IS IT SAFE TO COME OUT?
Hello. I'm 16 and gay, living in a small town in Wisconsin. No one in my family knows that I'm gay. And I think I want to tell them, but I don’t know how they will react. My father is a Trump supporter, as is most people around here. He's made comments about "faggots" before, but I don't know if he actually thinks there is something wrong with being gay or if it's just something he says. Either way I've kept my mouth shut. The reason I want to tell my family is because we're close and my brother is my best friend, I feel like I'm hiding from them. My brother actually has a gay friend, so I think he'd be fine with it, but I also know he might respond differently when it's his brother and not a friend. Thoughts?
Coming out is complicated. Thankfully, there is no standard for when someone is "supposed" to come out, and sadly there is no way to know exactly what people are going to think when you decide to. Everyone is different and everyone is in different situations. Here are a couple BIG things to think about.
1. Will coming out hurt your living situation? You're still a minor and l assume living at home. Would your parents kick you out or make your life miserable? If so, don't rush the process. You didn't say anything about them putting pressure on you to tell them or them asking you tons of questions trying to get you to say anything. I'm not suggesting you "hide" but if coming out can have a direct negative effect on your immediate life, just wait. You're 16, probably close to finishing high school, which means you can go off and do whatever you want with your life. Is college in the future? If not, why not? What can you do to make it a possibility?
2. Are there other people you can tell? You didn't mention if you have friends that know or other people in your life that you've talked to about it. Having a strong social support system has been shown in research to have HUGE positive outcomes for people dealing with a multitude of life issues/changes. Is there a LGBTQ youth group anywhere near you? If so, this may be a great place to meet other people your own age who are dealing with a similar conundrum. Stay off sexual networking apps (Grindr, Jack'd, Scruff), because you're 16 and it might not be safe, not because there is anything wrong with the apps.
3. If you've decided that your family is not going to kick you out or make your life a living Hell, and you do come out, give them time. Not every family is going to react the same and some may need time to come around. Even the best parents can sometimes react poorly to new information about their offspring that was not anticipated. It may be necessary for you to provide them with some information about having a child that's gay. A great place to start is PFLAG.org.
4. Always have a backup plan. You never know how someone is going to respond and this is not meant to scare you. But, if the shit should hit the fan, have a friend you can stay with for a few nights until things cool down. No matter what happens, keep your head up. You're very young and you have your whole life ahead of you. Research has also shown that how the first people respond when you come out sets the tone for expectations of responses in the future. Keep in mind, this isn't ALWAYS true. Even if your family responds badly, it doesn't mean everyone else will in the future too.
Best of luck,