A Guide for Those Who Feel Hurt Their Loved One Didn’t Come Out to Them Sooner
This essay is hastily adapted from long rant to my boyfriend, so forgive me if
I was a little looser with this one.
My brogog said to me once “I really wish you would have
talked to us about this before you made up your mind, rather than just
declaring it to us and trying to hold us hostage to your ‘identity’.”
Hopefully I can declare it obvious that there’s a lot more
going on in his statement than just simple ‘disappointment’. This is not the
sort of thing I want to talk about.
My mom, on the other hand, once said “It really hurts me
that you would think we would go so far as to kick you out of the house for
being gay. It really hurts, bagog.”
I’ve had this experience a lot, and I know a lot of people
newly out of the closet that have as well. So, for that reason, I wanted to
provide this little walkthrough to give friends and family of newly out people
a different perspective on how to process the feeling:
hurt/betrayed/lied to/rattled that you didn’t tell me you were gay sooner.”
I’m gonna keep this straight forward, here we go.
‘But We Share Everything!’
First of all, let’s destroy the notion that ‘friends/family
share everything’: No. Obviously not. As if that were even possible, it
misunderstands the nature of relationships: namely, a resonance between two
people of certain important aspects of oneself. Yes, absolutely, you may have
it as a goal to share AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE with a friend or family member, and
believe that they likewise share ‘everything’ with you. Typically, this is
something you need to verbally set-up with someone—if they haven’t said “I
share everything with you!” then you probably shouldn’t assume that’s how they
feel. If they HAVE said that, realize still that expecting someone to resonate
with you on every level is naïve. Working to find resonance where none exists naturally is probably one of the most fun parts of having a friendship.
‘But I Feel Hurt!’
That said, it is understandable that someone who
considers themselves a good friend would feel alarmed that their friend has a
large part of himself that he has kept secret. Let’s invent some characters:
Sebastian (who has just come out of the closet to his friends) and Philip
(Sebastian’s friend who feels hurt and frustration that he was not told
It makes sense Philip would even be hurt by the sudden
realization that his friend did not consider their bond strong enough to
weather the revelation: it is, on some level, an indictment of Philip’s own
capacity for friendship. He might feel threatened by the viewpoint that
Sebastian has just wordlessly told him that he, Philip, is not such a great
friend. I would expect anyone to feel a little put out by that.
Now, the line of consideration should be “Was I actually
wronged, am I asking for an apology? Do I require an apology for our
relationship to move forward?”
Mentioning these feelings of hurt to Sebastian is not
necessarily a bad thing. For Philip to tell his friend: “Hey, I was a
little taken aback–not that you are gay–but in realizing that our
relationship was not strong enough where you felt like it was safe to talk
about these things” that’s a totally understandable line of conversation.
However, by the time he gets there, it seems Philip would need to tacitly process
the following (Let’s do it together, along with Philip!):
My friend did not feel safe sharing this.
Then, the question becomes: 'did I do something to make
things unsafe? Or is my friend behaving irrationally?’
If you did something your friend could interpret as
'unsafe’, then the conversation sort of ends there: you understand, now, WHY
your relationship could not weather that revelation in the eyes of your friend.
From there, consider if perhaps you owe your friend an apology, but that’s an
essay for another time. You may feel lousy because realizing you made someone
feel unsafe makes you feel like a bad person—it’s okay to feel lousy about
that! It doesn’t mean you ARE a bad person, okay? Just process this. Preferably
not with the friend who has come out to you…
Moving on, if your friend is behaving irrationally, you
must ask yourself “does this irrationality harm me?” Harmful
irrationality might look like newly-out Sebastian declaring ‘I’m not going to
tell Philip I’m gay because it’s fun to make fun of his cluelessness behind his
More likely though, this irrationality does not harm Philip
(or you!) at all. Sebastian irrationally feels he cannot trust Philip, despite
the fact that the man has always been supportive: this could be due to societal
factors, mental illness, bad experiences in the past, etc. NONE OF THESE hurt
‘But I’ve Been Lied to!’
