SL Letter of the Day: A Hopeful Thank-You Note
by Dan Savage
on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 3:38 PM
I'm a gay teen struggling through high school. I'm currently a junior and still in the closet, but I've grown more confident by the day. Your "It Gets Better" Project has really inspired me, and just hearing so many people say it does get better has really improved my self-esteem.
I come from a conservative Christian family so, of course, my biggest deterrent for coming out has been the fear my that parents will reject me based on the Scripture. After watching your very pragmatic debate with Brian Brown, I've come to realize that (as you put it) there is a lot of bullshit in the Bible. The most striking example to me was slavery. The Bible was used for centuries to defend slavery, a now obviously morally reprehensible action, and nobody questioned it. It's ridiculous that people decide to single out the very few (maybe 6 or 7) verses on homosexuality and decide that those statements prove God's hatred of homosexuality. You inspired me to do much research on the Bible and what it really says about homosexuality. And now more than ever I believe God doesn't care if I'm gay or straight, he loves me either way.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks! You've really helped me, both spiritually and mentally, in a number of ways. And even if I do come out and face ridicule, I know that it will get better. Seeing you and your partner happily married with a child shows me I can one day have a family, even if it's not a "traditional" one.
Coming Out Soon
My response after the jump...
Thank you for the nice note, COS, and my heart goes out to you. I was in your shoes once: ready to come out, terrified of how my religious—if not too terribly conservative—parents would react. They wound up reacting better than I had expected. Sometimes our families surprise us. But please don't come out until you feel you're ready and don't come out unless you have a solid back-up plan, i.e., some supportive friends on your side and someplace to stay if your parents throw you out of the house.
And even if your parents do react badly when you come out—even if they react in an unloving and un-Christian way—don't give up on them. There are so many examples at the "It Gets Better" Project of gay, lesbian, bi, and trans adults whose families rejected them when they first came out or transitioned but who eventually came around. Don't lose hope during what could be the worst of it, COS. So many LGBT people know unconditional love from family members who reacted badly when they first came out.
And please, COS, if you think there's a real chance that your family will retaliate against you for coming out—if you think they'll throw you out of the house or deny you financial support for college that they otherwise would've provided—wait to come out to them until you're in a safe place or you've cashed that first paycheck.
Have you heard of Matthew Vine? I think you would benefit greatly from watching the hour-long speech he gave about Christianity, the Bible, and homosexuality. The New York Times recently profiled Matthew. I think you'll find great comfort in his words, COS, and you should ask your parents to watch his video when you come out.
I'm glad the "It Gets Better" Project helped you, COS, and know that I'm out here rooting for you. Know that we all are. Good luck.