Want to know about issues affecting queer and trans* youth? Below you’ll find a variety of topics from coming out to sexual health, as well as a list of queer and transgender youth friendly services from across the province.
For more information on any of these topics contact Gab Youth
Coming out is a process that happens again and again; it is not just a one-time deal and it doesn’t follow a set pattern or linear course. It occurs initially when one acknowledges to oneself (the most important and difficult aspect of coming out) and to others that one is gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, two-spirit or queer.
Coming out to oneself is one of the hardest steps in developing a positive identity and involves much soul searching, introspection, and a healthy sense of self-appreciation and acceptance. Coming out to others involves other risks, difficulties, and benefits depending on who that person is coming out to, how engaged they are with them, how much power they have in the relationship, and how accepting they are.
Why come out? It is a necessary part of developing a healthy and positive identity. It is more honest and real, and ends the stress of hiding or keeping a secret and living a double life. It allows for queer and trans* people to have a fuller life.
(adapted from Challenging Homophobia in Schools, by Gale BC)
Coming Out to Your family
If you’re thinking about coming out to your family here are some questions to think about:
Are you sure about your sexual orientation or gender identity?
If you are just starting to acknowledge your feelings, it is probably better to get some answers to your own questions before having to deal with the reactions of close friends and family.
Are you comfortable with your sexual orientation or gender identity?
If you are wrestling with feelings of guilt and periods of depression, you’ll be better off waiting. Coming out to family may require tremendous energy and strength.
Do you have support?
If your family’s reaction devastates you, there should be someone that you can turn to for emotional support.
What is the emotional climate at home?
If you have the choice about when to tell, consider the timing. Choose a time when your family is not dealing with other major emotional issues.
Can you be patient?
Give your family time to get used to the new information. Don’t be discouraged if it takes months or years to re-establish your relationships.
What is your motive for coming out now?
Hopefully, it is because you love them and are uncomfortable with the distance you feel. Never come out in anger or during an argument. If you come out in order to hurt someone, it will make it really hard for them to be supportive.
Are you financially dependent on your family?
If you suspect that your family will force you out of the house or cut off other types of financial support, you may want to wait until they don’t have this power over you.
What is your general relationship with your family?
If you’ve always had a good relationship and have always known their love and shared your love for them in return – chances are they’ll be able to deal with the issue in a positive way.
What is their moral societal view?
Think about how your family deals with other issues. If they tend to see social issues in clear terms of good/bad or holy/sinful, you may expect that they will have serious problems dealing with your sexuality. If, however, they are flexible about other changing societal matters, you may be able to anticipate a willingness to work this through with you.
Is this your decision?
Realizing that you might be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered does not mean that you must come out to your family. Don’t be pressured into coming out to family if you’re not sure you’ll be better off by doing so.
(adapted from Coming Out to Parents, by PFLAG)
Books for youth
Bass, K. and Kaufman K.; Free Your Mind; 1996. A practical guide for queer youth and allies, with comprehensive chapters on Family, Friend, Self-Discovery, School, Spirituality, and Community. There are stories from queer youth, info on famous queers, and great suggestions on coming out, relationships, health, etc.
Borhek, M. V.; Coming Out to Parents; 1993. Outstanding and enlightening, this book is a practical guide with concrete strategies to help queer youth and their parents understand the “coming out” experience.
Heron, A. (ed); Two Teenagers in Twenty; 1994. Over 40 queer American teenagers write about their lives, feelings, experiences, coming out, and some advice.
Books for Parents and Family members
Bernstein, R. A.; Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together; 2003. This book is written by a parent who discovered that his life was enriched by his lesbian daughter’s revelation of her identity. This book comforts many parents, who often struggle alone over their children’s disclosures, and it will be a call to action for them too, to love and accept their children, and to speak out on their behalf.
Clark, D.; Loving Someone Gay (3rd Edition); 1997. This updated book is a valuable resource for family members, friends and professionals.
Dew, R. F.; The Family Heart; 1994. This eloquent, powerful book tells the struggles of a family coming to terms with their son’s gayness, and their subsequent “coming Out” within their own community as parents of a gay child.
Fairchild, B & N. Hayward; Now That You Know – A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children; 1998. Written by two mothers of queer children, the book discusses the nature of homosexuality, and counsels parents about responding positively to queer children. Personal stories of children/families are interwoven throughout it.