DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m about to enter my sophomore year of high school, and I realize that I’m 100% a lesbian -- more specifically, a closeted lesbian. I’ve been on a few dates here and there with girls, and nothing has ever progressed further. For those situations, I just told my parents I was hanging out with my friends or grabbing dinner. Over the past few months, I’ve been talking with this girl, and we have decided that we want to give dating a try. I haven’t told my parents because I know they will say it's just a phase or insist I’m straight even though I am not. I’m terrified to tell them, but at the same time, I don’t want my girlfriend to have to lie and keep secrets -- I don’t think a healthy relationship can exist like that. What should I do? -- LGBTQIA+ Struggles
DEAR LGBTQIA+ STRUGGLES: You’ve got two things going on here. As a young woman, you are exploring and discovering how you want to live your life and who you want to love. That is a common activity for high-school-age people. This is the time for discovery. You are also grappling with what to tell your parents so that they will accept you, support you, welcome whatever partner you bring into your life and give you space to be yourself. Believe it or not, this is true for young people, whether or not they identify as queer.
As you consider coming out to your parents, think about their views on homosexuality. Do they generally have an inclusive mindset? Do they try to accept people for who they are, even if they don’t share their views? I agree that you should talk to them. Approach them from an assumption of inclusion. Tell them you have something important to share with them and you need their full attention and support. Tell them what you are discovering about yourself, and ask them to stand by you. It may be hard for them at first. Give them time.