Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 7:59 pm | Fair 69º

 
 
 
 
Teenagers

Louise Palanker: Coming Out as 13-Year-Old LGBTQ, Talking to Mom about Boys, Loneliness

Question from Natalie

Hello, I’m 13 and in eighth grade. I came out six months ago. I knew for certain a year ago and I had my first girl crush in fourth grade.

When I came out to my parents, I thought I could finally be myself. But no, they don’t want me to tell anyone. And they refer to my identity as “the situation” or “the secret.” I have told three people and I had to beg my parents each time.

I am a good kid. I get decent grades, I play the flute, I obey my rules. So I’m not gonna go behind their backs but I really want to tell my cousin, who I am really close to since she would be able to provide info on what high school would be like for me. And I know she would be accepting. But they even said no to that, too.

What do I do?

Weezy

You find yourself in the middle of a delicate struggle. On the surface one could say that your sexuality is your truth and your story. But scratch that surface and we quickly see that defying your parents’ wishes may bring on a world of hurt. Telling your cousin could easily make your life not less but more difficult.

Let’s look at it this way. You have suspected or even known since fourth grade that you like girls. Your parents have only known for six months. They are still in their adjustment curve.

Coming out is different for each person. I urge you to go to YouTube and watch some It Gets Better and It Got Better videos.

(It Gets Better Project video)

They will show you that, although you are in distress right now, it does and it will GET BETTER. The good news is that you told your parents and they know. That is huge. You are halfway home.

Not every LGBTQ child is able to tell his/her/their parents without their world crashing down around them. This next video shows you what can happen and what does happen to far too many kids when they come out to their parents.

It did not happen to you. Consider yourself blessed:

(Regina Ryan video)

Now you just need to help your parents get comfortable with your reality. It’s a process. When you were born they had dreams for their little girl. They are now learning that, although they gave their child a life, they do not get to live it. That is your job. Let them ease into this.

Their reluctance to allow you to share your story has to do with their own insecurities. Telling your cousin is telling the child of one of their siblings. That is very close to home for them. You may want to suggest to your parents that family therapy would be helpful.

At present your parents, plus three other people, are aware that you are gay. Very, very soon, this will become just another thing about you that people know and accept.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Julia

Weezy, my parents are not strict people. In fact, they’re actually pretty darn reasonable! I have a very close bond with my mother. We joke around and we also have serious discussions. I feel as if I could talk about anything with her ... except boys.

I truly think that my mom doesn’t REALLY want to know about my “dating life” as a teenager. I have never felt comfortable bringing it up and now I’m afraid I have to.  :/

I’m talking to a 16-year-old guy who I really am starting to like. (I’m 15.) I really want to hang out with him next week but I’m scared that my mom will think I’m at a “dangerous age” and start monitoring me like crazy?!

He and I were simply going see a movie, but I don’t want her to think I’m trying to take a huge step. I keep putting off hanging out with him because I don’t want to ask my parents. (I think he’s starting to get upset with me!) every single time he asks to hang out. I give a lame excuse of why I can’t.

I’ve realized that he knows the actual reason because he’s offered several times to meet my parents! I’m scared, but I guess I have to ask at some point. How do I do it?

Weezy

Right now is an excellent time for you to begin to practice stating your truth. To your mom ... to this boy ... to people in your life who matter. Life gets really dicey really quickly when you are avoiding honesty.

Maybe your mother has passively trained you to be evasive. Maybe she has given you the idea that your truth will be uncomfortable to her and may cause her to retreat. And so you hold back.

You are simply being a person and reacting to the energy you are receiving. This is not your fault but you now need to shift gears.

You are becoming close with this guy. How you learn to interact with him will inform all of your future relationships. He is guessing your issues. He’s being a great guy. He is making this easy.

Now tell him and share with him and allow him to comfort you and to be part of your solution. That it is what partners long to do. Let him do it.

Talk to your mom about boys. If she starts to change the subject say, “Mom, tell me about your first crush. I want to learn from you. I need advice. I like a boy.”

She may caution you. Listen. Nod. Know that her love for you is so powerful it can plummet her into the depths of panic. Reassure her. Tell her that you respect yourself and others but that you NEED for her to talk to you about boys. Her silence will not imagine boys away. Nor will it quiet your interest in them. It’s time for some honest conversation.

This video may offer more help and advice:

(Date Right video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Stephen

I live upstairs in my room most of the time. I only go downstairs for meals. I feel so lonely. My family members don’t call me to come and sit downstairs with them. When they have something to say or need my help, they just text me to do this for them.

They are very nice to me. But it feels like there are so many things I lack in my life. I don’t have a job or a girlfriend. But I also feel like I just want to be lonely and I don’t want to be involved in a relationship or a job because that would be scary.

I can’t get a job until I pass my exam, and the result will be next month. I don’t know what to do or how to do it. I masturbate often and sometimes take anti-Ds for anxiety.

I meet my friends every night for two to four hours but I still feel so lonely. I want someone to manage me — you know, like a teacher ... ask me to do this and I will do this happily.

Weezy, you have provided inspiration to many. Please suggest for me anything or provide me a schedule for a whole day. I don’t know what to do or how to do it. Help!

Weezy

I can’t provide you with a daily schedule. You will need to do that work yourself, but I can help you get started.

The good news is that I feel like you are motivated. You also seem to understand that with a more structured agenda you could be more productive and fulfilled.

So, here is what I will lay out for you. In the next week, I would like you to do the following:

» Type your interests, your area and the word volunteer into a search field. Make a call and tell the person who answers the phone that you would like to volunteer for at least 10 hours a week. Do this NOW. Do it before you get the results of your exams and before you start looking for employment. It’s time for you to feel purposeful TODAY.

» Smile more often. Say hello and compliment each of your family members every day. Ask every family member at least one question per day. Use a pleasant tone of voice. Listen to them. Ask a follow-up question. When you are interested in people, they will be more interested in you.

» Do something creative. Take photos. Draw. Write. Make a movie. Build. Bake. Create Something!

» Put together a daily schedule for yourself. Block out day parts for being creative, volunteering, reaching out to friends, etc. Work your schedule. Get busy. There is tremendous freedom within reasonable boundaries.

Do these four things this week. You will feel much better.

And if you believe that you may be suffering from a little bit of depression, go see a counselor or a therapist. Nothing you have described to me is permanent. You can and you will get yourself out of this rutty funk.

You are a little bit afraid of your adult life coming at you, but I promise you that you can handle this. On to your next adventure.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals Network, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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