I have noticed that for some people, all of the above is
pretty solid and self-explanatory. But ‘lying’ to them feels like a different
animal. To illustrate, let us say friend Philip asks not-yet-out-of-the-closet
Sebastian “Who is that dude you’re talking to all the time? What’s the nature
of your relationship?” and Sebastian answers “Oh, just a friend.” Instead of
revealing the man as his boyfriend.
Later, when Sebastian DOES come out to Philip, Philip
feels lied to.
As to lying—the same thought process follows. If you ask the
question: “What is the nature of your relationship!?” THAT is an
action that DIRECTLY creates an unsafe territory–you have shown the
relationship to not be strong enough to handle the answer. Your friend lying to
protect himself from that does not weaken the relationship, that is a symptom
of the fact that the relationship is weak.
Philip is welcome to feel hurt that he has been lied to,
of course. But Sebastian does not violate the relationship by telling that lie,
again, the lie itself IS AN INDICATION OF A PROBLEM, NOT A PROBLEM IN ITSELF.
Make it Better
In conclusion: when a friend comes out to you, it’s not
about you. It’s about them stating something about themselves because they
believe themselves capable of handling the way you will behave… or being
extremely hopeful—at least—that you will behave in a way that edifies them. It’s
a pretty big compliment. It can easily be an opportunity to strengthen the
relationship. Walk yourself through why you feel hurt, and what this says about
you and the environment we live in: THAT is where growth occurs for you and
your relationship with your friend. Not in accusing them of mistrusting you.
Planned Parenthood is fucking amazing, y’all. I haven’t been there yet…but just talking to their HRT line on the phone…
They used my respected name right off the bat. Called me Riley all the way through. Used he/him pronouns. Didn’t slip up once. Asked me and “What’s your legal name? I’m sorry I have to ask that.”
Then asked me “Now is it okay if I send things with Riley Roswell to your home?” not wanting to out me accidentally and then “Is it okay if I send stuff with planned parenthood labels on them or do you want me to be discreet about it?” knowing there are people who could get in trouble with family or partners or others for going there.
OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO CRY AND THEY DIDN’T JUDGE ME AT ALL
THEY WERE TOTALLY ACCEPTING AND ANSWERED ALL MY STUPID FUCKING BASIC QUESTIONS ABOUT HRT ABOUT WHAT THE APPT WAS GONNA BE LIKE
AND SHE WAS SO KIND AND SO UNDERSTANDING
AND SHE RESPECTED ME SO MUCH AND I WAS SO HAPPY
I CAN’T BELIEVE PEOPLE LIKE THAT EXIST IN OUR WORLD.
OH MY GOD.
AND I’M GOING TO BE GOING TO THIS WONDERFUL PLACE ON THE 29TH!!!!!!!!
This was a little haphazard to put together. It started as a general comic about love after a really bad few weeks for me, and it had to evolve from there. I wanted to try to make something positive and inclusive. I hope this is just that.
However, I don’t want to deter the conversation from the fact that there was a hate crime committed yesterday against the LGBTQIA/Latin-American community and fifty lives were lost. Here are ways you can help Orlando, protest the blood Ban on queer men, also How to help Trans people of Color. (They were written by a dear friend of mine and Queer writer Katie Dupere; this comic is for her). <3
One day, I’m going to be a wife and a mother. I will come home from work to my own little family. I will wake up and fall asleep next to the person I love. We will be the ones that help teach our children to walk, talk, ride a bike, and be a good person. How incredible is that to think about? That “one day” isn’t just an idea, but that it’s actually going to happen?
Honestly being asexual is so hard sometimes. It feels like the entire world is in on some joke you just don’t get. You’re surrounded by media talking about sparks and uncontrollable desire and all the rest of it and you just keep waiting for the punch line because either everyone must be lying and exaggerating or you’re missing something which everyone says is a vital part of their lives and the be all or end all and you just feel confused and empty.
And being ace and suffering mental illness just makes it harder because you wonder if you really are ace or your numbness to the world has spread to your sexuality.
There needs to be more representation to validate our experiences because this confusion and self-doubt is horrible.