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

Problem page > Archive > September 2011

From [Gwen] Age [16] Gender [F]

Hi Jason,
It's been about half a year since I started considering the possibility that I was bisexual or even completely gay. I'm having a lot of difficulty coming to terms with it. I'm stuck in a place of feeling like I shouldn't even have to come out, like I am who I am so why should my sexual orientation change anything, but I realize that it's not that simple. I feel as though I owe a proper coming out to my friends and family but I'm scared, terrified actually. I worry that my entire reality will change in an instant and that I'll spend the remainder of my high school life wishing I hadn't alienated myself because of this. Before I even consider that though, I could really use some help with figuring out who I am. The potential for insight through experience is kind of limited in a small town but I don't really want to wait until I move into an environment more accepting of differences. Questioning everything about yourself makes every relationship (no matter the context) tense. Every time I make a typical teenage girl joke to one of my friends I have this moment of anticipation that I'll be called out for being "overly friendly". I can't stand it. Any thoughts, ideas, or advice would be monumentally appreciated.
Thank you,
Gwen.

Hi Gwen,

What you owe to your family, and, as importantly, what they owe to you, is unconditional love, respect, honesty and acceptance of what it is that makes you all unique. It's normal that you want to come out, as is a feeling of guilt that comes from keeping such a big secret. But you're doing nothing wrong by keeping your sexuality to yourself until you feel ready, especially as you're still figuring things out and coming to terms with it as it forms.

But in terms of 'figuring it out' you don't need to live in a big city or have met thousands of people. You know in your gut how you feel when you're around a girl, and that's why you've written in to bgiok. Trust your instincts; your physical and emotional responses to people. As I often say on this page, you can't go far wrong if you just listen to the information that's already being provided inside your own body. Things will become clearer with time.

It'll drive you mad if you analyse your ever word and movement, anticipating what people might think. You have to just get on with your life. The people around you may not know that you are questioning your sexuality, but they do know you to one degree or another. They choose to spend time with you; they like you and enjoy your company. Accept that simple fact, relax and enjoy these friendships. Some relationships may change when you do come out, but you're not some big manipulator by enjoying things as they stand now. Remember, being bisexual or gay isn't something bad that you're going to inflict on loved ones. It simply means you like girls, and you're still all the things you were before you came out. If other people choose to pile negative stuff on top of that and lose sight of the connection that you shared, then that's not your fault.

It's normal to imagine a worst case scenario around coming out, that everyone will turn against you. The reality is often less dramatic and absolute. Only you can guess how people will react. Only you have known them for years and seen how they handle problems and change. Only you know whether the people close to you tend to run away when you need their support or whether they rally round. Think back, put aside panic, and you may get a clearer idea of how things might develop if you came out. I have more information on this topic in the coming out section.

You don't have to have all the answers at 16, Gwen. It's okay to relax, enjoy time with friends and push coming out into the future for a while. At the moment, the only person putting pressure and stress on yourself is you.

From [L] Age [15] Gender [F]

Hey Jason,

I stumbled upon your site and after perusing the problems page I figured that you may be able to help me (or at least give me some advice) on my own.

I am a bisexual female and while I couldn't say that I'm ready to go flaunt it, I am definitely comfortable with the idea.

I have 'come out' to two people in my family, my twin brother who I came out to first and my mum. They have both been really supportive, especially my brother who, when I told him just shrugged and told me that as long as I was happy it was fine with him. I know that I'm really lucky to have them.

However, my problem isn't with my family but with a very close friend of mine. This is going to sound horribly cliched but she is honestly like a sister to me. I love her in the same way and as much as I do my brother. The problem is that she is a Christian who believes that being homosexual or bisexual is wrong. She doesn't hate us (she's the kind of person who finds it hard to hate anyone) but she believes it is a choice that people make and that it is the incorrect choice.

I don't know how to keep this a secret from her! I know people say that friendships at my age do not normally last for a long time, but I don't want this one to end! Her family is basically my family, her mum often says that I'm basically a daughter to her. I don't know what to do! Every time she tells me about the cute guy she likes and ask me who I like (who by the way is a girl) I have to lie and say no one or make up some guy and every time we talk about uni (as we're both approaching out two final years of schooling) and that if she gets a flat mate or room mate she wants it to be me. It's like something twists inside of me. What am I suppose to say to that? Because I want to, but I know that realistically it could probably never happen....

Basically, what I'm asking is for some realistic advice. I just need some help! I don't know what to do! Please, it's really stressing me out.

