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Dr. Jay Nagdimon

November 1996

Ask Dr. Jay

Q: Dear Dr. Jay,

My name is Charlie and I'm 15. I finally accepted that I am gay after two years of not accepting it. Now I am proud to be gay thanks to OASIS and people that I've talked to on-line. I think being gay is great and I wish everyone could just accept me like I am. The other kids at school call me fag and make a lot of gay jokes. I feel bad everytime I don't say something but I'm too scared. I don't want to get into fights all the time. I'm a peaceful person. What should I do? I feel like I should be proud and stand up for gay people everywhere but I don't want to ruin my life.

Charlie

A: Dear Charlie,

Congratulations on accepting yourself as gay. That is hard enough to do! You are finding yourself in a position that is common to many gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. Right now you feel in conflict between your own feelings of pride and how you feel you should respond to anti-gay harassment. There's a difference between being proud, standing up for yourself and being an activist. Being proud means that you have not only accepted yourself as gay, but you consider yourself in a favorable light because of it. Pride refers to feeling more self-worth and feeling good about your accomplishments. Being able to accept yourself as gay is an accomplishment in our society. During the last two years you have been challenging the negative opinions about gay people that come from society. Although society is slowly changing, it's true that most Americans still don't believe gay people should have the same rights and the same respect as other people. Charlie, you have moved from disliking yourself for being gay to liking yourself. That's a hard road to travel on. I wonder if the people who are harassing you would have the same courage if they were in your position.

While being proud means that you feel good about yourself, it doesn't necessarily mean fighting for your rights on every occasion. I usually find that trying to argue with people whose main intent is to make you feel bad gets you nowhere. Ignoring them is always an option. Harassment shouldn't be a part of school. If the harassment gets too bad, you should make your teachers aware of the situation.

Being an activist has to do with attempting to change the way people think about homosexuality. The goal of the activist is to make society a better place for everyone. As a person goes through his or her life, there may be times when being an activist is what he or she wants to do. A person can be proud of themselves without being an activist at every stage of life. For some, it may not be practical (or safe) to try to make society better. There may be times ahead for you for activism. In the mean time, I suggest rewarding yourself for accepting being gay. You can start by giving yourself permission not to be an activist at every turn. Then you can go on to make some gay friends, accepting straight friends, rent gay-themed movies and maybe buy some gay books and magazines. You may find that there are many ways to express your pride.

Good luck,

Jay


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