I need help trying to deal with my story. I told my parents, family, and friends that I'm bisexual and ever since then some of my family constantly calls me names such as dyke, lesbian, etc. This happens when we get into arguments. Sometimes my dad tells me that being bisexual is the same thing as being bisexual. I tell him that I know when people see me with a girl that I'm going to be called names but i honestly shouldn't have to deal with the name calling with my family. I feel that no matter what I do this little thing will always make whatever I do that's good be SOOOOOO little and I feel entirely no hope. Can you please help me?
Signed,
Smartmami1, 14, CA
I want to start out by letting you know how brave you are, struggling to be honest about yourself with your parents and your family. It is really wonderful that you are so confident about your sexuality -- that is something that a lot of people struggle with well into their adult years. One of the hardest things about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) is the possibility that those we care about may not accept us for who we are. You may already know this, but it is important that you realize there is nothing wrong with you. Some people are straight, some people are bisexual, and some people are gay or lesbian. All of these different sexual orientations are perfectly normal. If your parents and your family cannot accept you for who you are, it is not a reflection on you - it is about their ignorance and their homophobia. It’s only natural to want approval and acceptance from our parents and our family, and it’s very sad that you have not had that experience. You are correct that you should not have to deal with name calling by your family. It is really unfair. It takes a lot of strength and courage to be able to accept yourself as who you are, and respect yourself when others around you don’t. You deserve to get good grades, choose friends who are loving and supportive, and do your best to have a responsible, productive life. While it’s very sad that you don’t get the acceptance and approval from your parents and your family that you deserve, there are plenty of other people who you will meet now, and in the future, who will accept you for who you are and treat you with kindness and respect.

At difficult times like these, it can sometimes be really helpful to talk to others about the things we are going through. Is there a trustworthy adult you can talk to about your concerns--a relative, teacher, counselor at school, or your doctor perhaps? Sometimes talking with others gives us good ideas about what to do. It can also help to talk about these issues with other LGBTQ youth such as at a school Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). You might check with a teacher or guidance counselor that you trust or check at www.gsanetwork.org to see if there is a GSA in your school where you can meet others whose feelings are similar to yours. Depending on where you live, there might be a local LGBTQ youth social or support group you can attend, or you might wish to call the GLBT National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-7743. If you can't think of anyone, please call the Trevor Helpline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386). Our trained counselors are here for you 24 hours, 7 days a week. They are sensitive to and familiar with the things you are going through. They can provide help and support and refer you to other local resources that might be available.

There are a number of great online resources that will give you an opportunity to connect with other LGBTQ youth in order to discuss your issues and get support in a place where others understand you. Youth Resource www.youthresource.com is a site where you can read stories from other youth about their experiences as well as find LGBTQ groups in your area. You could also join TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org, the Trevor Project's safe online social networking site for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24, their friends and allies. It's a social networking site kind of like Facebook or MySpace, but specifically for LGBTQ youth and their allies. There are lots of people on there socializing and sharing stories and you might meet some people who are going through the same kind of things you are.

There are several online bisexual resources you might want to explore. The American Institute of Bisexuality has a lot of good information at www.bisexual.org. You can download a brochure, Bisexuality 101 at www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user upload/BisexualityResourcePacket.pdf. Additional information can be found at the Bisexual Resource Center www.biresource.net. Other helpful brochures are: I think I Might Be Bi…What Do I Do? www.youthresource.com/living/bi/brochure.htm, and Be Yourself-Questions and Answers for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Be_Yourself_TT.pdf.

Many times, but sadly not always, parents and family will eventually become comfortable that a family member has feelings for someone of the same sex. There is a wonderful organization called PFLAG, which stands for: Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays. PFLAG (www.pflag.org) is an organization, made up mostly of parents, that works to support LGBTQ people, their families and others and helps family members and friends become more understanding and supportive of their loved ones’ sexual orientation. On their website at www.pflag.org click on “Get Support” then click on “For Family & Friends” where you’ll find the brochures entitled "Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People" and “Frequently Asked Questions about LGBT People.” If and when you feel your parents might be ready, you could share this with them to help them become more understanding and supportive of you. PFLAG also runs support groups where parents and others can discuss concerns and questions they’re having about a loved one's sexual orientation and where LGBTQ people can get support and discuss issues they’re having with people in their lives. PFLAG has a number of chapters around the country where parents can go to get information and support. You can go to their website, http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=803, to find out if they have a chapter near you in case your parents or other family members may show an interest in learning more. There is hope for the future in that many times parents and family can and do come around and learn to think differently.

Another potential resource for the future is the book “Now That You Know-A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children.” It addresses many issues and questions that arise for parents of LGBTQ children. There are no guarantees, but it may help your parents to be more understanding and more supportive at some point in the future.

Don’t forget, you can call the Trevor Helpline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386) and talk to our trained counselors for help and ideas as well.

You don’t have to go through this all by yourself; we are always here for you at Trevor.

I know that what you are going through is not easy, but remember to stay safe, get support, and to stay true to yourself. Your confidence will take you far.