Sign up for our free newsletter
I’m in my final year of high school, and I decided to come out as a lesbian—a very foolish move as I live in a small town that’s not exactly brimming with tolerant people. But I know there are other closeted people at my school, and I figured if none of us ever take the first step, it won’t ever get any better around here. But the response from my peers was worse than I expected. It’s nothing too terrible, no physical violence, and in the beginning I could cope. But it’s been a while now and I guess I need some advice. It just isn’t getting better, and I’m getting tired of it. I have to park two streets away so people don’t write shit on my car; someone’s hacked my user account and deleted important coursework; I’m either told I’m dressing like a dyke or trying to be a girl depending on what I choose to wear on any given day. I’m avoiding classes that I don’t have friends in because even if nothing is said (though it often is), the atmosphere is horrible. And none of this is that big a deal compared to what others have to go through, I know, but I’m sort of at the end of my tether.
Reporting it to staff is useless because they just tell me there isn’t any proof and do fuck all. I’ve got some teachers looking out for me, but they can’t really do anything, either. I have some supportive friends, thank God, but it’s all just becoming a bit too much, and I need some advice on how to cope through the last few months until I can get out of this shithole town. —Tired and Losing It
Here’s what you need to do, TALI: Look in the mirror every morning and tell yourself that is the nadir, the bottom, the worst it’s ever going to get. Once you get out of your high school and out of your shithole hometown and get your ass off to college—to a big state school or private secular university—you won’t be the only out queer anymore. Hell, you’ll be surrounded by out fags and dykes and bisexuals. I can’t promise you that you’ll never encounter a bigot again, of course, or that all the fags and dykes you meet over the course of your life will be good people. But you will never again feel as vulnerable or persecuted or alone as you do right now.
And while you’re talking to yourself in the mornings, TALI, tell yourself this, too: “Fuck my school, fuck my classmates, and fuck this town.” The shits conspiring to make you miserable, TALI, are unlikely to have lives anywhere near as interesting as the one on which you’re about to embark. Your classmates are making you miserable now because they know, deep down in their little black hearts, that their lives are going to be duller than day-old douche water compared to yours. Their lives aren’t going to be dull because they’re straight, TALI, but because the value they place on conformity—that’s the reason they feel they have a right to abuse you now—is a prison they’ve constructed around themselves.
Right now they’re making you feel like an outcast, TALI, and the malice stings. But what exactly are they casting you out of? Your high school? Their asshole cliques? That shit town? You haven’t been cast out, TALI; you’ve been liberated. Freed. Sprung. —Dan
I’m a 16-year-old gay boy. I grew up in an evangelical Christian home. Being the intelligent chap I am, I forgot to clear the history off the computer after looking at pornography one day last October. I got yelled at until I cried that night, and again the next morning, and every day for two weeks. I wasn’t allowed to use the computer for a year, and I was forced to attend church nightly. The electronics embargo has ended, so I can watch porn again at least, but I’ve been forced into the closet by my parents. They both ask me every night whether or not I have a girlfriend, whether or not there are any cute girls in my grade, stuff like that. My mom tears up every time I say that I don’t have a girlfriend. My dad sends me links to anti-gay articles that describe homosexuality as unnatural and an abomination. Once I made the mistake of sending an article back to him countering his points about homosexuality, and he stormed into my room and broke both my cell phone and MP3 player in half.
What the hell should I do about my parents? Will I ever be able to come out? Or will I have to lie to my parents and wait for them to die? —Christian Parents Angrily Chastise
Your parents—your vicious, clueless parents—are abusing their authority and their power, CPAC, which can make it tempting to fantasize about their deaths. Hell, I’m tempted to come over and kill them myself. But your only option right now, I’m sorry to say, is to lie to them. Tell your asshole parents what their asshole ears want to asshole hear: “It was just a phase, Mom and Dad, I was just curious, I’m totally straight, Jesus is the only dude I’ll ever get on my knees for, blah blah blah.” Get yourself a fag hag, delete gay Web-browsing histories, create and refrain from deleting straight Web-browsing histories, and bide your freakin’ time.
In two short years you’ll be an adult, CPAC, and you’ll be able to come out to your mom and dad—and, even better, you’ll be able to tell them to suck it. Demand an apology for the emotional and spiritual violence they inflicted on you, CPAC, and if one isn’t forthcoming, refuse to see your parents or have anything to do with them until they apologize. They’re currently using all the leverage they have as parents to make sure you’re miserable—aka closeted—for the rest of your life. Once you’re an adult, CPAC, you’ll have to use the only leverage you have—your presence in their lives—to make them into the loving, respectful, supportive parents you deserve, deserved all along, and that it’s not too late for them to become. —Dan
Four months ago, my mom walked in on me messing around with my boyfriend in our garage. I’m also a boy, age 15, and I hadn’t gotten around to coming out to my parents yet. I felt bad that my mom had to find out by seeing what she saw. I stayed in my room crying until my father came home. They called me down to the kitchen and told me they loved me and that they were very, very sorry if they had ever done or said anything that made me feel like I couldn’t be open with them about who I am.
My boyfriend is 17. He came out to his parents at Christmas, and our parents met for the first time last night. We don’t have a question. We just wanted to thank you and thank all the other gay people who came out back when it was much tougher to do so. Our parents wouldn’t have reacted the way they did if it weren’t for all you guys that already came out. —We’re Out Now
Thanks for the sweet note, WON. It’s too bad that all teenagers, gay and straight, don’t have parents as loving and supportive as yours. —Dan Savage
Send your Savage Love questions to email@example.com. A new Savage Love podcast is available for download every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage. Dan Savage’s most recent book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family , is on sale now.