GLBT National Help Center Blog

Helping the LGBT Community

Archive for the ‘Coming Out’ Category

Labels?

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Gay. Lesbian. Bi. Transgender. Curious. Grrrrl. Twink. Queer. Bear. Chub. Questioning. DL. Bear. Pansy. Boi. Metrosexual.

What is your label? Is that the REAL question? Or is the real question: “Do I need a label?” We get lots of callers who ask the question: “Am I gay? Am I straight? Am I bi?”  Image

Many of our callers feel a sense of urgency to slap a label on what “they are” and proceed with life. However, the use of labels can be confusing. Self-identification can be tough to face.

Coming out and identifying with a label can be even more challenging. With so much “grey area” running between each label, it can be hard to identify just what we are feeling.

At the GLBT National Help Center, we are here to help you to chat with you and help you find the answers to your questions. We help people all over the U.S. talk about the important issues they are facing in their lives.

Call us.  Let’s talk.

Written by glbtnhc

May 29, 2013 at 9:15 am

Posted in Coming Out, Definitions

Tagged with , , , ,

A Phone Call Away

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For one caller to the GLBT National Help Center, coming out to his parents started with a phone call that went like this:

Son: “I have something I want to talk to you both about.  But I’m really not sure how to put it.”

Mom: (short silence) “Then why don’t you just PUT IT.”

Son: (another short silence) “I’m gay.”

Dad: (sigh)

Mom: (gasp) “I knew you were going to say that.”

Dad: “Are you just feeling like you are gay? Or are you living the gay lifestyle.  Because if you are that is what is wrong.”

Son: “Yes Dad. I’m living the gay lifestyle.  If that is what you want to call it.”

The caller said that he was living on his own and had a stable career when he made this call. The call ended by the parents telling him that they still loved him and they would work through this together.  

That evening he called the GLBT National Help Center to talk to a peer councilor about the call and was equally upset and relieved.

By the end of the his call with us, he had not only talked through some of his frustrations, but he also had a list of local services in his town that may be of help to a gay man living alone. 

While coming out and “being gay” is becoming more acceptable for some, it is still a very painful and traumatic process for many. 

 The GLBT National Help Center is here for that reason.  We offer not only peer counseling and facts about safe sex, but we also offer referrals through our massive database of GLBT related services. 

Toll-free 1-888-THE-GLNH (1-888-843-4564)

HOURS:
Monday thru Friday from 1pm to 9pm, pacific time
(Monday thru Friday from 4pm to midnight, eastern time)

Saturday from 9am to 2pm, pacific time
(Saturday from noon to 5pm, eastern time)

Written by glbtnhc

May 29, 2013 at 6:40 am

“When did you know?”

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A common question that gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered people are asked is “When did you know?”  It’s a tricky question in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity.  People who have not struggled with these issues sometimes operate under the assumption that a switch was flipped and all became clear, but that is often not the case.

Discovering one’s own sexual orientation or gender identity can be a short or long process, depending on many things like environment, self-awareness, and exposure to different ideas.  But one thing is for sure: Once people discover they are queer, it is significantly easier to come out if they are in a loving and supportive environment.

Please read this touching essay written by a mom of a six-year-old about how she is creating an environment where it is okay for her son to be whoever he is.

Want to talk about this or other issues?  Give us a call, start a chat or send us an email.

Written by glbtnhc

January 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Coming Out, Parent

Spur-of-the-Moment Sex

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It is not unusual for people to reach out to us with anxiety of having contracted an STD because they had unprotected sex with a stranger of the same sex.  Unprotected sex is a dangerous activity.  Callers are frequently aware of the risks and are often mortified at their own behavior, as well as being sick with fear of the potential consequences.

A common link for the people who make these calls is that they are attempting to hide their sexual orientation from others (and often themselves).  This denial then leads to risky behavior, regret, and further denial.

One of our primary goals at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center is to help people identify their own sexual orientations.  We believe that when a person is honest with herself, she is more likely to make informed and healthy decisions. That is one aspect of diminishing risky behavior.  The second is support from one’s friends and family,* which of course an individual who is coming out does not have control over.  However, this further suggests to all of us that acceptance of differing sexual orientations leads to happier and healthier individuals.

Did you recently have a risky same-sex encounter that you want to talk about?  Give us a call, send us an email or start an online chat with a volunteer peer-counselor.

*From a study by Vincke, Bolton, Mak, and Blank at the University Hospital in Belgium, 1993:
Individuals who recognize and freely admit that they are either homosexual or bisexual may be rejected by their peers, families, and others. Adequate social support, however, has been shown to lead to a heightened sense of well-being and health. It has also been shown to encourage individuals to adopt and maintain healthier lifestyles. There are important correlations between social support and self-esteem, control/mastery, and stress management. The withdrawal of social support following the coming out of gay people can have serious detrimental effects on their social and emotional well-being.

Written by glbtnhc

December 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm

What it looks like…

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This Australian commercial perfectly captures the acceptance that we at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center strive to achieve for everyone in the queer community.

Written by glbtnhc

December 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Romantic Relationship Problems

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While the majority of our calls, chats and emails deal with coming-out and the related feelings that arise from this process, we also receive a large number of contacts from people who want to talk about problems they are having in romantic relationships.  These callers often are not out to their friends and families or have been rejected by their families for being gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered, and so they can feel extremely isolated.

These callers want to talk about issues that can arise in any romantic relationship: In-laws, household chores, miscommunications, etc.  But because of the pronouns (he/she/his/her), they are unable to share these otherwise run-of-the-mill discussions with anyone in their lives.  It is a true reflection of how alone individual members of the queer community can feel when they cannot share with others such a fundamental aspect of themselves like sexual orientation or gender identity.  It results in not being able to discuss one’s partner, spouse, date or boyfriend/girlfriend.

