Is it okay to never, and I do mean never, come out of the closet with your family? And by okay, I am more asking for a mental okay. Hoping it won't drive me crazy to do it. Because leaving my family isn't really an option. Every job I've ever had, the money has always gone to the family because they needed it. And when I'm not working then you give your time. I really don't have a social life; I have a family. I can't leave them, but the whole family is one step away from completely homophobic, so I don't want to stay with them. I would very much appreciate some advice. If not I understand and thanks for reading. Bye.
Majora (age 18)
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An excellent question. Can a person hide who he or she truly is forever and ever? I tried to do it for four years. I was married to a wonderful woman, but at the age of 40 I came to the earth-shaking realization that I was gay. I hid it for a long time, but though I did my best, my now-ex was/is not a stupid person. She knew something was up, and the tension got worse and worse with each passing year. Finally, there came a time when it had to come out. We were going through some old photos and she looked at me and asked what happened to us. I started to cry and just said the truth. We both cried together and what followed was very difficult for both of us (still is), but we got through it and remain friends (I’m so grateful!)
Majora, your family knows who you are as a person, and you live with them every day. No matter how hard you try, and even if you can manage it for years, eventually, the truth will be made known, either on purpose or by accident, but it will happen. At that point, several things might occur: 1) your family (and you) will pretend they don’t know the truth, which will result in anger and bitterness because the secret will be nagging at the back of everyone’s mind, or 2) there will be a lot of yelling and screaming and, if they are intolerant people, you will find yourself on the wrong side of the door (or subjected to long efforts to try to “cure” you, which is a living hell), or 3) you will discover that your family really does love you and will learn to accept you for who you are (aka a true family).
It pains me that your family dominates you so much that you don’t even have a social life. No friends? No chance to play sports or go to a party with some school buddies? Really? How awful! I understand that family is family, and it is good of you to be helping out with the financial burdens, but you have a right to be happy, as well. Now, because they depend on you for money, I would guess they are not going to toss you out the door because that would be making things difficult for them, so I’m thinking they may yell and scream and then it will all settle into tense silence with occasional unpleasant outbursts. That is not a way to live.
What you need is an intermediary, someone to whom they will listen. Not knowing what religion your family is, try taking your confession to a priest, minister, or rabbi. Hopefully, you know of one who is kind and not judgmental (i.e., won’t say you’re going to burn in Hell). If you could find such a person, discuss it with them and then have them come to your home and have a dialogue with your family. If not a religious guide, perhaps there is someone in your family (even a distant relative) who is more open about this than the rest of them and they can serve as the intermediary. Or else a school counselor or teacher, or, if available, a social worker or family counselor.
The other thing I hope you will eventually be able to do is wean yourself off this mutual dependence on the family. Having a family can be a wonderful thing, or it can feel like a ball and chain. Sounds like, for you, it is the worse of these two options. If I were you, my goal would be to gain financial independence so that I could live on my own while still helping my family as much as possible. This way, you can be your own man. No one should have to spend their life pretending they are something they are not (sadly, it happens to millions of people all over the world). Judging by your letter, you would agree with that.
The short answer to your question is this: no, I don’t think you’ll be “mentally okay” if you hide the truth from your family forever and ever. It will drive you bonkers. So, you will need to take careful, well-planned steps to escape this prison.
I hope this helps to clarify things in your mind a bit. Please write again if you have more questions.
One thing to consider, Majora, is that you are just 18. You've got a lot of time for living in front of you. You might consider going to school, maybe just a class or two at a community college. This would give you an opportunity for socialization and possibly improving your prospects for work.
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