Coming out: how young is too young? - Discussion

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by eddyphobia, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. eddyphobia

    eddyphobia New Member

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    Last month, 14 year old Jamey Rodemeyer from Buffallo NY who identified himself as gay took away his own life. Last Saturday, Jamie Hubley, 15 did the same in Ottawa. Was it their decision on coming out at such young age has since affected their life, leading them to suicide?

    Hundreds if not thousands of young kids today are coming out as a homosexual thinking that they are ready, when clearly they are not. At such young age, it is hard to believe that they have actually fully realize and aware of the repercussions of their actions. I am questioning, is it ALWAYS better for one to come out and openly embrace one's sexuality? Are there exceptional situations where being closeted is a better option?

    Of course we can argue on how the society itself not being accepting, being discriminatory etc. but let's keep it in the perspective of the kid coming out him/herself. Being that young would they fully know what are they putting themselves into?

    I did remember when I was 11, I'd feel 'something' whenever I notice another guy, but back then that feeling just went away and I'll just totally forget about it over soccer on evenings. I did not fully understand what sexual orientation really is. At that point, being a boy who likes other boys did not define me, I was still very much discovering myself. At most, I remembered feeling a lot confused. I was not sure of a lot of things at that time. But today, you can search up on YouTube kids as young as 11 making vlogs on coming out to the whole world.

    I'd like to hear thoughts on these kids coming out of the closet at such young age, and maybe answer some of the questions above. Looking forward to a good, friendly discussion. :smile:
     
  2. phndoc

    phndoc Member

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    As, a father of one that came out. They knew around 7yrs of age that they were different. I wasn't told tell ten years later. I told them the samething, that they can change at anytime. I accepted who they were and loved them. With that said I had known for years already. I am so sorry about the boys but, the stess isn't easy to handle at an early age.
     
  3. D_Harry_Crax

    D_Harry_Crax Account Disabled

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    I think Dan Savage gives good advice on this: it's not about when you feel like you are ready to come out, it's more about thinking through WHEN is a logically GOOD time to come out. For example, if a young GLBT person thinks he/she is likely likely to be attacked, killed, thrown out of the house, disowned, etc., by his/her parents, then he/she shouldn't come out until he/she at least graduate from high school or are no longer living with parents, whichever occurs later. One must have common sense in life, and if one doesn't have common sense, one must be advised by others who do....
     
  4. Bbucko

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    I'm gonna bet that most people come out similar to the way I did: in stages, depending on the expectation of support.

    I came out to some very good friends and my sister as bisexual beginning at around 15 (and I was still a virgin). By the time I was winding down with my last girlfriend two years later, it was an open secret. I came out to my parents as gay about four months before my 18th birthday and shortly thereafter to my entire High School. It was 1977.

    For the record, I can imagine why some guys remain closeted until they leave home either to go to college or because they prefer living on their own (and can afford to do so). But there's a big difference between not sharing the particulars of one's sex life with one's folks and lying to a girl (and having sex with her) when you know in your heart of hearts that you're really gay.

    And I truly believe that one owes it to society, and not just oneself, to come out when you feel it's time. That varies for each individual, and I'd never presume to dictate such a personal decision to anyone else. But the closet's a lonely, self-loathing place. Guys who come out later in life usually have some real issues with being gay.
     
  5. eddyphobia

    eddyphobia New Member

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    Yes. And kids' logic don't always make sense, that's the problem.

    On failure to have reasonable expectations, does anyone else also think that the media has contributed to this unrealistic expectations? A lot has been shown on TV/news on how easier it gets after coming out e.g. the It Gets Better project, rather than realistically depicting the actual situation? Coming out does make a lot of things better and more positive, but not without some negative effects. And being young, as phndoc mentioned the stress could be overwhelming.
     
  6. D_Dan_T_Zinferno

    D_Dan_T_Zinferno New Member

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    I came out at fourteen. I was always an outsider, harrassed in school from the beginning but as soon I was honest about who I was, I found I had more friends than ever. I came out because I honestly thought things couldn't get worse. The support I received, which I likely wouldn't have had I remained closeted, ultimately saved me from taking my own life, so 'the actual situation' differs for everyone.
     
  7. bigbadger

    bigbadger Active Member

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    This is a very good discussion. I think everyone above makes valid points. Not to cop out, but I do not think there is one solid answer to this question. As stated above, I think this is a very situational thing, and may differ from person to person.

    I agree with the OP on the notion that adolescents around the ages of 11, 12, etc. probably do not truly have the maturity or wherewithall to handle coming out. They also may not truly understand all the consequences and ramifications of coming out.