Hi L,

I think you know that sooner or later your relationship with your friend is going to face some changes. You may not end up going to the same university but it's obvious that, especially considering how close you are, you're going to have to be more open about your sexuality or risk beginning to lie to her to cover up. But friendships don't have to vanish because people get older and aren't necessarily in the same building all day, and not all friendships dissolve because someone reveals that they aren't heterosexual.

Again today I find myself wanting to reassure someone that they haven't done anything wrong; being gay or bi isn't some wicked thing that you're letting loose on your loved ones. You were born this way and you're the same great person that you were before you began to realise. In an ideal world, your friend should accept and love you regardless. As I said to Gwen in an earlier reply, you can get a pretty good idea of how your friend will react based on how she's behaved at other times in your life when you've had problems or have needed her support. Remember, you're not a dreadful, deceptive person who's enjoyed a friendship that you don't deserve. You are a great person who your friend likes and chooses to spend a lot of time with.

But it will only get harder to conceal such a big part of your life from someone so close to you. As you get older and the questions about your not having a boyfriend become more frequent, and you find yourself in love with a girl who doesn't want to be a secret, the issue of coming out can't be sidestepped or delayed without causing upset and complications to yourself and potentially a girl who wants to be close to you.

I think that it's better not to have a friend at all than to have one who'd hate you if they knew who you really were. On the other side of the coin you may have a situation where the truth brings you closer and pulls down some walls in the friendship. I think, ultimately, you need to give your friend the opportunity to be cool about things – something she can't do while she has no idea what's happening. It doesn't have to be today, but certainly before you make plans for a future where you may be room-mates or have other plans that involve a similar commitment.

From [Spencer] Age [15] Gender [F]

Hi, I'm bisexual but I'm very confused at the moment, I'm thinking that I may be full gay. A few people think I may be too. I'm not attracted to guys that much, I always seem to be attracted to women. But I like a few male celebrities who I find very good looking. If a guy asked me out I know my answer would be no straight away, but if it was a girl I know I'd say yes. I can't seem to get on with guys as much as I can girls and I show very little interest in guys. My mum thinks I should try a boyfriend as I've never had one before but my answer is always 'I don't want a boyfriend'. I just can't seem to imagine myself with a guy. All I think about is girls, girls and more girls. What do you think? Am I bisexual or lesbian? Please help, its starting to stress me out!

Hi Spencer,

It sounds to me as though you are probably a lesbian, or certainly a bisexual person who leans much more toward women. You seem to have a strong sense of what you like and want. You can't picture yourself with a guy; it just isn't a particularly appealing prospect for you.

I cover this in the myths section, but your mum is wrong to suggest that you should try a boyfriend as some kind of way of deciding for sure. If you don't want to be with a guy, then you shouldn't. It's that simple. Nobody asks straight people to have try a same-sex relationship to be sure that they are straight. It's the same thing. And nobody is saying that you can't change as you get older. You may meet a guy one day who makes you feel something that you usually only get with girls. It doesn't really matter. As long as you're doing what feels right to you. It sounds as though you're doing exactly that.

From [Chloe] Age [15] Gender [F]

Hey Jason,

I'm fifteen years old and a few months into a relationship with a girl who used to be (and basically still is) my best friend. We have been really close for ages and had both been denying having any sexual or romantic feelings for one another until one day we both admitted this to one another. We are very happy together, and i love her more than anything.We told a few of our closest friends and were lucky enough to have completely positive reactions. However, I recently told my parents, who reacted in a reasonably good way, but they are now considering stopping us from sleeping over at each other's houses. I know that if i were in a heterosexual relationship my boyfriend would not be allowed to stay over, but we have been used to this for so long, and i love being able to fall asleep with her in my arms, and if my parents took that privilige away from me I would be devastated.I want to prove to them that we can be trusted! Our relationship is under enough strain already, what with having to pretend we are just friends at school and in public places,and i feel that if we can no longer sleepover it could really damage this relationship which i treasure so much! please help!

Hi Chloe,

I know it must be hard to be used to sleeping over with your girlfriend and now face the possibly of losing that. But I do undertand where your parents are coming from on this one.

Before you came out to your family they had assumed that you were sleeping over with a friend, but now they have to consider the implications of you sleeping over with a girlfriend. Essentially, they are worried that you are having under-age sex. The age of consent in the UK is 16 (the legal age at which a person can have sex), so although it's painful to lose that opportunity to be close to your girlfriend your parents do have good intensions and legitimate concerns.

This doesn't mean that you can't be alone with your girlfriend sometimes though, or that you have to miss out on being physically close to her. But when it comes to staying over, you may have to be patient and raise the issue again once you are both 16.

Jason.

From [John] Age [18] Gender [M]

Hi, i've been in relationships with women only and had sexual relations with women and find myself more than happy, however i've always received oral sex from a man, and enjoy watching gay porn and lesbian porn. I find the idea of sex with a man arousing, but the thought of kissing or being close with, or even having a relationship with makes me sick, i constantly find women in the street attractive and fantasies about them and while i might think a male looks good i never think about them, what does this make me?

Hi John,

If I had to put a label on you - and there's no reason why anyone needs to - I'd say that you are bisexual. You find the idea of sexual activity with men and women exciting and have done both. I don't think you should get hung up about it and just take each day as it comes i.e. the day to day matter of the gender of the person that you are having sex with simply depends on who has come into your life and makes you feel a certain way. If you only ever do what feels good and right for you then you can't go far wrong in life.

Over the years of running this website I have sometimes heard from guys who say that they maybe have a girlfriend but like the idea of sex with men, though they feel that the emotional and loving side of their romantic needs can only be found with a women, or that they just don't like the idea of being in a relationship with a man. I'm not sure whether this is down to hang ups about being 'properly gay' i.e. being in love with and letting a man love them back, if this is a case of not having met the right guy, or if this is a phenomenon that's just not widely recognised. Personally, I think if a person has sexual desire toward men as well as women then it's likely that the capacity to form a deeper bond with a man is there too. But of course it depends on the person you meet. You might meet a guy who turns you on and you have great sex, but outside of the bedroom he doesn't really connect for you. Maybe there's a guy out there who might tick other boxes for you and offer a stronger emotional connection.

But, putting speculation aside, none of this really matters. Do what you like doing. As long as you're not being stopped in your tracks by hangups about certain things, and as long as you're being honest with yourself, then you're on a path to being happy. Be open minded about the people you meet and what you body and mind tell you about how you feel about them.

Jason.

From [Chloe] Age [?] Gender [?]

Hi Jason,

I'm a 16 year old girl and I'm fully aware that I'm into girls; sexually and emotionally. However I still have deep care for some guys but I just really can't imagine myself doing anything sexually with them. I don't know if this makes me bisexual or a lesbian. I'm so confused right now. I've been aware of it for about 4 years but as I child I often dressed as a boy which may have been a sign that I was going to like girls. I've accepted that I like girls but have only told 4 people. 2 teachers and 2 close friends. They were all ok with it although I think my best friend still feels slightly awkward talking about it. I respect her feelings and understand that it will take time for her to come round fully to the idea. I'm emailing because I used to self harm by cutting, burning and punching walls for other reasons as well as my sexuality but the punching recently is because I was angry with myself for liking girls. Some days I cry myself to sleep because of it. I want to tell my parents but I'm worried that I'll get into my old habits of self harm again. I still sometimes self harm when I find things really hard but nowhere near as much as I used to. I feel angry with myself and sometimes when I'm high up on buildings for example I look down and feel like jumping. I have never told anyone that. I know this isn't the answer but I just want to feel happy and 'fit in'. I've liked several girls but I feel like a pervert and very guilty when I think about them sexually. I feel like I'm betraying everyone. I'm not sure what to do or feel anymore. I don't want to dump it on my friends and I don't want to hurt my parents. I think they'd be devastated; especially my mum. Any advice would be greatly appreciated if any at all. Sorry about the length and thanks for reading.

Hi Chloe,

It's fairly common to have suicidal thoughts when depressed, but there's a difference between it popping into your head, like a daydream, and a real plan to end your life. If you feel that your suicidal thoughts are strong and pervasive, then it's time to get help from a doctor who can advise you around issues of mental health and refer you to a counsellor. If you have moments where you feel desperate, call the Samaritans. However, what really needs to happen in the long term is for you to feel happier and better about your sexuality so that these negative thoughts and temptations simply have no reason to exist.

In the opening line of your email you admit that you are sexually and emotionally into girls, but that you might also have feelings toward some guys. You also say that you have told a few people. This is positive stuff, because it says to me that there is a level of self acceptance at work and that you have felt comfortable enough with your sexuality to open up to other about it. Then your email takes a very different turn, with self harm, secrecy and depressive type thinking. I wonder why this contrast exists, and what stopped the Chloe who wrote the first few lines and has a lot of good things from grabbing that positive momentum and running with it. I think the key to feeling better is to bring that positivity and self assuredness, the Chloe who's actually okay about being lesbian or bi, back into the foreground.

