience – it's safe to assume that life at home will be uncomfortable once you come out. Your Dad feels strongly enough to ban your boyfriend from the family home, so he's not going to welcome your news either. Only you can guess how long it might take for Dad to come around, if at all.

Even if parents would rather not hear it I do think it's important that they know the truth. As life goes on and you inevitably create a home with a male partner it becomes harder to hide the truth from anyone. Many people feel that they can't live a completely happy and free existence without the honesty that coming out brings. In my opinion, coming out is more a case of when than if. The 'when' is a personal thing and unique to each individual that isn't just about how a person feels. Sadly it's often about practicalities too.

From [Amy] Age [15] Gender [F]

Hi Jason,

I've liked guys for as long as i can remember but about 2 years ago i started noticing girls and i'm really sexually attracted to them as well as men.

I hate labels and think that people just like who they like so its not so much a case of ''coming out'' as just wanting to sort of let people know that if i do like a girl, then not to freak out, and that someday when we talk about relationships that i might want to talk about a girl that i like.

I would tell my best friend but she has very evangalistic parents and i doubt they would want me in their house or hanging out with their daughter if they knew i was atracted to girls, as to them i would be going against God.
I know my parents would be okay with it as they are pretty liberal thinking but i'm not very close to them so i dont feel i can talk to them about this kind of thing. I have a lot of close guy mates who would be okay with it also but i can't talk to them as i don't trust them to keep it to themselves.

Girls tend to be quite b*tchy about things and i am worried that if i said aything they would take it the wrong way or be offended and not want to do things with me anymore ie. sleepovers.
I am also worried that if people knew then they'd feel aqward in the changing rooms near me, or mistake me saying that they look nice as me perving on them or fancying them.

If you have any advice on what i should do then i would greatly appreciate it thankyou :)
Amy

Hi Amy,

Your concerns about how life might change are very common: worrying about girls thinking you're sexually interested in them simply because you are bisexual. Of course we, and anyone with half a brain, know that simply because you can find women attractive doesn't mean that you find every woman in the room attractive! As a heterosexual woman you wouldn't fancy every guy that walks past you. But sadly, some people do have some strange ideas about what it means to be attracted to members of the same sex, and dispelling those ideas and creaky stereotypes in a calm and patient way, thereby educating people, is part of life for bisexual and gay people.

Effectively you want to stating to others that there's a possibility of you becoming involved with a woman at some time in the future. It's a fairly low-level 'coming out' and only you know how important it is that people have this information at this time.

It seems that whichever way you turn to come out you have a valid reason to stop in your tracks, but if you want to come out then you'll have to take the plunge with someone.

You think that your male friends will be okay with it, but they won't keep the news to themselves. Perhaps they might be more sensitive with this issue, especially if you stress to them how important discretion is. In theory, anyone you come out to may speak to others about it. That could be prompted by a mischievous desire to gossip, or the need to talk to someone about concerns they might have. At some point you have to trust someone and hope that they will behave sensitively and appropriately.

You think your parents will be okay with your bisexuality but you don't have a close relationship. Perhaps by speaking to them about something personal like this you could build bridges and foster a closer bond. You may find that your parents have useful insights, plus you don't have to worry about them gossiping with school friends. Your parents, close or not, may be the best place to start.

From [Allysa] Age [16] Gender [F]

hey jason
um this is embarrassing sorta. I'm a lesbian well yeah duh lol
and i have really really really homophobic parents my dad is in the military and my mom is a PA for some random person (sorry about the vagueness) any advice about coming out?
the subject has come up a few times and they have made it clear they dont want me to be gay. however its awkward as i cant ave my girlfriend round very often, or at least if she is round we have to act straight and enither of us want to pretend anymore
sorry
thank you

Hi Allysa,

It sounds to me as though your parents might already suspect that you are a lesbian. It strikes me as very strange that they should express to you that they don't want you to be gay if they don't already think you might be. I could be wrong, but I think perhaps they're already – at least to a small degree, albeit with a dose of denial – acknowledging that things might not go their way.

It's good that you can at least have your girlfriend round to visit, even if you feel that you have to modify your natural behaviour together to avoid suspicion. To further protect yourselves from any drama at home, you may want to see each other at her parents house if you feel that they are less homophobic. Still, it sounds as though you have reached a point where you are at least considering coming clean about your sexuality and your current relationship.