    What I find really interesting are the young males who are so obviously gay they cannot really deny or pretend to be strait. For lack of a better example, someone like Kurt Hummel from Glee. Someone who is so flamboyant, effeminate, and over-the-top gay they cannot hide it. In a way people like that almost have the right and opportunity to come out taken away from them. So regardless of what they may truly want or feel, they have no choice to come out. I think we all know/knew someone like this in middle school or high school.

    Some of us can hide the fact we are gay and pass as strait, whether we intend to or not. But I do have to wonder what its like for someone who is 13 and more or less forced out of the closet.

    Like mentioned above, the closet is never really a healthy or positive place to be at any time. I can see though for certain people depending on the family or community they live in why they might be better off staying in the closet.

    In case anyone cares I did not come out until I was 21 and also came out in stages as well, telling various people at different times. And yes I wish I would have come out when I was younger, although I know I was not capable of coming out when I was 13 or 14. In hindsight I should have dealt with being gay at a younger age, preferably around 18. But any younger than that I would not have been able to come out.
     
  8. ck85x65

    ck85x65 New Member

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    Its always tougher to fit in when you are "different" regardless of what that difference is, or where it comes from. On youtube, I Support You" vid is remarkable. The presenter is a canadian high school jock, who does not act, sound, walk, or behave like the media-defined sterotypical gay guy. He relates the stories of his family'stotal support, and how his various teammates reacted to his coming out. He also mentions an email from a friend at the time, asking if he was going to suddenly become more flamboyant as a result of coming out.

    It is difficult to deal with gay stereotypes sometimes, because it is gay people who perpetuate them, via Pride Parades around the world, gay clubs etc. unsure how to resolve that, since it can be legitimately argued that a single parade, on a single day, should not color the public view of gays. But it does.

    Lastly it is important to recognize the u.s.-centric aspect of this discussion; gays have had the legal right to marry, divorce and adopt children in canada for several years, and in a number of countries around the world, gay marriage, divorce, and adoption are non news items, completely accepted into those countriy's cultures ---it is all a non-issue with many people wondering which past century americans think they are living in.
     
  9. silvertriumph2

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    eddyphobia...
    GREAT thread, man...thanks for starting it, for I have been wondering and worrying the same things.

    I am really not a very good one to give advice, since I am beyond middle age, a father a couple of times, and still living a straight life to the world, and am still not out as BI...except to a very few select people.

    I have known that I was BI since before I was a teen and way before I ever knew there was a name for it. I heard about
    "queers and homos and adulterers and fornicators" daily and on Sundays, but I didn't feel I fit. I didn't think I was a queer or homo...I was not married at the time so was not an adulterer, but I figured I was maybe a fornicator, but was not sure. I knew I was not gay even though I was having sex with guys, but since I was also into girls...and very active sexually with them...that confused the heck out of me. What the heck was I...gay or straight!...maybe just normal? I was a wreck most of the time thinking it would be found out that I had sex with guys as well,
    so, I did everything I could to be a jock, be known as and admired for being a school stud, and be one of the guys that would never be taunted. I had no one to go to for advice or help
    of any kind. It was terrible...but I managed some how.

    I don't think I would have been able to "come out" at that age, for I would not have beenable to cope with all the pressures in the Deep South at the time. So much hate and damnation spewed out by the "good" folks with absolutely no place to go for support of any kind. But, then it was maybe even more difficult then, than it is today...at least today there is some support and a few groups that are available...if one knows that they are available and has the nerve to take advantage of them.

    We had bullying in my time, but I think the news covererage of today has made it an "in thing" for those who bully...and has made it worse. It has become a status symbol for the bullies. And, the young seem to be scared of taking up for their friends when they are bullied and I don't blame them. In the old days yiou mdight get a blooded nose, but today you can be taken iout tha tierd to a fence and murdered or left to die. When I was young, our friends would fight bullies on our behalf....maybe not win, but at least they stood up for their friends. But this was bullying not of gays but for other reasons, for being skinny or fat...or 4 eyes with glasses...or pigeon toed, wore braces on teeth, etc. Today the young people seem to turn the other way.

    I don't remember gay taunting at all...it was more subtle...like leaving messages in the achool or park toilet stalls or over urinals, or on the front of lockers, or scratched into seats or desks, etc....or just not allowing them a seat at the same table in the lunch room.

    I have seen too many reports of young people taking their lives and I think it is the fault of all of us...every one of us...for not trying to understand what is going on and taking place in a pubescent male or female. And , probably me for not coming our myself...but I do call down people when I see something happening.

    Every young person has the RIGHT to be helped and not taunted for something that they were born with and is NOT CHANGEABLE...no matter what Michele Bachmann and others say.
     
    #9 silvertriumph2, Oct 25, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2011
  10. D_George Tush

    D_George Tush New Member

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    I'm 22. Only a handful of my regular friends know i fuck men.
     