Working out why there's this part of you who feels bad and guilty about being lesbian is vital. On one hand you have accepted it and told people about it, and on the other you are terrified of coming out and feel miserable about your same-sex feelings. Why do you feel like a pervert? Same-sex attraction is part of the natural world and two people enjoying each other is about as wonderful as life gets. Why do you feel like your betraying people? You have no control over your sexuality and it's not something you're doing to someone - it's just who you are. Why do you feel guilty? You haven't committed a crime or done anything wrong. Why do you think that being lesbian means you don't fit in? You're the same person - the same friend and family member - that you were before and you should still have a place in these units. Being lesbian doesn't disqualify you from existing bonds that you have with people; you haven't changed.

Feeling better about who you are will take time, but I think that the seeds are already there. Remember the Chloe who knows what she feels and was brave enough to tell people about it. Read the content on this website. It may help you to understand yourself better. Consider talking to a counsellor. Perhaps your school has one, or ask your doctor to refer you. That way you can talk about anything that's bothering you without the worry of your family and friends finding out. Also remember that it's okay to talk to friends. That's what they are there for. Wouldn't they be upset to think of their friend suffering and not feeling able to reach out for their support? Give someone a chance to help you. Things can get better if you start to nudge life in the right direction.

Self harm information.

Jason.

From [Iain] Age [15] Gender [M]

My grandmother always told me that all gays were predators and freaks after I came out to her and it went on for years. She's gone now, but I can't get her out of my head and it's been going on for years. Is she right?

Hi Iain,

Sometimes the words of people we love and respect can really stick with us, for good or bad. I'm sure your grandmother was a good person who loved you, but she was wrong about gay people.

Saying that gay people are all predators and freaks is a bit like saying all straight people are good and pure. Gay people are as diverse and varied a bunch as straight; there are good and bad gay people. You are gay, so you tell me: are you a predator and a freak? Do you prowl around, coldly hunting for men and behaving strangely? Or are you just a regular guy - a good person - who is simply attracted to men instead of women? I'm gay and I'm not a predator or a freak. I run a website for people like you, I work full time, I have friends and I go on dates – normal stuff.

There are definitely some predatory freaks out there, both straight and gay, but your grandmother was wrong to label a massive groups of people in this negative and damaging way. You can hold onto your respect for your grandmother while also disagreeing with her on some things. When her words pop into your head, tell them they're not correct. Be firm and challenge them with examples of why they are wrong (like the ones I've used), and then think of other things. As time goes by you will think of it less and less and break this negative thought habits. After all, regardless of your grandmother's views on homosexuality, I'm sure she wouldn't have wanted her grandson to struggle with distressing thoughts that make life tougher.

From [Lou] Age [14] Gender [M]

Hi

Urm well I haven't done anything with a boy or girl but I'm pretty sure I'm gay as I have no feelings (both sexual and emotional) for girls apart from as friends..

So should I come out as gay or not as I haven't done anything with a boy, but I strongly doubt ill become straigh all of a sudden?

Its kind of a myth really, to be gay do you have to do something with a boy to come out ?
Thnks x

Hi Lou,

It is indeed a myth that you have to do something sexual with either gender to know whether you are gay or not. I've written about this in the myths section (see the first myth, here).

From [Sven] Age [13] Gender [M]

Dear Jason,

I am 13 and I am gay. I've, in a way, known all my life but I only realised in October 2009. In that time, I've told 6 of my friends, all of whom are female. Things were going great, up until about April.

I was...ahem...masturbating:L and I clicked on oen of the pictures and it took me to a website with a picture of a young kid receiving anal sex from a man who looked above age. I was horrifed and shut my internet down and I was, until I told my friend about it, petrified I was going to be arrested but she made me see sense and I vowed to try and become a paediatrician or a child protection worker to defend kids from paedophiles.

About a week later, I was vising my aunt and uncles and i suddenly thought, you would be better off being a girl. I knew it was junk though, i don't want to be a woman and just because I'm camp and feminine that doesn't mean you should be a girl.

All was great, until about the end of May. i was sitting in the orthodontist's waiting room and a wee 5-year-old or so watching just playing about in his chair. I was looking at him or watching him whatever him for a while and i just suddenly thought to myself, "omg you're such a paedo." I then just thought "well, this is bullshit. you have never been sexually attracted to a kid or anythig like that." I didn't tell anyone about this because i was scared of being judged and being branded a "wierdo" or a "sicko". i tried to tell one of my friedns about it a few weeks later through facebook chat but I just couldn't explain myself well. However, it did make me realise what crap it was. But it never went away.

