March 9, 2012 - submitted by Emma, United States of America
Q. TEAM ORACLE QUESTION #62
Two years ago, I came out as gay to my closest friends. I thought they would accept me but I ended up losing every friend I had but one. I ended up developing severe depression for almost two years, and it got so bad that I was suicidal at one point. Now, two years later, I have a steady group of close friends who accept me and love me, but I'm not out to my extended friend group. It's uncomfortable being around them, having to pretend that I'm interested when they're talking about who they like and not being able to talk about that myself. It's near torture on a daily basis. I feel like I'm hiding part of who I am from my friends. The thing is, I'm terrified that if I come out to those friends I'll end up losing them, and I don't know if I'd be able to handle that all over again. Could you maybe help me out here? Thanks.
The Oracle replies:
Emma, you're not hiding part of who you are, you are hiding who you are. Remember that one friend who stood by you the first time you came out, well it's friends like that you need to focus on.
You may be surprised by the support you get. If however your fears are confirmed and these friends react the same as the last group it would mean they are NOT your friends. If that results in you having to go through losing them, you could handle that again. You went through hell and came out the other side so you're stronger now. Surely that hell would be no worse than the one you're living in now? It shouldn't matter to anyone what your sexual orientation is. It's crazy that in 2012 there is still stigma attached to being gay but be yourself. Don't apologize for who you are. If other people don't accept you, shrug your shoulders and walk away; don't waste valuable time and energy on the negativity that comes from people's bigotry.
When you decide to tell your friends, maybe have someone with you for support - just in case. Let's try and have faith in your friends though and tell them soon. It will be a weight lifted if nothing else. Good luck! Over to you...
Well Emma, you are one brave girl. In the end it does not matter what other people think, only that you are happy. You say you have close friends and that is good so why the need to come out to the rest? If they are your friends they will get it or may suspect it already, if not oh well they will miss out on your friendship, don't be afraid of losing your friends be more afraid of losing who you really are by pretending to be something you are not. I consider myself to be rather open-minded but let me tell you when my child came out to me it was a real shock, I was sad because I was worried about this could make my child's life harder. What is harder was my child worrying how I would react. I was ok, I just needed some time to grasp it. Nothing changes your love or in your case real friendship, your friends will have varied reactions and comments, they will accept it if they are truly your friends, if not they never really were. I wish you all the best. Name Withheld.
I know how it feels to reveal a part of yourself to friends and they don't accept you, and my answer is this-you should tell your friends. Even though the same thing could happen, yet again, it could be different. If your friends truly love you then they will accept you, and if they don't, you must tell yourself that they aren't worth your time and there are better friends than them. It could be painful again, but you deserve better than how your old friends treated you and it isn't right for you to have to hide yourself. Be honest with them, and I hope everything works out. Just remember - it's not how they define you, but how you define yourself is who you are, and no one has the right to hurt you. Good luck, and I hope they love an accept you for the REAL you! Katie.
First of all, please know that you are not alone in your situation.
Coming out is a one day at a time, one person at a time process and millions have and are doing it worldwide.
When I came out years ago, I had some very interesting reactions from family and friends but that's another show. It was a different time.
I suggest looking into anything related to self development. Self esteem takes a real hit in this world when you're gay and especially in the tender years.
Your feelings are valid, your needs are important. Positive mirroring back of your value, can be water in a desert.
Non-shaming support groups, spiritual or otherwise can be very helpful.
In the meantime, something fun and insightful might be to get a friend who is openly gay to join you and then watch your friends to see how they respond.
Then the cream will rise to the top in terms of what friends YOU decide to choose. It could be like a silent interview they are in as you friend shop. I hope this helps, Michael.
First of all let me say to you that I think you are very brave. It takes a lot of courage to get out of the closet. I feel really sorry for the fact that you had to get through that. Friends need to built on each other and should be able to tell each other everything. That's part of my answer right there, you have a new group of friends and you should be able to tell them everything (you want to tell). If they are real friends they will understand you and give you the confidence boost you need to get through this difficult part of your life.
You say it feels like torture not letting them know who you are.
Think of this what would you rather have; you telling them the truth or that they will find out some other way? I think you should tell them, it will be scary, I know. Though after that you will know if they are your true friends and if they are you can overcome anything with them. Yours faithfully, Yelena.
