Conventional Wisdom is a different kind of advice column. Your questions will be answered by people from all walks of life rather than by advice experts. This week, an out and proud gay woman helps a 16-year-old girl figure out how to come out.
Today's question: "I'm a 16-year-old girl who's currently in a relationship with a boy. I'm taking college classes along with my high school ones, and I have poetry that's published. People tell me everyday that I'm gorgeous and absolutely amazing. My downfall? If they knew I was bisexual, I would be alone. I've come out to three of my gay friends, but that's it. I was voted most optimistic for favorites, but people don't know how really miserable I am. I'm in love with a girl, and I want to give myself to her completely. To kiss her, to hold her. But I don't want to be hidden, and I don't want to lose everything I have. HELP ME, I'M BEGGING. Signed, Tormented."
To hear what a gay woman has to say,
I know what you are going through is hard and scary. When I was growing up I felt very confused about the intense feelings I had for other girls, and I couldn't even admit to myself that I was bi or gay, let alone anyone else. So first and foremost I just want to say that you are very strong and brave to admit these feelings to yourself and reach out. Please don't take your fear as a sign that you can't handle this — if you couldn't handle it I think you would have buried it way down and not even bring it up as a possibility. There are a few different things about your worries that I want to address:
First, before you decide how to handle your feelings about this other girl, you have to figure out your feelings for your boyfriend. Do you really want to be with him? Or are you just being with him because it is safe and simple? It is too hard to figure out how you are feeling about your sexuality and the girl you say you are in love with if it is all wrapped up with shame and secrecy about possibly cheating on the person you are dating. If you know deep down that it is someone else and not him you want to be with, then break up with him. You don't have to tell him all the details of why you are ending it — just that it isn't working for you right now. Then you can have some space and time to think through the issue of your bisexuality without the anxiety of betrayal.
Secondly, I am not sure exactly what kind of community and family you are living in, so it is hard for me to address how real your concerns are that you will lose "everything." It sounds like you have some gay friends, which means people are out in your community and you have some support, so I think you should consider that maybe after the initial shock this wouldn't be as devastating as you think. Definitely it is still not the total norm, but living in fear that you won't be accepted is making you miserable, so I am not sure that finding out that certain people will be fine with it and others won't be could be that much worse. But I think you need to talk to some people you trust to help you figure out how to best handle your specific situation. If there is a gay and lesbian community center in your town you could get some confidential advice from someone. There are also some good websites: Sex Etc. (a website about sex run by and for teens) and this Planned Parenthood teen talk blog.
The most important thing is to know that you are absolutely not alone with this, that a lot of people go through this, that you will be OK, and that there is a lot of support for you out there.
A Gay Woman