  11. ck85x65

    ck85x65 New Member

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    We should also remember that hate often finds its genesis from ignorance, asvwell as the inability to accept differences in people, when no harm is experienced.

    The last problem i want to suggest is that there are those who, not knowing at all why, nonetheless are so stongly opposed to anyone "different" from themselves they become irrational because they feel so utterly threatened. On monday of this week, a man was savagely beaten by thugs, who then tied his body to a streetlamp pole (unconscious, with bleeding lascerations, contusions and bruises, and numerous broken bones, and then burned him alive. His remains were found be citizens the next morning, who were out for a walk. In Scotland. He was the manager of a small local hotel, and the Strathclyde police can find no motive, except that he was gay, and not closeted. He was tortured and violently murdered ---because he was gay.
     
  12. youngstud33

    youngstud33 New Member

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    Not sure about others, but it actually bothers me to hear "I have known for years" from a parent in regards to a child coming out. They think that it is better off letting their child come out on their own and be comfortable with it themselves, but I see it in the opposing light. If a parent knows that their child is gay, why not be there for them when you know they are dealing with a lot of issues emotionally? So much of their anxiety comes from their fear of being rejected from their parents, so why not help your child through this time, and express your support for them?

    Another thing, after watching quite a few bullycide documentaries and stories, it seems outrageous how little the parents actually involved themselves with their kids being out publicly at a young age. I do not see complaining to school administration as being enough to help your child out when you know and see the torment and struggles he goes through. Why is not a change of school or a total relocation out of the picture? Is it not financially the best option for you? But in hindsight is that loss financially worth the loss of a child, I doubt it. What I am getting at, obviously, is parents need to be more involved with their children, whether or not met with resistance from their children.
     
  13. matelalique

    matelalique Active Member

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    Thanks for putting this post up - it's a complex question. My high school years were spent in South Africa in the late 80s (in Johannesburg, so a socially liberal city if you ignore the lack of black people at my high school), but there was no way I was coming out in that environment. And my dad didn't accept my homosexuality until my early 30s, so I put little faith in parental support. There was one Kurt-Hummel type at my high school (Dave), who was mercilessly ridiculed, and not much support from the rest of the students. And then there was the drama club, with plenty of gay men, like myself, who were able to "pass". I would not recommend to the younger version of myself to come out in that kind of environment. Dave on the other hand, had nothing to lose, and he was never in denial to anyone about his homosexuality. For him, the ability to own it, and use it as his own weapon against his detractors was a source of self-esteem.

    One of the most important indicators of gay tolerance is whether you personally know a gay person, meaning that the message should be come-out come-out wherever you are. I could have helped Dave a lot in high school by coming out. If I were teaching today in a Ugandan high school, I might seriously question the wisdom of coming out to anyone, despite being completely out in my current cushy Chicago lifestyle.

    So what is too young? Late 30s in Uganda is clearly too young, but in a supportive school system in Boston or San Francisco, perhaps societal attitudes in those places have developed. Perhaps 10 and 11 year-olds get to have same-sex crushes openly, and learn to have teenage relationships like their straight counterparts, rather pretending to have an girlfriends, or waiting until their 20s to start learning about how to have a relationship.

    I don't think there is an absolute age. I think there is an age that is appropriate to the maturity level of the community (sorry Uganda!).
     
  14. eddyphobia

    eddyphobia New Member

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    I agree, it does vary greatly from person to person. It's great if the 'actual situation' is largely positive and you do receive support from everyone. But not so if it's the other way around. What I'm saying is in the media today a lot of them are portraying the notion that EVERYTHING is gonna be fine if you come out. Hollywood, for example -- they make it look SO easy to be accepted into the society after coming out (especially in the recent years). And when that wasn't the case for these kids, their expectation was not met and they'll start to realize what have they put themselves into.

    I like what bigbadger and ck85x65 pointed out, that one couldn't help themself especially if he/she is totally different. I'm talking about perhaps an effeminate boy, or rough acting girls. In this cases youngstud33 has put out very solid point.


    silvertriumph2 and matelalique thank you for the great response. The reason why I'm putting it here is because it bothers me so much especially the recent suicidal episodes involving really young kids. I am only 19 myself (I identify as bisexual) and I can't say I give the best of advices, but I try. :smile:
     
  15. Russ311

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    I personally think 14 is still a little young! I feel at that age you're still exp[loring your sexuality. So it may be too soon to put a label on who or what you! I personally feel you need to be certain of who you are before you stand up an announce it!
     
  16. B_jeepguy2

    B_jeepguy2 New Member

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    I am 38 and have never officially come out. I am pretty sure my family knows by now but it is never discussed; Somewhere around age 35 they stopped asking me when I was going to get a girlfriend.