It must have taken a lot of courage to come out to your friends, and I admire you for it. The people who stopped being a part of your life after you came out were probably never your true friends to begin with, because an important part of friendship is sticking by each other through everything. I'm deeply sorry for how difficult it was for you to cope, but you made it - which is another thing I admire. No one who is gay should be treated any differently than those who aren't. That is why I think that you need come out to those people as soon as possible. If they're true friends, they will still be by your side. If they end up walking away, then let them. Think about it: would you really want to be friends with people who don't accept you? Someone once told me "there is always a reason to smile" and it's true, even when there are times in your life when that couldn't seem further away from the truth. Life is an extraordinary gift with many ups and downs. When you fall down, the only way is up. Keep that in mind and also remember that so many people love you! Please, don't ever give up on life because I believe that you're capable of greatness. I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world. Sincerely, Medina.
Emma, a true friend loves you for who you are, if they don't they aren't true friends. I only share my real self with the two people closest to me. Others I give my warmth and positive energy to and some glimpses of me. We all have been rejected and hurt and hopefully learn to whom we can share ourselves with and whom we should keep more as casual friends. When socializing, it is how you make others feel when they are around you, it's not about you. If these friends really don't know you're gay, and you feel this need to share this about you, you can let them know without being "in your face" about it. Show that things don't have to change and that you are still the same person. It is usually confusion that makes people uncomfortable, like you might be interested in them in that way too. Help them understand who you are, the caring, vibrant person of your spirit. Then if they reject you on account of this, then they weren't friends to begin with and stay with your steady group. People reject other people all the time from jealousy and confusion. People like to be around like minded people. Just don't let rejection set you back and make you feel less. Never let anyone have power over you, just focus on the beauty that is within you. Dawn.
I can understand your longing for acceptance as I often find myself in similar situations for one reason or another. I also know it's hard not to want to fit in and be liked. However, for others to accept us, we have to accept ourselves. Instead of changing yourself for them, or pretending to be someone you're not, be honest with them and let your personality shine through. Know that your true friends will stick with you because of who you are and the things you do, not because of who you like and dislike. You deserve better friends than those who abandoned you and I'm very glad to hear you now have some that you are comfortable around. I think you should tell your other friends as well to give your relationships with them a chance to grow, but remember that you don't need their approval to be happy. Wish you the best. Love, Darem.
I'm so sorry to hear about what happened and you're situation. I'm glad that you do still have circle of friends. I think to solve your problem there are many solutions. One of these solutions may be to have one of your friends tell them. I know it may sound like you're a coward when you do this but once they tell them you won't have to do it. They may or may not accept it, but I personally think that that is a risk worth taking. I know that your previous experience wasn't so nice with this. But maybe if your closer friends tell them it will soften the blow. If they ask why you did it in this particular way you could tell them about that previous experience you had, and how it affected you. If you don't want to do it this way I'd take that close group of friends and have them support you as much as possible while you tell them. If you decide to do it this way, I'd first start off by explaining to them what happened two years ago and how it affected you and then maybe slowly build towards your point. I think that this would just make them understand better why you're telling them and how keeping it secret is really frustrating.
I really admire your courage. I really do. Stay strong and don't give up. Silke, Barcelona.
Emma, love is always a controversial topic, and a lot of people have difficulty of coping with the concept of homosexuality, it can be a serious issue to someone, and for you friends, you have to be delicate. The problem you're in isn't that they won't accept you for it, it is that you have been waiting to tell them for two years. Whether it be homosexuality or anything else, you cannot hold things back from your friends that they need to know about you. Losing your friends is a horrible thing to hear about, but I feel like if one of my friends held something back, that led me to thinking they're a different person then they really are, I would be estranged too, but don't get me wrong, what your former friends did isn't something anyone should have to go through.
My advice, go ahead and tell your new friends that you are gay, but don't lay it on bluntly, you need to ease it onto them. Put yourself in their shoes, mentally, see how you would react. You've waited a bit long for this, but I feel that if you go ahead and tell them, and explain the whole story to them, you'll end up with your friends at your side. Best wishes, Bradley H.
Thanks to all those who wrote in with their thoughts. Remember, Team Oracle is open to anyone so if you fancy replying, click to read this week's question, and send us your answer.