Yesterday evening I received a comment from a boy named Larsen, age fifteen. He didn’t tell me where he lived. He said this:
“The most important things to me are skating and my friends I skate with. They are like my family, and I never want to lose them, but I have finally realized I am gay, that I like boys, and I’m not sure what to do about it ’cause there’s no way my friends would be okay with it, no way. I would lose them.
“I read about the life you have with your boyfriend and then I ask myself if my life could ever be that way, if I could have a boyfriend and live with him and put up a Christmas tree together. I don’t see it happening, not if I want to keep my friends. The whole situation is totally fucked up and I am feeling pretty hopeless at this moment. Sorry to dump my troubles on you, but there’s no one else I can tell.”
Okay, I have responded to Larsen privately, but I want to address his situation publicly because I receive so many comments from gay skateboarders and other athletes all the time. Their message is always the same: “I’m sad and scared and I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to lose my friends or my family or both.”
I hesitate to generalize when giving advice to these young men. In certain situations, particularly for boys who live with their folks, coming out is not an option. And particularly in rural, small-town America, coming out can be hazardous to a guy’s health, I know. But most all of us know at least one person we can trust with our deepest secrets, someone who won’t share our secrets with everyone in town. And it’s terribly important you tell that person you are gay.
As to those of you with families who are accepting of the differences in people, you may be pleasantly surprised to find how supportive your parents and siblings are if you tell them you are gay. And if people you think are your “friends” are not accepting, then maybe they were never your friends in the first place. Maybe they only liked the straight-boy image you created for yourself in order to please them. True friends will accept you for who you are.
Look, coming out is tough, but staying in the closet is worse, believe me. In most cases, in my opinion, the sooner you’re out, the happier your life will be.
Have a nice Wednesday, everyone.