A teen writes:
"I found out I was lesbian at age 12. My parents found out about my sexuality at 13 and effectively cut me off from almost anything. I'm home schooled, I only have contact with church members, and my whole church is homophobic. All sports that didn't have a coach that is a member of my church or has at least 3 other people from church was dropped. I am told every day that my "abnormality" will go away like it is some kind of disease. I'm 15 now and at the end of my rope and am slowly going insane. Any advise on how to handle it and get more support from other sources and forums for GLBT youth like me?"
Thank you so much for reaching out! This seems like a really terrible situation. First of all, I hope you know that being a lesbian isn't abnormal let alone a disease! It is a perfectly normal sexual orientation and something that people don't choose and can't change.
Though you are limited by the fact that you are a teen and your parents still have the legal right to make many decisions for you, there are a few things you can think about doing.
Find a Supportive Family Member
You say that your parents have cut you off from anyone who is not involved with their homophobic church. Do you have any family members who don't belong to your church who might be supportive? Are any of these people that your parents would let you see and who you could approach to help, or ask to talk to your parents on your behalf? Ideally you could find someone like an aunt, uncle or adult cousin who your parents respect and who could help convince them to let you expand your social world.
Find a Supportive Non-Family Member Adult
This just might not be an option based on how you describe your parent's decisions. But try to determine if there is anyone that you are connected to, even if that person belongs to your church, who could talk to your parents on your behalf. Is there another family in your church who you think might be able to help your parents loosen their grip? Maybe someone who had a teen who went through what they saw as bumpy times and came out on the other end?
Getting Help from the Outside
One thing you might want to do is contact the closest GLBT community center in your area. Explain your situation and ask if they have any advice or local resources that could help you. It doesn't sound like your parents would be open to outside help or an organization like Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), but there might be a group that can get involved.
You don't mention leaving home, but you should know about National Safe Place a GLBT-friendly organization that you can contact by phone, email or text and which is dedicated to educating teens about the dangers of running away and which provides alternatives to doing so. This is particularly important for GLBT teens who make up a disproportionately high number of homeless youth.
The Foster Care Option
What I am about to suggest is really drastic and should not be thought of lightly. But if you feel like your mental health is being affected by your situation, or think your parents are being abusive, you might want to consider contacting a local social service provider and consider an option like foster care.
Foster care refers to a situation where a court determines that child a cannot live at home and would be better served living in another environment. A child generally cannot opt to put him or herself in foster care, but can present a case for why he or she wants to do so.
Keep in mind, in many places in the United States, the foster care system is troubled and foster families and group homes are not always a better option than a child's birth family. However, if this is something that you want to consider you can google your state and the words "foster care" or "department of social services," to find out more.
Of course, going this route might also permanently strain or change your relationship with your family.
A Final Option
One last idea is that you could also tell you parents what they want to hear and hope that they give you more freedom as a result. Now staying closeted can really be hard on teens, and no one wants to be forced to lie about who they are, but in your situation, I think that being totally isolated from anyone who could support you could be even worse.
Though it might seem like there is no end in sight, try to set your sights on getting into college and out of your house and hopefully you will be able to more easily navigate the next few years with your family.
As Dan Savage tells teens, it get's better...