By Katharine Luckinbill
I am a woman in my early 30s who has very recently been reconciling with the fact that I am gay. Only a couple very close friends of mine know the struggles I have gone through to get to the place I am at today. While I am so grateful for their support, I also still feel very isolated and alone sometimes. I am not yet ready for the ‘world’ (or my family) to know — but I do feel like I would like to reach out to more people/friends, and try to find others like myself. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life. I guess I just can’t help feeling like I don’t know what on earth I’m supposed to do now? What’s my next step?
Waiting and Wondering
Dear Waiting and Wondering,
Wow. This is one of the bravest and most heartwarming questions that I have received. Firstly, thank you for thinking that I was a worthy enough columnist to answer it. Secondly, even though I don’t know you, I feel proud of you — very, very proud.
Okay – now that I’m done kvelling, let’s talk.
I certainly do not envy someone coming out during what has become an extremely opinionated climate regarding gay rights – however, of all the years in our history to come out, 2012 might be the most accepting.
Also, the fact that you are now coming into a fuller and better understanding of who you truly are, well, only good can come from that.
Here’s the bright side of your situation: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Not even a little bit alone, though I do understand your frustration and feelings of isolation. The newest studies suggest that over 4% of Americans today identify as lesbian or gay – that’s 1 in 25, and that’s just in America. Now, feeling lonely is probably due to a lack of immersion in the community – and maybe you feel going to gay bars or clubs isn’t the gentle introduction you need. So, try hitting up some websites like HRC.org, and click on the “local” tab to find events in your city and state, or head to EmptyClosets.com, a great online community and resource for gay and lesbian individuals who need help coming out.
It is completely understandable that coming out to your family might seem like the hardest and most anxiety-ridden thing you will ever do – so you should definitely take your time with that. However, on the other side of the coin, I would bet a fair amount of money that your parents have some idea already. Parents are surprisingly intuitive about these things, and if you have a good and healthy relationship with them now – it may be easier than you think. Check out this article for some more detailed advice.
Your next step is yours to choose. The biggest step, which you have already taken, is realizing who you are in your truest, most honest place. There is only growth and self-acceptance in your future.
So take some time to find local resources in your city or town, discover support groups in your area and network with people who are paddling through the same waters. Once you have come to a more solid place of understanding your new position in the world, you can begin to step out into the big, scary dating scene. (And that’s scary whether you’re gay or straight!) By then, the how and when of coming out to your family might fall into place on its own.
And if you just want someone to email because you’re feeling alone, I’m always here at email@example.com with a friendly ear.
Gay is way okay!
Dear Kate is a column that runs on Kate-book.com every Thursday at noon. It is written by the wise Katharine Luckinbill, who you should follow on Twitter. Got a life, friendship, family, dating, or relationship question that you’d like Dear Kate to answer? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and she will help you out.