At 15 or 55, and whether everyone knows, no one know, or just your Mammaw is clueless to your secrets, it isn't easy to set yourself free. The Q has advice for three versions of strength.
I’m 15, out and unhappy. My mom is cool with me being gay, but she’d rather talk about finishing school and getting a job. I can’t go to bars yet, and I don’t have money. I know only one other gay dude. Being “out” is like having a brand new car with nowhere to drive it.
I know, I know: It Gets Better. Well, life sucks now, so when exactly can I expect all the promises to come true? So I’m queer. Now what?
Dear Queer Youth:
Gay, straight, bi, queer, trans, kinky-curious, purple or otherwise, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees when you’re 15. The good news, and incidentally the bad news, is that what seems like forever right now is actually just a small, fleeting portion of your life.
Spend this time setting yourself up for a better future. Going to school and getting a job earn the fun and the funds. "It Gets Better" because you get better.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, actively practice being grateful for what you do. Tons of people would love to have a mom cool with them being gay, or to know even one other gay person, or to be able to come out and get on with life.
There’s one thing standing in the way of a future with my boyfriend: He says it’s me. I say it’s him.
He thinks that if I don’t break my devoutly religious grandmother’s heart by coming out to her, I can’t have true gay Pride, and I can’t have him. Come out to my Mammaw, or he’s breaking up with me.
I think he’s being unreasonable. What do you think?
Dear Ultimatums & Threats:
You say it’s him, and he says it’s you. I say you’re both right.
Assuming you are otherwise out and harbor no internalized homophobia, you have the right to come out when, and to whom, you choose. It doesn’t make you ashamed, just different. You should similarly accept that his being out to everyone is equally valid.
In a long-term relationship, you both have to live with the other’s accompanying consequences and rewards of spilling the beans or remaining silent. Maybe it’s your culture, inner mores, or other circumstances that make you each feel the way you do. Maybe you can live with each other’s situation and choices, maybe you can’t.
The big red flag here is his ultimatum. Holding conditional love over someone speaks more to relationship issues than who knows you’re gay.
I’ve never acted on being gay, but I’m considering coming out at 55. I worry that I waited too long, but I also worry that denying it would shortchange my true self.
Dear Better Late:
There are as many ways to come out as there are people who do it. If your “true self” is nagging you to come out, it’s worth exploring. Others who can relate and appreciate the sum of your life experiences are out there. Your next chapter is coming whether you come out or not, so think about how to make it great. It’s never too late.
The Q is for entertainment purposes and not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected]
Illustration by Brad Gibson
This article originally appeared in Q magazine. Pick up your hard copy around town, and read the full issue below: