Welcome. I appreciate you checking in. You’re in the midst of one of the bigger moments in life and I don’t want you to feel alone. You’re safe here. You can be whatever you want, including being confused about what you want. I just want to give you a better sense of the context you’re in so you can use that awareness to help you make decisions about your life.
First off, you started off unsure if you were gay or not. That was hard enough in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when gay people were just starting to be public, but at least then you were only choosing between straight and gay. Today you’re in the new millennium and you’re dealing with the erasure of all the lines, so now it’s harder to tell if you’re gay or maybe bi or is that a trans feeling…?
The truth is, it doesn’t really matter which one you are, they’re all okay. In reality we’re on a spectrum, we’re not all divided up into neatly named pie slices, so the words don’t matter. But if you’re anything other than straight, you’ll still have to figure out how to manage people that feel threatened by you.
By threatened, all I mean is that they were taught that the world is divided into pie slices and they believe that sexuality is just one big pie. There are no other slices as far as they’re concerned. And yet there you are, proving you exist. That’s pretty challenging for someone who has no storage place for you in their brain. It’s literally just as hard for them to imagine homosexuality as it is for you to imagine heterosexuality, (or possibly monosexuality).
Your family might respond lovingly and supportively. But if they don’t that doesn’t mean they don’t approve. Parents love their kids, so if the parent knows some other parents who won’t approve of their kid, then that scares them. They don’t want you to get hurt. And yes, they’ll worry about what people think of them just like you worry about what people will think of you.
They’re right to be afraid. Some people can be very ugly when they’re scared. If your parents or relatives were taught to be very religious, depending on how the religion manifests, you might find them the most frightened. They’ll not only be worried about you being physically attacked, they’ll worry for your soul in eternity. It’s a generous and kind motivation–to save your soul–it’s just misguided by some beliefs that many people don’t share. Focus on their intentions, not their reactions and it’ll be easier to see their true motivations.
Keep in mind, any time we’re in any kind of minority it can inadvertently lead to us believe that maybe we’re wrong. In a way it’s nice that we trust our fellow citizens so much, and yet generational changes mean that we can easily get confused about what’s acceptable to those around us. Trust yourself. If you only want to be yourself and you have zero desire to victimize anyone else, then you’re very likely on the right track.
Remember, these times are some of the most emotionally tumultuous that you will ever experience in your lifetime. These are likely your first huge emotions, so this will have some really roller-coaster parts to it. But don’t think when it’s intense and scary that it’s wrong. Life’s like that sometimes, especially during the big stuff.
Just like everyone else before you, you too will get your sexuality sorted out in good time. We all just naturally feel a little wobblier when we’re entering new territory, so it’s important to have faith in your very best guild: your self.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.