14 Jul 2011, 1:33am
your beluga best friend


Dear BBF,

I’m a junior in high school, and I don’t know how to go home without crying. I have the most amazing, supportive friends in the whole wide world, but sometimes it feels like my family does nothing but make fun of me and put me down. I expected coming out as a gay boy would make my school life harder, but it turned out that my family was worse than any of the school bullies. They outwardly support LGBT rights, but they joke about me to my face and laugh at me if I ever mention a cute boy or do something gender atypical. I don’t know how to get them to stop. My teachers feel safer than my parents.

I don’t know what to do, BBF.

Coming out is traumatic even in the best of circumstances. It demands an incredible amount of courage on your part. You probably don’t even know how brave you are right now, but when you’re thirty you’ll look back and go DAMN I WAS SO FUCKING BRAVE! So first of all, big warm mushy blubbery flipper-waving hugs for you, for getting this far. You are completely amazing, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The thing about family: they can love us, but that doesn’t mean they understand us. It doesn’t even mean they know how to do what’s best for us. Your family may well believe in justice for GLBTQ folks in theory, but a gay person in their everyday lives will force them to confront their deeper unexamined prejudices. It’s one thing for them to assert that faraway and invisible gay folk ought to be treated like full-fledged human beings. It’s something else when it hits closer to home.

Another possibility may be that your family is reacting to your actual real-life queeritude with laughter because they’re worried that if they “encourage” you to be queer as fuck, it’ll make you a target for hatred, or even violence. This is the kind of thing loving parents worry about, even if they don’t vocalize it to you. They may be laughing because they’re uncomfortable and scared and they don’t know what else to do.

Regardless of the possible explanations, nothing excuses their behavior. You are fully justified in asking them to stop. No, it is not okay for them to laugh and make jokes about your identity. No, it is not okay for them to make you feel unwelcome and unsafe in the home they share with you. If they keep doing it, remind them that it’s not funny, and leave the room/area if possible. I know this sucks. I know. But sometimes we have to draw and defend boundaries, even with our families, to cope and take care of ourselves.

Your conversations with your family on this subject may take a long time, and things may never work out exactly as you’d prefer. They might never be fully comfortable with your gayness, and the best arrangement you can reach is a truce.

Then again, they may surprise you, in time. Even though your family has been aware that gay folks exist in theory, the fact of you being gay is still somewhat new to them. Know that you can also rely on other support systems, like friends or teachers or even Tumblr. I’m really glad to hear that you have awesome friends; good friends can save your life, take it from me. Try to remember you are never truly alone. There are so many other kids out there dealing with the same struggles as you, and many adults who have lived similar experiences and survived. You will get through this.

And if it helps, this beluga loves you to tiny little pieces, for being smart and brave and strong, anonymous or not.

Love, Your Beluga Best Friend

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