I cover the issues in detail in the dedicated coming out section, but I'll say here that it does seem likely that your parents won't be over the moon to have your lesbianism confirmed and it's likely that your home life will change, at the very least in the short term. Worst case scenario, you may find that leaving home is the best option if your parents react in a particularly negative – or even hostile – way. If you think, even for a heartbeat, that there's a chance of your parents cutting you off, then it's wise to wait until you have left home of your own accord and are financially independent. You know your parents and how they've seemed when discussing these issues, so you can make a much better guess at how they might behave than I can.

I'm not telling you not to come out, but I think it's a very good idea to think about practicalities first. Coming out is tough enough when a person doesn't know how their parents may react, but in your case they have already given you a rather negative heads-up.

From [lil old me] Age [36] Gender [F]

I am a 36 year old woman who is very curious towards a new found friend.

I have always been in a heterosexual relationship that had lasted for a good few years and has resulted in having 3 planned children (2 are teenagers and a 4 year old.) I've closure of my relationship with the children's dad as i had support from my female friend who was in a similar situation herself and so therefore a strong friendship was formed. Of late i have felt sexually attracted to her and often fantasize about her and how it would be. (i've never had strong feelings like this about same sex person). I also find myself wanting to care for her and hold her when shes sad. We'll have a cheeky flirt with each other and we really get on well. (shes always been in heterosexual relationships too.) How do I know if this just isnt a good friendship and im not going mad. I find the female form very sexy but does this mean im gay.

Very confused.com

Hi Lil,

The difference between a good friendship and something more certainly has emotional differences; the way you feel about a friend and a lover are different. But the best indicator of where you sexuality is leaning is the way you respond to this woman sexually. You say that you have felt sexually attracted to her and fantasised about her and how it [sex] would be. This isn't usually how people feel about friends, whether male or female.

As I discuss in my FAQ section, sexuality isn't a black and white issue. Rarely is anything in the natural world 100% one thing or the other. I've had straight friends who freely admit to thinking about the odd bloke they have fancied, or found themselves wondering what a same-sex encounter would be like. I've also had gay male friends who's met women that have made them question their exclusively gay outlook. You have assumed, all these years, that you are a heterosexual woman and had no reason to think otherwise. But this one lady has awoken something in you that's been dormant – or slight enough to be ignored – until now. This is completely natural and certainly not unheard of. The real issue here is what you want to do about it.

The sentence about your relationship with the father of your children isn't clear, but I assume both you and your female friend are single mums and unattached. So why not talk to her about your feelings? She may feel the same and there's nothing stopping you from enjoying a romantic relationship with her and exploring these new feelings, sensations and experiences; it could be very exciting and fulfilling for both of you. Worst case scenario: she says she doesn't feel that way about you. It sounds as though the friendship is strong enough that you can carry on as friends even if she isn't up for more. Why not take a leap into the unknown – you body and mind seem to be giving you a push in that direction.

From [Rory] Age [19] Gender [M]

Hi, i need some advice, i have always wondered about my sexuality from when i had my first serious relationship, i am in my second year at uni and i have been with my girlfriend for nearly 6 months, and now more than ever i am sure that it's not women i'm interested in. It started when i struggled to get erections during intercourse, and i would never reach orgasm. She wondered what was wrong and i explained i was nervous, but the truth is, during sex, (which i try and aviod at all costs) all i can think about is other men in my class, at first i tried ignoring it but now i have realised i cannot hide from it. The worry i have is, how do i let my girlfriend down gentally, and secondly i am terrified that i will lose my best friends, who have on more than one occasion demonstrated an 'anti gay' attitude. help and advice would be hugely appreciated, Rory

Hi Rory,

I often tell people on this page to end their relationships with their girlfriends. This is a sad thing to have to say every few weeks, sometimes to several readers, but I believe it's the only right thing to do. A gay man can't continue in a romantic relationship with a female. It's not at all fair on her and it's not fair on you. She deserved the opportunity to meet a man who will desire her sexually, and you deserve the opportunity to meet someone who you are attracted to, in every sense.

