A gay teenager wrote to the Detroit Free Press column “Ask Amy” for advice about coming out to her family in time for prom, and the heartbreaking question and response makes us feel for all the teens out there who still struggle with coming out.
“Lost in California” is a 17-year-old lesbian who has a family who tells a lot of gay jokes and is generally unsupportive of LGBT people. She wants nothing more than to come out in time to take her girlfriend to prom, but is unsure of how her family will react:
I have a girlfriend. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. We have been together almost a whole year. Prom is coming up, and I’m getting sick of hiding the fact that I’m gay and have a girlfriend, but I’m honestly scared.
I don’t know what the reaction will be or how to be prepared for it, or how I will cope if the reaction is bad. Sometimes it makes life really hard, especially lately with my parents going through a divorce. The idea of revealing this about myself at this time seems wrong.
Columnist Amy Dickinson’s advice is pragmatic and direct, but still makes us a bit sad that this is what the choices look like for gay teens:
If you have other family members who are gay — and if you trust them to be honest and compassionate toward you, they are in the best position to offer you specific advice about what you should do in the short term. It is not always safe for gay teens to come out to their parents. Sometimes parents punish or kick their children out of the house. If your parents are stressed by their own marital troubles, they might react badly to your news.
In the short term, I hope you will plan on attending your prom with your girlfriend, but you might not be able to do so in front of your parents. I’m very sorry to recommend that you stay at least partially in the closet, but that might be best for you right now.
We can’t argue with that. Multiple studies confirm that LGBT youth are a high-risk group for homelessness, and many of them have been kicked out of their homes by unsupportive families. Coming out as a gay teen who still relies on their family for stability and financial support is always a risky decision.
Still, Amy wraps up her advice with a much needed dose of hope:
It is very important for you to know that you are not alone. Countless other teens have successfully walked this path, and they — and I — stand with you now.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.