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Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

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BE YOURSELF
- Questions and Answers for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
and Transgender Youth

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  1. I think I might be gay
    - but what if I don't know for sure
    ?
  2. I don't see anything that says other people are gay. Am I the only one?
  3. Is it normal to be gay?
  4. I thought gay or lesbian people act certain ways. If I don't fit a stereotype, am I still gay or lesbian?
  5. Do I need to worry about HIV and AIDS?
  6. Will I be accepted?
  7. I feel so alone. Who can I talk to?
  8. Should I come out?
  9. Who should I tell?
  10. How do I tell my parents?
  11. Will I lose my straight friends?
    - and where do I find gay friends
    ?
  12. Can I have a family of my own?
  13. Everything Possible by Fred Small

Introduction

The world can be a tough place for a teenager. You're in one of the most confusing times of your life.

For one thing, your body is changing more than it will at any other time. Your hormones, hard at work, can be playing around with your moods. You may feel great one day and miserable the next, for no clear reason.

The rules are changing. You're expected to act more and more like an adult. You may have new adult responsibilities like volunteer work or a part-time job but you might not be given adult rights, like coming home at whatever time you want.

Your relationship with your parents is changing. You're becoming more independent and they're having to accept that you are growing up. That's not easy for either of you.

All of a sudden, something you didn't think about a few years ago - all the emotions of sex - might feel like the most important thing in the world.

If you're a gay, lesbian or bisexual teenager - or think you might be or have wondered if you are - it can be even more confusing. This is a time when teens sort out the best fit of their heartfeltness and erotic attraction so as to be able to have healthy relationships in the future. Most of the images, all the messages we get from media and school and our family and friends focus on being heterosexual. Being heterosexual is assumed to be the only way to be. If you don't see your feelings and behaviors reflected anywhere, it can seem a bit confusing. It is probably not you who is confused. If the only images you ever see are of white families and you are Native or Asian, does that mean you are confused about who you are? Of course not - but you might be confused about where you "fit". This is quite normal.

When you were younger, your parents and relatives may have kidded you about liking girls if you're a guy - or guys if you're a girl. Maybe they talked about "when you grow up and start dating" or "when you fall in love and get married and have kids of your own" - but they probably never talked about when you grow up and fall in love with another guy or about marrying a woman just like you. Most families assume everyone in the family is straight and our society actively encourages boys to "like" girls and girls to "like" boys, good-natured kidding about liking someone of the opposite sex is a way of encouraging that connection.

TV, movies and magazines mostly show men and women being with each other. The music you hear is usually about falling in love or getting it on with the opposite sex. If you're a guy, your friends are probably talking about girls. If you're a girl, they're talking about guys.

All of that makes things difficult if you're gay or lesbian because you aren't seeing or hearing much that relates to you or YOUR feelings.

This was written to try to help you answer some of your questions, to suggest books you can read and people to whom you can talk - and to help you understand three things:

  1. Being gay, lesbian or bisexual is a normal and healthy way to be. It's one more part of who you are - like being tall or short, black or white, Asian or Native, left-handed or right-handed.
  2. It takes time to know who you are and it's okay to be confused, it's okay to be unsure whether you're gay or straight and it's okay to take your time figuring it out. There's no need to rush. The predominance of your attraction and heartfeltness is more towards the same or opposite gender.
  3. You're not alone. Right now, there are tens of thousands of other teenagers thinking or wondering if they're gay, that they're the only one, all trying to find someone to talk to about it. Hundreds of thousands more, however, have already traveled that road.

There are people with whom you can talk openly, compare notes, ask advice and who will take some time to listen and help you sort things out a bit.

This does not answer every question but we hope it give you a place to start. You don't have to be alone when exploring your sexual identity. The available resources will give you a place to continue - to find information, to find answers and to find friends.

You will learn that the best advice is to be yourself. If you are gay, lesbian or bisexual, you will soon find that you have the power to shape and define your coming out - to make it unique for yourself. While coming out will present you with questions and situations you never faced before, you will also find great joy in this journey of discovery.

Use the support of family around you. The tremendous value of this support is reflected in "Everything Possible". Keep these words in your heart for comfort and inspiration and good luck!

 
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[Before Coming Out to your Parents] [Be Yourself] [Our Daughters and Sons] [About Our Children]
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Last updated: 08/17/2002
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