Breaking up is never pleasant, but you can do it in a respectful and considered way, in person and with plenty of time set aside. It's up to you whether you tell her about your sexuality, or if you choose to say that you've changed and don't think it's fair to continue with her. Ideally though, and if you want to have a chance at friendship with her afterwards, the full truth is probably due.

There is always an element of risk when coming out. I can't say whether you'll lose any friends or not without knowing these people personally. And even then, you can't always predict how someone will react to the news of someone they thought they knew revealing something surprising and significant about themselves. It's true that sometimes those we suspect of being homophobic, because of a few throwaway and silly remarks they've made, can turn out to be fine at the news of a friend coming out (this happened to me once). I tend to think that it's worth the risk; it's better to have friends who know the real you and still choose to be at your side, than to have someone's friendship because you've hidden truths and denied them the opportunity to be okay or not with your homosexuality.

It may be convenient for the time being to hide your sexuality, but you'll likely find that things become very complicated when you find a boyfriend. It's not fair to hide someone away and turn them into a secret, and it's difficult to keep lying to a best friend about your love life and who you're spending so much time with.

I think you've reached a point of change and action is required. Either the lies become deeper, or you share at least some of the truth and forge a healthier and more positive – though not necessarily easy – way forward. At the very least, and without delay, you need to think of your girlfriend and what she deserves.

From [Morg] Age [24] Gender [F]

Hi
I would like some advice because I have gotten myself into an incredible stew which is having an affect on my health.
Basically, I am lesbian and have known since I was 14.
I told my mum and she went nuts saying it was just a phase. After leaving school I got together with a boy (lets call him Kev) I had known at school and was with him for five years believing I could change. I was wrong and ended up hurting him with a girl that I met and ended up having an affair with. When I spilt with him my mum went crazy and called me all sorts of names.
After I left Kev I carried on with this girl but things didn't work out as she had serious issues. Mum was totally against it and I got no support off family members. I am very close to my grandma and aunty but never approached them as I saw them shaking their heads when I was with her last.
I felt so free with her and it felt so right. I'd never felt so happy.
But now I am with a yet another guy (I'll call him lee) and am stuck in an awful situation. I've been with him for over 2 years now. He is amazing and we are like soul mates.Last year I was diagnosed with chronic illness (fibromyalgia) and he has really been through thick and thin with me, supporting me all the way. Even so....none of it feels right. Sex has now stopped completely and so many tears and near break ups have happened its unreal. I don't have anybody else but know I am gay and always have been. My mum has gone balistic over the notion that I might breakup with him and I am heading toward a nervous breakdown.
But....I recently came out to my aunty and grandma and was stunned and amazed that they said they knew already and were disgusted at mums treatment of me over it before. That they love me for who I am.
Although this is fantastic news for me it doesn't make my decision any easier. Everytime Lee and I go to break up neither of us can do it and just stand crying in the room with me sobbing that I want to change and don't want to be this way because I love him. At the same time my heart wants him it will never work out sexually and I've always felt right with a woman.
I'm even receiving counselling due to the stress of both my illness and my situation.
I would be grateful to just have an outsiders advice.

Regards

Hi Morg,

It's a real shame that your mother's disapproval of your sexuality (which is about as pointless of disapproving of your eye colour) has shaped the big relationship decisions in your life. I think you probably know that without the family pressure you may well have got into a same-sex relationship and be in a very different situation at the moment. It takes a great deal of courage to face the disapproval of family members head-on, and do what you know is good and right regardless. Naturally, what your mother thinks of your life and your choices is important to you, and nobody would blame you for bending to her wishes over the years, but I think it's time to put her needs aside and make decisions based on your own needs.

It sounds like you have a very supportive and loving boyfriend but, as you've pointed out, you can't desire him in the way you'd like. Much as you do love him, you know that he deserves the sexual interest of a heterosexual women and, as importantly, you deserve and need to desire the person you're in bed with.

So you've reached a point where you're facing the truth of the situation head-on, but it's scary as hell. You and your boyfriend are clinging onto each other, knowing that the right thing is to separate, but also very reluctant to say goodbye to the close bond that your years together has fostered. I know it's hard as hell, but you know that separating is the right thing to do. How that happens and what you say to your boyfriend is down to you, but I think that it would be a real shame, considering how close you are and what you've been through together, not to tell him the whole truth and allow him to see how hard this has all been. He needs to know that there's nothing he's done or not done that could have changed the situation.

