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Dr. Jay Nagdimon

October 1996

Ask Dr. Jay

Q: I'm fifteen and 1/2 years old and I'm gay, and I'm still in the closet. I live with my mom who thinks all gays are child molesters who are going to hell. Nobody knows I'm gay and I want to keep it that way. I've never met another gay person, except online and I've got so many questions. My biggest problem is that I don't really want to be gay. I want to grow up, have a wife and kids etc. etc. I always thought being gay was weak and that if you tried hard enough you could be straight. The problem is that I've tried for years and years not to be gay but still I'm attracted to guys. For a while I denied it, but I can't any more. I'm totally trapped and I would be okay with that if that was the way everyone else was. I don't want to be the full outcast. I want a happy life with a normal family like everybody else. Well, I don't know what you can really do for me but I thought I would try writing. I just don't see how I can ever possibly be happy.

-- Desperate in Minnesota

A: I think the best thing I could say to you right now is not to stop hoping for happiness. For reasons I will explain, almost every gay person discovers their own happiness. In fact, many gay people will tell you that they rather be gay than straight. Sometimes being gay can be like other difficult things in life. Even though you have to struggle for a while, you may come to appreciate certain things about yourself you have learned along the way. For example, many gay people feel that they are have become better people since coming out; they have a greater capacity for appreciating the struggles of others and they have become more sensitive.

I'm not saying that it's wrong to want to have a wife, kids and a "normal" household. However, even if you were heterosexual you would be quite a few years away from that life. Right now you are regretting the future before you are even there. Give yourself some time. You are not the same person you were when you were ten and you will be different when you are twenty, twentyfive and thirty. While it's hard to imagine not wanting the stereotypical heterosexual life, it is hard for you to know what you are going to feel like after all those years. For example, you may fall in love with a wonderful boy and feel so good about that relationship that having that family seems less important. Some gay people decide that they are going to have family and kids regardless of what society says. While this may not seem appealing to you right now, you may feel differently when you are older, in a good relationship, and have some stability in your life.

The hardest part about coming out is the part you are in. You don't have the freedom to meet other gay people and explore what being gay can be like. You don't have the opportunity to ask others what they went through. You may be surprised to find that many gay people at one time felt as strongly about a wife and kids as you do now. In fact, most gay people weren't immediately thrilled with the prospect of being gay. They had to go through the same period of accepting themselves just as you are doing now.

During the process of coming out most people discover that they feel better about themselves than they did when they were denying their homosexuality. They also discover possibilities for their lives that they never knew existed. They fashion a life that makes them happy without compromising their values. What will help you is a few more gay people to talk to. Try calling one of the 800 numbers for gay teens (800-347-TEEN or 800-96-YOUTH) or try joining some of the chat groups Online. Don't give up. There's a rainbow after the storm.

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