    I am currently self employed but when I worked in an office with others I am pretty sure the folks I worked with knew but nobody ever said anything.
     
    #16 B_jeepguy2, Oct 26, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  17. Phil Ayesho

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    Could the recent movement encouraging teens to recognize and face up to their sexual orientation CAUSE more stress resulting in more suicides?
    Are you suggesting that those who remain closeted at least fly under the radar of the other kids, and therefore suffer less ostricization and abuse?

    Surely that is a factor.


    Really... every other kid from 14 to 18 is confronting their sexuality daily. The straight kids are busy figuring out how to interact with the opposite sex and how attraction and physical contact actually work.

    The idea that Gay teens should miss out on the same period of developmental experimentation, and continue on, hiding their interests, so as to escape the cruelty of their fellow teens seems like a form of regressive capitulation, even tho it might result in fewer instances of being bullied to death.

    And I think that many closeted teens still are perceived by their peers as being sufficiently different, if not outright suspected of being gay, that they still suffer plenty of harassment, and moreso than the average teen.

    Black folks got hurt, lots of them, when they decided to finally stand up and demand their rights back in the 60's.

    It seems harsh, but these sacrifices made the world a better place for all who followed.

    I think we have to dedicate ourselves to vote ALL Republicans and religious extremists out of office... that we have to demand that children not be allowed to terrorize each other, and that we socially ostracize and humiliate parents who fill their kids heads with prejudice and fear and hatred of anyone who is different from them.

    I think we, as a culture, have to move Thru this, and thereby move forward toward a more just and compassionate world.
     
  18. B_jeepguy2

    B_jeepguy2 New Member

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    I think kids are learning about sexuality at a much earlier age than people in previous generations. I was 11 in 1983 and back then NOBODY even talked about sex much less homosexuality. Looking back I am sure that my aunt and her long term "roomate" were lesbians, and one of our neighbors who was a lifelong bachelor was gay but this sort of thing was never discussed by my family.

    Sex was not all over TV like it is today and the Internet didn't exist back then. I remember feeling 'something' whenever I saw a cute boy or an attractive man but I didn't realize it was sexual. I knew how straight sex worked because my friend and I had found his dad's collection of porn magazines but I honestly did not even know what homosexuality was. The first time I ever heard of someone being gay was when Rock Hudson died of AIDS several years later and people started talking openly about homosexuality.

    After that I pretty quickly figured out that what I was feeling for other guys was sexual attraction and I became very depressed because I did not want to be gay. I had always seen myself getting married having kids and all that. I seriously considered suicide many times because I thought that it would be better for me to just be dead than embarrassing my family by being gay.

    In the past few years it has reached the point where sex and homosexuality is everywhere. Kids today are exposed to it on TV and the Internet. More gay people are out so chances are many if not most have a family member who is gay and out. I think if a kid knows a gay person that is respected by their parents ot in the community they are much more likely to come out when they realize they are gay. When I was coming along there were no gay role models because most adults who were gay kept it to themselves.
     
    #18 B_jeepguy2, Oct 26, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  19. D_Kitten_Kaboodle

    D_Kitten_Kaboodle Account Disabled

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    My husband's sister was gay. She lived 38 years and never actually told anyone in the family...but we all knew.

    Even if you don't tell your family...they know.

    I learned of her orientation when she was 15. I'm not sure if her life would have been any different had she just come out then, but I have oftened wondered.

    Coming out (IMO) depends on the person's personality and self-confidence. Also the family dynamics and other support networks play important roles in the decsion. If the person feels they will be supported by the family, it's much easier to talk about it. But rejection is often very difficult to overcome.

    I wish things were different.... I wish people didn't put so much leverage on a person's sexual orientation. I wish it really just didn't matter... But until parents learn to teach children to open their minds and accept people as just that "people" without labels.... I'm afraid their will always be bullying and riducle.

    (SIGH)
     
  20. MarkLondon

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    I don't really see much point in coming out as gay until you're old enough to legally have sex or even (in the states with it's higher drinking age) to patronise a gay bar or club.

    I came out at 17 when the gay age of consent was 21 in the UK. That led to a four year drought of lovemaking. No men on the only recently legalised gay scene were going to risk jail for sleeping with me. I'd done better clandestinely prior to coming out.

    Coming out too early also led to a rift with my family (now mostly healed), the termination of my education (since largely made up), losing all my friends and relocating to the big city at a tender age.

    Luckily in the early 70s there was a community of gay activists and an alternative social scene not based on commercial bars in London, so I had access to a social network and made good friendships some of which have lasted to this day.

    Also, I do sometimes wonder whether if I hadn't so publicly determined my sexuality in terms of the gay/straight dichotomy (which I no longer believe in so strongly) too early on I might have ended up bisexual.
     
    #20 MarkLondon, Oct 26, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
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