HELLO IN THERE, YOU BEAUTIFUL SOUL!
If you’ve made it this far into our website, it is probably for a very good reason. The first thing you need to know is that YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO BE YOUR TRUE AUTHENTIC SELF. Gay, syraight, lesbian, bi-sexual, or that one where people do not love at all. Those who would tell you differently might not be educated enough to fully understand that the process of achieving authenticity is by no means something that people choose.
One of the first things to understand is that there is no predetermined timeline, no “Handbook” that can draw out a series of events over time for you. Every LGBTQ+ person experiences their journey differently. Some take almost a full lifetime before they can even put into words what is happening to them internally. Others have an inkling early on in life and when given a fully supportive family and friends network, flourish as their authenticity finds acceptance. Most tend to find their journey somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios.
What we can offer here are suggestions for how to prepare for and react to several of the scenarios you are likely to encounter over the course of your life. Our Advocacy Panel needs you to know that YOU ARE NEVER ALONE and that LOVE EXISTS!
AND SO IT BEGINS
For some it begins with an internal struggle. The signs of their inner dialogue not matching up with their external features can show itself at any point in time. There is no right or wrong time to recognize what could be a misalignment. Once you do start to question things, start keeping an internal journal, or even a written one. What are you feeling? How would your life be easier if you had the opportunity to express yourself freely? Is there a trusted friend or family member that you can actually talk to? If not, is your school guidance counselor someone you trust?
WHEN YOU FEEL IT IS TIME, WHAT TO TELL YOUR PARENTS:
Like most parts of the journey to authenticity, there is no guideline for how to tell your family your truth. Those before you have tried almost every version of sharing their truth. *Kudos to the person who jumped out of her birthday cake as Marilyn Monroe!
Questions to ask yourself as you prepare for what could be either a rewarding experience with a supportive family, or a tumultuous experience with family that might not have the information and resources needed to make this a painless time.
Does your family use appropriate or inappropriate terminology? ONE BIG INDICATOR of how accepting your family will be is in their use of words to describe other people, or situations. If a family member uses words like “gay” inappropriately, this is a pretty good signal of that person not having either the education or the maturity to handle your authentic acceptance comfortably.
Are you financially dependent on your family?
If so, consider all of the options of how your truth will be received.
How SAFE do you feel at home?
While everyone seeks the ability to live their life as their authentic self, we are all well aware that not every family is fully accepting. The statistics of how many LGBTQ+ youth are rejected by their family is startling. If YOU do not feel safe sharing your truth, there are agencies available to help you now, and in the future.
There is no right or wrong way to put your feelings and thoughts into words that your family will understand. Keep in mind, your parents probably never planned for what their lives will become. Educational references for parents are harder to find than one might think. Family structures vary from household to household. Tolerance is not quite as widespread as one might hope it would be. What might not be a heavy handed matter for one family might be a catalyst to another’s family dynamic.
Here are a few options for you when it comes to telling your family:
PUT IT IN WRITING
Some have found success in writing their family a letter. Letter writing allows us to assemble our thoughts and edit if needed. One helpful tip to writing an authenticity letter is to draft a list of your main points, then carefully word the letter so your parents become aware of what’s important to you. Be sure to use proper terminology in proper context. Many parents are hearing non-traditional terminology for the first time. It may take them a bit of time to fully understand the words you are using. Whenever possible, include the actual definitions when writing words that others might not be familiar with. Your letter can be mailed, e-mailed, or simply left on the stairs.
The advantageous part to letter writing is that it allows your thoughts to be presented without interruption. The topic of transitioning is very detailed, and involves many different aspects from name changes to pronoun usage. Trying to get all of your thoughts across in one conversation might be difficult – especially if there is resistance from your parents. A written letter allows your family to interpret the information at their own pace. Letter writing is a common feature used by all LGBTQ+ people. Even the “gays” have been known to “come out” via a Hallmark card or two!
Some trans people use PowerPoint as a way to collect their thoughts and share them with their family. One such success story comes to us from Gabi Jimenez, a 16 year old trans person who identified her authenticity to her family via power point. The Jimenez family is supportive of Gabi, and we wish them love on their journey. Their story can be found here:
SHARE REFERENCE MATERIALS
Publications are becoming more and more available to families of LGBTQ+ youth. One idea for sharing your truth with your family could be to bring home reference materials that could be of benefit to them. While YES, you could just leave the information on the kitchen table, it might be received a bit better if there was actual dialogue to go along with it. The reference materials will offer you points of validation should your parents give you the “this is just a phase” comment so often given to LGBTQ+ youth.
THE BUILD UP
Some decide that whatever their method of communicating their authenticity to their family is better served by dropping random clues (comments, jokes, etc). This is a great way to insure that your parents are at the very least familiar with some of the terminology
The next step might include reaching out to a medical professional (with or without parental support, you do have rights) For more information click here
Whatever you do, please make good and healthy, SAFE CHOICES. We wish you all the luck and love in the world as you find yourself in it.