At the age of 27, I announced my sexuality to family and friends: an agonizing decision, since my religious background (Mormon/Church of Latter Day Saints) does not agree with homosexuality.
Though I was in adulthood when I came out, my teenage years bore many instances where my homosexuality shone through. I chose to ignore these; I dismissed them (or, to use another word, suppressed them) as something that would eventually go away and eventually be gone forever.
My lesbian sexuality, however, never disappeared.
While my suppression seemed to work throughout my adolescence — I was no longer a lesbian! (supposedly) — it did not last into my adult years. I got married to a good man and we had a daughter. After my baby was born, the combination of years of denying my true self and hormonal changes affected me in such a way that I could no longer ignore my sexuality.
I went through a difficult period of time where I isolated myself from my family and friends, most of whom follow my same religion. After I announced my lesbianism to those I cared about most, I had an intense feeling of abandonment. It was not a good time for me to finally release my sexuality and finally accept it myself — I’m unsure that there is ever a good time.
While I was now free from the burden I’d been holding inside for so long, I had a new burden that wasn’t much easier: I now had a family of my own, and I was scared to lose my husband as a friend and my daughter as my own. Many battles between my spouse and family ensued.
I give you this background about my situation to offer some advice as an adult.
I will begin by saying, I doubt that coming out as a teen is much easier than it is to come out as an adult. It’s probably more difficult, in a sense, as you are finding yourself and discovering all that is within you.
Then again, for me, I believe if I had come out as a teenager, my family would have had an easier time with my announcement. Not that it was all roses — but it’s clear that coming out as an adult after having started a family caused more problems for me than, I feel, it would have if I would have done it when I was younger.
My point is: no matter when you decide to tell your friends and family of your sexuality, it can be difficult. But now, looking back as an adult, having suppressed my lesbian sexuality all throughout my adolescence, I need to tell you: suppression is not the best plan of action.
So here’s my advice: If you know your sexuality or gender identity, despite your religious beliefs or family values, be true to yourself and care enough for yourself to be open about who you are.
There is nothing wrong with being a part of the LGBT community. There is nothing more liberating than identifying and realizing that you are part of a great movement and society where you belong no matter how you feel or what your sexuality is.
Sure, it’s easy to justify not coming out: people won’t understand, my family won’t love me, I’ll be made fun of. It is easy to shy away from that part of yourself by hoping it will go away or hiding it from yourself.
So, if you're struggling with what to do about your sexuality, coming out and finding the real you, I suggest you make a plan.
· Decide when and how you’d like to let your family and friends – the people you care about.
· Don’t wait too long to share it with others.
· It’s okay to be selective with who you tell. Maybe you only want your parents, siblings, and best friend to know at first. Something to consider, though, is that the people you initially tell may share with others. While you can request that they not speak to anyone about it, be aware they may not honor that request.
· Be prepared for the worst possible reaction. If you’re unsure how people will react, expect that absolute worst scenario. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a measure to prepare and protect yourself.
· Consider counseling. If you don’t already have a therapist or counselor, it may wise to seek one out, preferably one with LBGT experience.
There is nothing wrong with expressing who you are and how you feel. Be true to yourself and love yourself always — there is simply nothing better.