Do you need to talk about a problem you’re having with a significant other or romantic interest?  Please get in touch with us.  Our volunteer peer-counselors can help.

Written by glbtnhc

November 21, 2011 at 7:59 am

Android’s New “Is my son gay?” App

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Android recently released an app called, “Is my son gay?”   It features twenty questions for a mother to answer about her son, focusing on the son’s reading habits, musical tastes, clothing choices, etc.

This app is absurd.  Its intention might be humor, but even that falls flat.  The only thing that determines whether anyone is gay is whether or not that person is primarily physically and/or romantically attracted to people of the same gender.  Masculinity or femininty have nothing to do with it, nor does one’s interest in Lady Gaga’s music (which is appreciated by ALL sexual orientations).

We do understand that some parents feel that they need answers about their children’s sexual orientation, but these are answers only your children can provide, and they need to do that on their own timelines.  The discovery of one’s sexual orientation is not based on one encounter, but has to be considered over time with the evaluation of feelings for people of the opposite gender versus people of the same gender.

So sadly, when it comes to tacky technology, there’s an app for that!

Written by glbtnhc

October 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Coming Out, Media, Parent

It’s Never Too Late

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We have heard from men and women of all ages who are discovering their sexual orientation.  And regardless of whether the caller is 17 or 77, he/she will say something like: “I feel silly figuring this out at this age.  I should have realized sooner.”  While the media may make it seem like everyone is coming out at 12, the reality is that people come out at all different times in their life.

While it can seem obvious once a person has discovered his/her sexuality, the road there is not always easy.  Often there is not a supportive environment for someone to even explore feelings that might not be consistent with society’s “norm,” and sometimes the environment can be downright hostile and makes those feelings almost impossible to think about due to a real concern for self-preservation.

No matter what the age of discovery, it is the right time for that person.  And when that time comes, give us a call, send us an email or chat with us online.  We’re here for you.

Written by glbtnhc

October 3, 2011 at 8:49 am

Posted in Coming Out

“Why Won’t My Child Come Out to Me?”

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We previously discussed things to consider when coming out to one’s parents, but what if you’re the parent and you think your child is gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered and want your child to come out to you?  We receive calls from some parents who believe or even know that their children are gay, yet have not heard it first-hand from their kids.  They sometimes experience feelings of hurt that their children might not trust them.

If this describes you, first of all congratulations for being receptive to the possibility of your child being something other than straight.  We applaud that you want your child to feel free to be open about who he/she is.

It might be frustrating that your child hasn’t come out to you (if, indeed, he/she is GLBT), but please be patient.  While your son or daughter’s GLBT status might be clear to you, keep in mind that it might not yet be clear to your son or daughter.  Coming out is a very personal process, and your child may not be ready to face all of the feelings that come with it.

Here are some things you can do or say to ease the process for your child:

  • Discuss current events that affect GLBT people.  Give your positive opinion readily, and ask what your child thinks.
  • Have conversations about any GLBT people you may personally know.  Talk about their experiences with your child.
  • Let your child know that your love is unconditional.  You might even go through various scenarios of what your child could do or be and let him/her know that it wouldn’t change your feelings.
  • If you feel your child is struggling and it’s a financial and/or scheduling possibility, arrange for counseling for your child.  It’s less important that your child talk to you than that they talks to someone who lets your child know that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is normal and okay.  We can help you find a gay-affirming therapist in your area.

It really all boils down to patience, love and understanding, something that parents tend to have in spades.  And if you want to talk, we’re here.

Written by glbtnhc

September 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Coming Out, Parent

Things to Consider When You Want to Tell Your Parents You’re Queer

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If you are living with your parents and/or are dependent upon their financial support, here are some things to consider if you are thinking about telling your parent(s)/guardian(s) that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered.  But before going further, step back, take a deep breath, and congratulate yourself on wanting to do this.  We know it’s not always easy, and we hope you give yourself the credit you deserve for thinking about such an important decision.

  • Is there a potential for danger or abuse to you, physically or emotionally?  Your safety is the most important concern.
  • Are you in danger of being kicked out of your home?  If yes, do you have an alternative place to stay?  Have you asked how long you could stay with them?  Is it a short term offer, or could you stay there for many months or even years?
  • Have your parents made any comments about GLBT people that could give you an indication of how they will react?
  • Go through the various ways you think they will react.  How will you feel about the potential reactions?  If you think they’ll react badly, do you think that the initial reaction will be lasting, or will things calm down?  How will you be able to deal with that reaction?
  • Is now a good time?  Are there other factors at play that will affect reactions?
  • For those with more than one parent/guardian, do you want to tell them together?  Apart?  Who should you tell first?
  • How do you want to start the conversation?  Do you want to preface the news by telling them you’re nervous of what they’ll think, or dive right in?  Or do you want to write it down in a letter, and let them read it while you sit with them?
  • Often, family members take their cue from you.  If you start off by telling them, “I’ve got some news I know you’ll be upset about…” you might get a different reaction than if you started the conversation by saying, “I love you very much and want to share something about my life with you that I feel good about  …”

This is not intended to dissuade anyone from coming out, but merely to make sure that all things have been considered in this decision.  We find that most GLBT people have a pretty good idea of how their parents will react, but it’s good to think through one’s approach.

Coming out to one’s family can be a big moment, and even if parents have a negative reaction that is not extreme (i.e. abuse or kicking the GLBT person out), many newly-out people find that there is a sense of relief that comes with not having to hide such a large aspect of themselves.

If you do decide to speak with them, give us a call afterwards.  We’re here to offer you support.

Written by glbtnhc

September 12, 2011 at 8:54 am

Posted in Coming Out