Hi there Aunty Jimothy,
I’m Jayden, 13 and bisexual from Minneapolis. I love music, I love to sing, I like school. I’m kinda scared to tell my parents because I’m afraid they won’t understand. My mom might, but dad won’t because dads are like that. So maybe you can help me.
Jayden from Minneapolis
Child, you’ve got Aunty Jimothy clutching her pearls! Ain’t a damn thing wrong with music and singing. You march straight up to your parents and tell ’em that for me. Hear? Sing it to ’em!
Oh, wait… Did you mean you’re scared to tell them about being bisexual? Hmmmm….
I see what you mean. That might be a problem. Or it might not be! Sometimes, sweetie, it’s tough being an old gay aunty writing an advice column, because it’s hard to know the right thing to say. I can’t tell you what to do, or know all the right answers, and I worry about putting you at risk by saying the wrong thing.
But I can share — because Aunty Jimothy has been there and done that! Boy howdy.
When I was a little younger than you, and just figuring out I wasn’t straight, I lived in the same city where you live now — the real one, not the fake one I picked to protect your identity. No way could I tell my parents I wasn’t straight. They would have freaked the frick out and made my life hell. So, I kept it my shameful little secret, and it ate at me.
It’s always bad for us to have secrets.
It always hurts us inside not to be able to share who we really are with the people we love the most. And you know what else? If we feel we have to keep secrets, then we often feel like we ARE bad inside — like having to keep a secret proves we’re bad.
The technical term for that is “internalizing homophobia.” It’s like, even if you know for sure that getting crushes on both guys and girls is totally cool and good (cuz it is, child!), having to hide that from people makes you FEEL like it isn’t good. And pretty soon, you’ve got a habit of thinking badly about yourself all carved into your brain circuits.
But it sounds like this old aunty doesn’t need to tell you that. You asked the question because you WANT to tell your parents. You know it’s important. So now what? I hear you saying. Stop gabbing and get to the advice part, already!
OK, bub. Hold your horses. (Deep breath, Jimothy!) Here we go —
First, you have to make some very smart and grown-up decisions. You have to weigh the consequences of coming out. It’s not fair to ask a 13-year-old to do something so important, but you got this. You’re plenty old enough to figure out your own risks and to be tough and smart.
What are some of the things you can do to prepare? Well, you say your mom is likely to understand? OK, start with her. Maybe bring up the subject of gay or bi people and see how she reacts. You could talk about a famous gay person or even about some made-up kid in your school who came out as bi.
See what she says —
Sometimes parents are super uncomfortable talking to kids about stuff like this, maybe more uncomfortable than the kids! But if your mom is going to be cool, she’ll probably find a way to let you know— after you bring the subject up safely and in a way that doesn’t out you.
If she talks about how she doesn’t have a problem with bi people or gay people, then you can think about telling her. If she acts all offended and mad, best keep it to yourself, as unfair as that is.
As for dads?
Wow, this is a tough one, because now we’re dealing with a big ole bee’s nest of ideas about masculinity and manhood and fatherhood and all that. It’s hard! The culture we live in programs us to be really super bothered about gender roles and about sexuality. For a guy to like a guy is kind of … not really masculine, right?
Not right, but you knew I was gonna say that, I bet.
Anyway, all I mean is that your dad may not be as tough a nut to crack as you think. He may worry about stuff like this as much as you do, believe it or not. He probably loves you more fiercely than you’re able to appreciate right now, and wants the best for you, whatever that best is.
But safety first!
Maybe you can test your mom a little and come out to her if she seems cool. Then she can help you figure out what to do with your dad. You’ll need to practice what to tell them and how to have the conversation. Go over it in your head and sort of learn the lines so when the time comes, it’s easier to go on autopilot.
As you practice, imagine how good you’ll feel after it’s over. Find that feeling inside yourself and let it make you happy. Hold onto it tight until you build up the courage to do have that talk.
Of course, some kids prefer to come out by email or instant message, and that’s fine too! Whatever works for you. It’s your coming out, so you get to make the rules.
Find some support —
Listen, whether you decide to come out to your parents or not, you shouldn’t have to figure all this stuff out on your own. You need trusted adults to talk to and friends your own age you can count on. I don’t know anything about your school or the resources there, but I DO know about a fabulous LGBTQ organization that helps teens like you.
They’re called GLSEN, and they set up LGBTQ clubs in schools sometimes called GSAs, or gay/straight alliances. Your school may already have one! Whether they do or not, you can find out a lot more by clicking on the link and exploring their page. They have a crisis hotline you can call, by the way, if you ever need help really bad.
Want to make a lasting difference in your school? GLSEN is proud to support student organizers in schools across the…
Another place you can turn to if the going gets tough is The Trevor Project. They’re awesome people who run a hotline and have other resources for helping LGBTQ kids in crisis.
Not that this old aunty is saying you’re gonna have a crisis! Not at all. I just think it’s smart to be prepared. Know who to reach out to if you ever need help.
I think you’re gonna be just fine!
You’ve got some stuff to work on. Here’s the scoop:
- Figure out if coming out would be safe for you.
- Test your parents’ reactions by talking about LGBTQ people
- If you think it’s cool, practice coming out with yourself
- Find support from trusted adults and kids your age
- Keep support-group phone numbers and contact info handy in case of crisis
I think that about covers it, kiddo. Good luck, be smart, be safe, and be the fiercest most fabulous YOU that you can be. Being bisexual is awesome! It totally rocks. Believe that and don’t ever let anybody convince you it’s not.
Got it? Good! Don’t make Aunty clutch her pears. The world ain’t ready for that, child!
That’s another Aunty Jimothy column on Medium, guys and girls. Got a question? Post it under this story or email firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll do her best to crank out some pearlescent balls of wisdom.
By the way, I’ve got a whole bat cave full of lesbians, trans guys and girls, and kinky polyamorous bisexual chicks. So when you ask Aunty Jimothy, you’re tapping into a lot more than just Dame Edna’s cranky nemesis.
Ask anything! Love, sex, dating, hooking up, Tinder and Grindr culture, and HIV/STD concerns. Life with your straight family. Coming out. Or not.
This Old Aunty has the Answers. Somewhere. If I can just remember where I left my purse.