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COMING OUT
Important Questions Answered

Is there something wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?

No. There have been people in all cultures and times throughout human history who have considered themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT). In fact, in many cultures, homosexual practices are considered an unspoken norm and the homosexual considered a shaman. Both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association agree that Homosexuality is not an illness or a disorder. Homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association in 1974. Being transgender or gender variant is not a disorder either. Being GLBT is as much a wonderful human variation as being left-handed - a person's sexual orientation and gender identity are just another facet of who they are. There is nothing wrong with being GLBT - in fact, there's much to celebrate.

What is wrong

Discriminatory laws, policies and attitudes that persist in our schools, workplaces, places of worship and larger communities. Lend your voice and your support when you can to make sure that GLBT people have full civil rights and can live openly, and free from discrimination and violence.

Can gay people be made straight?

Hardly, although people have been trying to do this for years with horrible results or no success,

there are religious and secular organizations which sponsor campaigns and studies suggesting that GLBT people can change their sexual orientation or gender identity. They are coming into these studies with a personal or a misplaced religious agenda and their assertions assume that there is something wrong with being GLBT – their studies are flawed. The largest problem is, society's intolerance of difference.

There are fanatic religious groups that believe that they can convert gay men and women to straight men and women. No studies show proven long-term changes in gay or transgender people, and many reported changes are based solely on behavior and not a person's actual self-identity. So what are they doing? They are just putting frightened, intimidated people back in their closet. The American Psychological Association has stated that scientific evidence shows that so called reparative therapy (therapy which claims to change GLBT people) does not work and that it can do more harm than good.

I knew a friend who was in a Christian college that wanted to go to one of those reparative groups because he wanted to stop being gay (for Jesus) and they wouldn’t accept him to their fold because they thought he was not ready. If they weren’t ready, the College was because they found out that my friend was gay and insisted that he leave. They told him that if he didn’t have a private room he would be given one, and asked that he not pervert any underclassmen. He was devastated and so were his friends, but for a different reason. His friends were only devastated because he was gay. Those people that he thought were his spiritual loving friends have never spoken to him since.

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How do I know that I’m gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?

Many people say that they have "felt different" or knew they were attracted to people of the same sex from the time they were very young. Some transgender people talk about feeling from an early age that their gender identity did not fit with parental and social expectations. Others sometimes don’t figure out their sexual orientation until they are adolescents or adults. Often it can take a while for people to put a label to their feelings – we do live in a society where only heterosexuality has been purported to be the norm. Many times, people's feelings, especially if they are loving, growing and intelligent, change over time. Understanding our sexuality and gender can be a life-long process, and people shouldn't worry about labeling themselves right away. However, with positive images of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people more readily available, it is becoming easier for people to identify their feelings and come out at earlier ages. People don't have to be sexually active to know their sexual orientation - feelings and emotions are as much a part of one's identity.

Personally, I think that everyone is Bi and we should fall in love with and have safe intimate relationships with who we are in love with.

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How do I come out to my family and friends?

There are tons of questions to consider before coming out. You need to protect yourself. Your wonderful Christian loving parents and friends can become frightening evil opposites of themselves and their religion. Don’t assume that your parents must know because you think you are obvious. Most times they have placed themselves in denial and just think you are creative or overly intellectual. If you’re not obvious, they will probably think it is a phase and try to set you up with dates with the opposite sex. If you are under the age of 18 and can’t support yourself, make sure your parents are open-minded and cool about gay people. Many upstanding, Christians have turned their kids out on the street. So, be sure you are prepared to come out when you come out. Remember, the friends who are really your friends will stay with you. The others may or may not come back after time.

Things to consider before coming out

Are you sure you are comfortable with your sexuality and gender identity/expression? Do you have support, financial as well as spiritual? What kind of views do your friends and family have about homosexuality and gender variance, and do you care? Are you financially dependent on your family? Can you be patient? Make sure you have thought your decision through, have a plan and supportive people you can turn to. And be prepared for the stages that your family or loved ones may go through upon learning you are different. Coming out can cause shock, denial, guilt and grief. Your loved ones will need time to adjust to your news, the same way you may have needed time to come to terms with yourself. However, true acceptance is possible, especially with education and support.

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How can I reconcile my or my loved one's sexual orientation with my faith?

First of all are you talking about faith or religion? Religion was created by man and faith is inspired by God, whether it be Buddha, Jesus or whatever. If you have a spiritual core and a quest for spiritual growth with whatever godhead you believe in you are doing just fine.

Unfortunately, learning that a loved one is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can be a challenge if you feel it is at odds with the religious tradition you were raised with. However, being GLBT does not impact a person's ability to be moral and spiritual any more than being heterosexual does. Many GLBT people are religious and active in their own faith communities. It is up to you to explore, question and make choices in order to reconcile religion with homosexuality and gender variance. For some this means working for change within their faith community, and for others it means leaving it

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