For the next 2 months it was tormenting me every waking moment, no matter what evidence I had that i wasn't.

Then came the summer holidays and being without school, a distraction meant it was all crippling me. I contemplated suicide. In addition to this, a group if boys in my year, I was ever in their presence, would shout abuse at me about me being camp and "a gay pussy." One of them has done it through facebook as well. A few days later, I was out with 2 of my friends and they said i'd been acting differently, I then just brokedown and told them the whole thing. They said i should've told them earlier and how it was crap, that i wasn't a paedo and that eveyone goes through rough patches. i felt better. But the whole thing just kept spiralling round and round my head.

After this, I was going through one of my friend's facebook pictures and there was one of her when she was 11 wif another 11 year-old boy on holiday in their swimsuits. Before the whole thing i would have just flicked past it but I wasn't rational, and i was forcing myself to look at it and form an opinion when i had no idea. i mean, they're attractive, but they're not sexy or hot or anything:/

I eventually broke down, and through aching sobs, I told my mum about all the tormenting thoughts that had been crushing me for 2 months. But I didn't tell her I was gay. She told me what bullshit it was and talked about how your 13 and paedos were old men not 13 year-olds. She and my dad set about making me feel better, telling me that I was great, excetera, excetera. They also said taht i should have told them earlier, so that they could have been a human backboard, hearing my thoughts and putting any stupid ones to rest instead if letting them sit there and grow into a massive monster:(

The whole thing has completely dented my confidence. i know Im not a paedo, but now i'm confused when i comes to people my own age. I can look at guys in the streets who are 15, 16, early 20's or whatever and think "HOT, or BABE." I think that because I think someone in my year is hot, i must like someone who is younger than me too, because we've got similar bodies to 11, 12 year-old because of puberty, etc etc

To be honest, i don't even know what I'm asking, but this has just let off some steam:/ can you give me an answer to this sort of thing?:/

Please help me Jason,
Sven

Hi Sven,

Nowhere in your email do you say that you are sexually interested in very young children. I think you've become fixated on this thought and it's now proving very hard to shake it off. I need to also remind you that, at 13, you are a child yourself. It's only natural that you will form romantic interest in your peers; people around your own age and who you spend most of your time with. This is a normal part of growing up. Sure, teens have crushes on adults, but it's people their own age who they have their first dates etc. with, and it doesn't make a group of kids paedophiles for dating each other.

The very definition of paedophiles is an adult who is sexually interested in children. You are not an adult. You are a child who is battling – like every young person – to discover who he is and what he wants. You're afraid of being something bad or wrong and have become fixated on it. Rationally, you know that you are not a paedophile, but that doesn't stop the irrational mind from clinging onto these negative thoughts.

I think it's wonderful that you clearly have a supportive family who are doing exactly the right thing: telling you that these thoughts, while important to you, aren't helpful and are groundless. They are negative and distressing and deserve no place in your head.

Being a paedophile and a young gay person are completely different things. You saw some imagery on the internet that caught you off guard and has shaken your confidence and your idea of yourself. It's time to really challenge these negative thought patters. The next time the thought pops into your head that you are a paedophile, answer it back with real facts:

  • You are a 13 year old child who is gay. You are not a paedophile.
  • You accidentally witnessed some pornography that may have contained someone under-age. This caused you distress.
  • You are naturally interested in people around your own age. A child noticing, and being curious about, another child romantically and physically is not paedophilia.
  • Because you are a good person who wants to be happy and normal, you worry.
  • These are just negative thoughts that you've fallen into the habit of dwelling on. These thoughts don't represent who you really are.

It's important to counter your negative thinking with positive facts like these. Every single time they pop into your head, give them a punch with this positive stuff and put them in their place. Then think about something else; distract yourself and don't get stuck. Eventually the thoughts will lose their power and you'll have them less often.

You are a normal young man who's just getting to know himself. You've become fixated on something negative and painful, is all. Listen to your folks and practise positive fact thinking. And don't spend hours analysing yourself or your every emotion or response to things. Tell your brain to hush for a while and just have some fun doing things you enjoy without stopping to analyse each moment.

From [?] Age [14] Gender [M]

I had sex with two other boys at the age of nine and think that my experience has made me feel gay whether i am or not. Should i deny the feeling i have and try to be straight or should i just accept that i am probably gay now and accept it and come out?? I am popular at school and have female attention but dont want to lead anyone on when i am unsure of my feelings. Im also unsure of wether i would become a reject and unpopular! Help!