It's important, when in danger of getting caught up in the negative, to think about the amazing revelation that your aunt and gran are fine with your sexuality and disapprove of the homophobic attitude exhibited by your mother. Lean on their support during this tough time; you do now have family behind you, whereas you weren't sure in the past.

I wish I could say something that would make things easier, but take comfort in the fact that you actually have a firm grip on the reality of the situation and the changes that need to take place; what needs to happen in order to move forward and find the relationships that you and your boyfriend deserve. The immediate future will likely involve some difficult changes, but I think in the long term, for happiness and health, it's best to be honest.

From [Aisling] Age [16] Gender [F]

hi my name is aisling and i'm 16 years old and a lesbian
I was just wondering is there a lot of other homosexual and bisexual women in Ireland?
would there be a strong chance that i'd meet more girls like me who i could have relationships with? because I don't know any other lesbians or even homosexual boys,
is it even possible that i'd ever find someone to be with in the future like straight people find their husbands and wives ?
It's just that at the moment I'm really lonely, I always see other girls my age with boyfriends and everyone seems to be in a relationship but I don't know anyone else like me that I could be in a relationship with and i'm worried that even in the future that i'll never find 'the one' or whoever because I'm lesbian

Hi Aisling,

It's common for young gay and lesbian people to feel isolated and lonely. It can feel as though you are the only non-straight person in the world during school years as it's a time of uncertainty when few people are self-assured and confident enough to come out. But the reality is that there are many lesbian, gay, bisexual and unsure people around you, in school and outside it.

If you choose to go to college when you leave school you will notice more of an LGB (Lesbian, gay, bisexual) presence, and greater still at university where they often have LGB clubs or societies. The wider world of work can vary, with some companies having out gay people, and other organisations having a more conservative feel. But once you're old enough to branch out on your own and take up a job, you're also old enough to explore the gay scene and explore various way of meeting gay people without the restrictions that people sometimes feel when living at home as a teen.

In the meantime, take a look the special section about looking for new friends. It might feel as though you'll be single forever, and that straight people just magically and easily fall into perfect relationships. The truth is that there are simply more straight than gay people and that straight people don't feel any need to hide their desire to form couples. Heterosexual unions are celebrated openly, while gay people may feel the need to hide. It doesn't mean that there aren't any gay people around, or that they're not having and enjoying relationships. It's certainly the case that the likelihood of 'the one' being out there for you is the same as for anyone else - gay or straight. You might just have to work a little harder to find her.

School is a small place and the world outside has many more opportunities and possibilities. A little patience and a proactive approach to meeting people could reap rewards.

From [Jay] Age [16] Gender [F]

I tried so many times to tell my family(mom,dad,brothers,and sister) that Im gay. However, when I tell them they just laugh and think Im joking. How do I get them to understand that this is who I am and its not a joke??

Hi Jay,

This is quite an unusual case. Most emails I receive usually tell me of families that are either supportive or unsupportive – this is the first time that I've heard of a family who simply laughed and didn't take coming out seriously.

On the plus side, the reaction of your family doesn't necessarily mean that they have a problem with the idea of you being gay. But clearly this is a situation that's not good for you and leaves the issue of your sexuality in the home in a sort of limbo.

How did you approach the subject? Were you nervous and giggling? Did you manage to explain yourself fully, or were you interrupted? Was it a good time, or were there distractions that your family got caught up in?

Attempt to come out again (although, technically, coming out to someone only happens once!). Read my coming out section for tips. Speak to your mother or father first, perhaps at the same time. Choose a time when you won't be interrupted. Take a deep breath and then calmly explain yourself and how important this is to you. Explain that it's taken courage to tell them and speak about how long you've felt this way. Remind them, in a non confrontational way, that you are a young adult at 16 years old, and not a prepubescent child.

If you find that after this second attempt you still get laughed off, then you may need to be patient with your family. As time goes by and they see that you don't magically wake up straight one morning, they will begin to accept the reality of their gay son. In the meantime, don't hold back if you want to bring the topic up again. You have a need to be heard and understood by those closest to you, and you deserve to be.

The Samaritans (UK and ROI) provide emotional support, 24 hours a day, by email and telephone for people in distress.

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