“Coming Out” in High School

Reader’s Question:

I’ve been dating a girl for about four years. We started dating in eighth grade and I love her, but I am gay. I know this has been an unfair lie, but life is hard, especially when you are different. I have wanted to tell her the truth for some time because she is ready to be physical, more than the normal kissing and hand holding, and I just cannot do this with her. The problem is, I don’t want to hurt her and I don’t want her to tell anyone. My last year of high school would be hell if anyone found out, as I play lots of sports and people aren’t too inviting on letting a “fag” in the group. Everyone will be so disappointed with me and I’m sure hurt that I have betrayed them by lying for so long. What can I do to make this right for both of us?

First, I’m sorry that as a society, we have let you down.

I cried and felt sadness and guilt when I read your letter. Know that while I don’t know you, I am here for you and you are not alone, ever. There are so many people that will help you along your journey. The truth is, this is very hard, but you will be fine, eventually.

To start, the right thing to do is end your romantic relationship with this young lady. She has the right to find the love she deserves and she’s had that right taken from her for four years.

I know you are just a kid, but you had to know for a long time this is wrong. I understand that you are scared, and I get that you wanted comfort and support from someone you could trust, but it’s simply not fair to your girlfriend, at all. Let her go, now!

My stomach twists as I write this, because as an adult, I want you to man up and just tell her the truth. I also agree with your assumption of the negative outcomes you may experience if she tells people. You will most likely be treated unkindly by your current athletic “friends.” Kids can be evil. The daily news often reminds us kids are ending their life because the emotional and physical bullying leads them to prefer death over another day of misery.

I’m ashamed to advise you to withhold the absolute truth from your girlfriend, as it does not seem that you believe she is mature enough to trust with such a heavy situation.

I live in one of the “best towns in the country to raise kids,” and my own high school aged son has been subject to hate crimes at school for having a Jewish last name.

Prejudice/Bigotry/Racism is still very prevalent all over the country and it’s not getting any better, especially at schools.

Your girlfriend is very young and about to have her “heart broken.” The saying goes, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” and I have found the saying exists for a reason…especially with immature people. High school students can nearly always be classified as immature.

I guess what I am saying is, don’t tell her, right now. Perhaps when she is healed and things are a little more comfortable down the road. You will have to feel that out for yourself.

Most gay men “come out” to those around them at about age 21. Do not wait that long to begin living the life you desire and deserve, but perhaps finish high school first.

It sounds as if your parents don’t know either, and at this point, I am now doubtful you have told anyone at all. You might want to consider talking to one or both of your parents, as it’s vital to have some support at home. If your parents don’t already know of your sexual orientation, it may take a moment for them to adjust, but they will come around.

Please, know that it is incredibly hard for me to tell you to keep a secret that should not have to be kept. I want to free you to open up and tell your friends and girlfriend the truth…be a pioneer…make it easier for the next kid…but, breaking down barriers is not “in the cards” for everyone. If you want to live your life in peace, I understand.

Consider the Alternative:

If you do nothing and continue to hang with the same “friends” and be with a girl…will you regret your decision in the future? Down the road, when you are openly gay, will you regret not standing up for yourself? Will you regret not giving your friends a chance to accept you? These are mature contemplations, and you may not be ready to analyze your life and its meaning at a young age, but try.

Remember, every ending starts a new beginning!

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