Hi,

You had sexual experiences at a very young age, and way under the age of consent (16 in the UK) so it's little wonder that this has skewed your ideas about your sexuality and given you doubts now; a time when your sexual identity is establishing itself. Please give some thought to what these experiences at 9 actually were: if you were experimenting with friends of the same age, or if someone was involved who pushed you into something you didn't want. Please speak to an adult if there's more to your email than you've told me.

Early sexual experiences don't make someone gay or straight. If you were completely heterosexual, then you'd find yourself sexually interested in women, regardless of having experimented with males years before. It's a bit like suggesting that the first sexual experience you have sets your sexuality for life, which isn't the case. People don't always have sex for the right reasons, and it isn't always an expression of who they, what they want and how they feel.

You're still very young and there's no rush to label yourself as gay or straight. Try not to analyse your feelings too much and simply allow any attraction you feel toward either gender to be. Clear out the worry and rubbish from your head and what's left is room for clear information about who you fancy. And if that information isn't there yet, give it time. It will come.

From [Jane] Age [?] Gender [F]

Hi, this is my first time viewing the site. Iam a female from the usa. U can call me 'JANE'. Hope u will write back. Sometimes i do feel alone, i try to be a christian but like most things it is hard. My question is for myself- how does a person come to fully know that he or she is gay? Hope it is alright to ask. No offense meant in any way. From, 'JANE' PLEASE REPLY, THANKS !

Hi Jane,

Thank you for your email.

To answer your question, 'how does a person come to fully know that he or she is gay?', is much the same as answering the question: how does someone know that they heterosexual?

We live in a world where it is assumed that you are straight unless you say otherwise (or if someone else gets it into their head that they know best). When a child expresses an interest in the opposite sex, we applaud and encourage it. But if a young person suggests that they might be gay, we tend to tell them that they are too young to know who they are. It's a real double-standard. But simply, you know you are gay or bisexual because you feel attraction toward members of your own gender - it's as simple as that. There are no extra stages of development or strange obstacles to conquer. The only problems that a gay person may have with coming to terms with their sexuality are caused by the attitudes of others and society at large. Nobody is born with hangups about being gay - we learn those from other people.

So a gay person comes to know that they are gay in the same way that someone comes to know that they are straight: by being attracted to people and wanting to be more than friends. A person might not always be sure how much they like one gender or another, but things tend to become clearer as a person gets older.

From [?] Age [14] Gender [F]

Hi Jason I am a 14 year old lesbian I have not came out yet but that's not my question I have a girlfriend and she is 16 years old and she ask me last night if I would have sex with her and I says I would think about it but I am not sure what to expect if I say yes and I really love her and I think she might leave me if I say no help me

Hi,

The age of consent in England is 16, which means that it's illegal to engage in sexual activity under this age. The law is designed to protect young people from adult physical relationships that they may not be mentally and emotionally mature enough to deal with. It's also about protecting young people from older people.

While your girlfriend is at the legal age, you are not. I understand the desire for a young couple to be physically close, but it's wrong of her to ask you for sex. She'll have to be patient, and decide if she is prepared to wait. It would be wrong to have sex with her because you're afraid she'll leave you otherwise. You should only have sex with someone when you are old enough and when it feels right. I know it's a painful thing to think about, but is it right to do things that aren't right in order to keep hold of someone? That's not a healthy habit to get into in a relationship.

From [Sam] Age [15] Gender [F]

Hello! I been with this girl for about three weeks and we've kissed and she wants to take it farther. I really like her, but I don't feel comfortable with it. I feel kind of trapped. She doesn't want to tell anyone about us, especially not her parents. She is too ashamed of what they would think of her because they are catholic and doesn't want to be labelled that way. In a way this makes me not trust her as much as I feel like I should be able to, and that's why I don't feel quite as comfortable with her. Is that a bad thing? I also feel like I'm becoming more ashamed of me because she's having me hide with her. I just don't know what to do. I am out at school, and I hate this feeling of being trapped, but I really like her. Do you have any advice for me?

Hi Sam,

It is completely acceptable and normal to want to be open and honest about your relationship with friends and family and to expect respect and consideration from your partner. It's clear that your girlfriend is not comfortable with being gay, and this means that she wants to relationship with you to remain a secret. It's understandable that you don't feel relaxed about things and that the secrecy is making you feel less good about yourself. You and your girlfriend are at different stages of acceptance: you are out and fine about being lesbian, while she clearly has a lot of work to do. You are not being unreasonable to want to a girlfriend who is proud to announce her relationship and introduce you as her partner. This is the healthy and normal way of things.

Relationships are private things and, of course, there are matters that you wouldn't share with friends, but the fundamental things, like admitting that you are together, should not be a secret. In the long term the relationship will struggle under these circumstances.

It's up to you how patient you are with your girlfriend, and perhaps she will change. You mustn't allow your own confidence and self worth to decline in this, but you have only been together for a few weeks. Tell her how you feel but be patient with her. Not only is she in her first lesbian relationship but she's also facing coming out in a Catholic family. Be supportive. In the long term you might get what you want, but it's too soon to put heavy demands on your girlfriend or to break up because things aren't absolutely the way they should be. If your girlfriend was deliberately treating you badly I'd tell you to walk away, but what we're really talking about here is a frightened young person with some big decisions and changes to face. Maybe you can help her through it.

From [Ross] Age [17] Gender [M]

Open Letter to BGIOK,

I am relatively new to this site and indeed, to the whole idea of discussing my sexuality concerns with anyone because I
tend to be a very private and defensive person. However, it has come to the point where I feel that I can no longer keep it
to myself and consequently, I am using the relative anonymity of this site to seek advice.

Having had only heterosexual role models, it came as a shock when two or three years ago, at the age of 14 or so, I realised
that I was not attracted, or interested, in women like I thought most boys should be. I began to experiment with "online sites"
and I even had an SSA (same-sex-experience) with a "friend" which lasted for quite a while but, in the end, I couldn't do
it anymore because I suddenly became very emotional and to cut a long story short: I know can't even stand to look at the
person with whom it happened. I became slowly filled with resentment and self-hate for various reasons: having done something sexual under the legal age of consent/recking the whole preservation of virginity idea, although I don't really understand that whole idea; watching "innaporopiate" material on the internet; not having a definitive sexuality and not dating girls
like most of my friends were doing. Women, to me, have always been special, wonderful and occasionally really good friends;
although I feel a distinct lack of attraction towards them physically. Furthermore, whilst my friends and younger brothers
have an uncanny knack of noticing 'hot' women when we are out and about, I have to tell myself to look because it doesn't
come as a natural instinct to me. I am, on the other hand, attracted to people of my own gender and find myself noticing
attractive people accordingly.

Resultantly, I have become very reclusive over the last few years and have remianed single because I didn't feel the need to
ask a girl out. I just assumed that one day I would meet a women who I would find attractive and we would go through the
motions as shown by society. I know worry that I will be lonely forever and since I am unable to make lots of friends at the
best of times, won't even have anyone who understands.

I decided to test the waters last week and tell my mother that I thought that I might be gay. Armed with an elegant plan of how it would all work out, I went through to speak to her but then had seconds thoughts and ran back to my room like a little child afraid of getting in trouble. In the end, when my mum came through to see what was wrong I ended up blurting out 'I am Gay' and bursting into tears. Not exactly as planned but still a step in the correct direction. All she said was that it would make 'no difference' and that I couldn't possibly be sure yet. I was very upset and remember saying that I disliked having this problem and that if I was gay it would ruin my life.

In my heart I believe that I may be gay, but my mind keeps telling me that I am something else, anything else, infact and this makes me feel like a bad person because I love the uniqueness of every human being and everybody as a person regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality (etc.) I wish I had a simple answer, but there is no litmus test to tell a person their sexual orentation and this lack of knowledge has left me feeling powerless and depressed with no-one to talk to with out the possibility of "coming-out" - properly this time.

Many Thanks,

Ross.

(PS): I just joined the BGIOK site under the name "The Little Muffin". Your site has proven to be invaluable as of late and
you should be proud of the help it offers to lots of people!!!

Hi Ross,

Thanks for writing in.

I think it's important to focus on the things you do know. You say you aren't sure about yourself, but in another part of your email you say that you don't notice women sexually, but that you do notice men. That's a pretty clear indication of where your sexuality sits. Your Mum is wrong that you can't know at 17 that you are gay. I imagine she knew she was straight at 17, as did your brothers. You seem to have some negative ideas about what being gay might mean for you, even talking about it ruining your life, but then in another part of your email you speak about celebrating diversity in people; there's some real conflict here between a very positive person who's actually fine about being gay, and a negative person who's afraid but isn't specific about that fear.

You already came out to your Mum and, although I disagree with her on the point already raised, she seemed to handle things well, telling you that it wouldn't make a difference. You did a positive thing by coming out, even if it didn't play out in quite the way you'd planned. So why has that positive momentum stopped right after? You like guys, you have to 'try' to notice women and I think you know that there's a big difference between a gay man and a straight man who simply hasn't met the right women yet. Confiding in a close friend about your sexuality is a good next step. You also now seem to have the option of speaking to your Mum about things too. Certainly, worrying about it on your own isn't doing you any good.

You can feel better about being gay, but you need to shift your thinking and let someone in. You weren't born with hangups about your sexuality and you weren't born thinking that homosexuality is wrong. People, and society at large, pile all that negative stuff and expectations on top as we grow up, which is why same-sex desire is not always accepted at face value and why it can cause so much distress to those who experience it.

From [Liam] Age [21] Gender [M]

What advice would you give to someone who is worried about health implications on the gay lifestyle E.G. Depression, HIV Etc.

Hi Liam,

Depression and HIV are not inevitable aspects of a 'gay lifestyle' (I'm not really sure what a gay lifestyle is, and don't think I'm having one!).

I cover both mental health and HIV in the mental health and myths sections, respectively.

From [Erin] Age [24] Gender [F]

Dear Jason,

I have a bit of a problem with the way my friends have accepted my coming out.
I have moved from Australia to London and since come out at the age of 24, all within 18 months.

Of my immediate group, I have four gay friends, including my best friend but none of them can understand why I'm not as "out" as they are.

They get annoyed when I don't want to go to pride events and protest walks (they're quite politically involved).
They don't understand why I won't discuss my sex life.
Most of all, they don't understand why I'm not out there tearing it up and sleeping with everyone if I'm single.

I cannot seem to bring myself to even say the words, "I'm gay." I keep dating women and then upsetting them by refusing to be affectionate in public. I don't like going to lesbian bars unless it's a mixed group.

I have come out to my parents, to fairly displeased reactions.

Am I just being impatient or should I address my fears with my friends about being 'out' in public? Do you think I should give it some time?

I hope you can give me some good advice. At the moment, amongst people I thought would understand, I feel more than ever that I'm out on a limb here.

Sincerely,

Erin.


Hi Erin,

Thanks for writing in.

There's nothing wrong with not being as outspoken, politically motivated and simply as 'out' as your friends, but I do get the feeling that the problem here is twofold: your pushy friends not accepting your differences, and your uneasiness around your sexuality.

The first issue is the easiest to deal with. You have to speak up about how you feel to the people who are supposed to be interesting in your feelings and needs: your friends. It's sad that the group of people who, in theory, should offer an environment where you feel included and accepted is the group who make you feel like an outsider and that you're somehow not a 'proper lesbian' unless you're shouting about it and waving banners around. You could compare it to someone who is vegetarian: He or she chooses not to eat meat because they think it's unfair to mistreat animals. They might stop at this dietary shift, but they might choose to take things further, by joining a local animal rights group or organising protests or fund raising events. Both options are valid and meaningful, and that person isn't less vegetarian for choosing a quieter and more personal approach.

I think that sometimes gay people are in danger of making their sexuality their whole life focus and turning everything into an equal rights rally. Being a lesbian needn't be more than you want it to be. It means that you like girls instead of guys. What you layer on top of that is up to you, and this is the point you need to make to your friends.

The second issue will take more time to work through. It's very sad that relationships suffer because of your discomfort around showing affection in public, your inability to even say that you are a lesbian and your unease in gay bars unless there are straight people in the group mix. It's not uncommon for a gay person to feel this way. We live in a straight world and we all want to be accepted and not judged in a negative way. But in order to be happy, to fully enjoy your friendships and to give romantic relationships a proper chance at success, you need to work on feeling better about being lesbian and to push aside worries about what other people think. While your friends sound a bit bolshy, it's great that you have these confident, 'out and proud' influences around you to counter the poor coming out experience you had at home. You don't have to work toward becoming a lesbian campaigner, but you could do worse that draw strength and inspiration from these strong characters who are clearly determined to live life openly, as themselves, to hell with what any homophobes think. Try letting your guard down a bit. What's the worst that can happen if you kiss your girlfriend in a gay bar? Chances are you'll both feel great and your confidence will begin to grow. Don't let the hangups of others, and hangups that you've adopted, ruin the chance to be happier and to be properly close to someone.

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

BGIOK receives no funding, so all costs are met by myself. Please click the donate button to help with the running costs of BGIOK. Thank you, Jason.