Try calling a gay hotline. Most major cities have one. You may
want to call from a phone booth for privacy. They will let you
talk about your feelings and will direct you to organizations that
help gay people. There may even be a gay youth group in your area.
Some helpful resources are listed on the back of this brochure,
including a toll-free national hotline.
Remember, gay people are out there, wherever you are. Trust
your instincts. Sooner or later you will meet someone who feels
some of the same things you do.
"When I first met another gay person, I felt
excited, anxious, nervous and happy. There was an indescribable
relief to know that I was not alone, that there was someone else
like me. It was also intimidating, not knowing what to expect, but
I quickly loosened up and felt relaxed" -- Nathan, age 18.
"When I first made contact with another gay man, I felt a
tremendous relief. I couldn't believe I had made a connection. I
felt happy but also scared. I felt that I could do or say anything
and not worry about it"--Alan, age 19.
"When I first met another gay person, it was incredible,
refreshing, reassuring, touching, awesome, and wonderful"--James,
Will I ever have sex?
Naturally, you think about finding an outlet for your
sexual feelings. Becoming a healthy sexual person is part of the
coming out process. You may be scared at the prospect of having
sex. This is normal for everyone. No one should start having sex
until they are ready. Until then, you may choose to masturbate or
Sex should only happen between mature individuals who care
about each other. You will know when the time is right.
We all choose to have sex in different ways, whether we are
gay or straight. Gay men choose from a wide range of sexual
practices, including masturbation (either alone or with another
person), oral sex, anal intercourse, kissing, hugging, massage,
wrestling, holding hands, cuddling or anything else that appeals
to both partners. You are in complete control over what you do
sexually and with whom.
What about AIDS?
All sexually active people need to be aware of AIDS as well
as other sexually transmitted diseases. Being gay does not give
you AIDS, but certain sexual practices and certain drug use
behaviors can put you at risk for catching the virus that causes
AIDS. AIDS is incurable, but is preventable.
Here's how to reduce your risk of getting AIDS:
Do not shoot up drugs. Sharing needles is the most dangerous
behavior in terms of getting AIDS.
Avoid anal intercourse or other direct anal contact. Anal
intercourse transmits the virus very efficiently. If you do engage
in anal sex, use a condom every time.
Use condoms whenever you engage in anal or oral sex (or
vaginal sex if you have sex with women). You should choose latex
condoms that are fresh and undamaged. Store them away from heat
(your wallet is not a good pl ace to keep them). Use a condom only
once. Try to choose condoms with "reservoir tips", and be sure to
squeeze out the air from the tip as you put it on. Hold on to the
condom as you remove your penis; sometimes they slip off after
Choose sexual activities that do not involve intercourse:
hugging, kissing, talking, massaging, wrestling or masturbating
(on unbroken skin).
Learning to like yourself
"I had to reject a lot of negative heterosexual and
religious programming that made me feel lousy about myself as a
gay person. I began to like myself by meeting other gay people and
going to a gay support group. After that I was content with
myself"--Bill, age 18.
"My aunt is a lesbian, and she made it clear to me, before I even
knew I was gay, that being gay was OK"--Antonio, age 16.
"I accepted the facts, which means that I don't deny being gay and
I don't pretend to be someone I'm not"--Alan, age 19.
It's not easy to discover that you are gay. Our society makes
it very clear what it thinks of gay people. We all hear the
terrible jokes, the hurtful stereotypes and the wrong ideas that
circulate about gay people. People tend to hate or fear what they
don't understand. Some people hate lesbians and gay men. Many
people are uncomfortable being around lesbians and gay men.
It's no wonder that you might choose to hide your gay feelings
from others. You might even be tempted to hide them from
You may wonder if you are normal. Perhaps you worry about
people finding out about you. Maybe you avoid other kids who might
be gay because of what people will think. Working this hard to
conceal your thoughts and feelings is called being in the closet.
It is a painful and lonely place to be, even if you stay there in
order to survive.
It takes a lot of energy to deny your feelings, and it can be
costly. You may have tried using alcohol or other drugs to numb
yourself against these thoughts. You may have considered suicide.
If so, please consult the phone book for the Samaritans or other
hotline. There are alternatives to denying your very valuable
feelings. Check out the resources listed on the back of this
Who should I tell?
"I only tell other people that I'm gay if I've
known them for a long time and if they are accepting and tolerant.
I think it's important that they know about this special part of
me"--Bill, age 18.
"Since I'm normal, I don't have to hide how I feel. But you should
make sure that you are comfortable with your preference before you
blurt it out to just anyone"--Nathan, age 19.
"I tell people that I'm gay if I know that they won't reject me,
will accept me for what I am, and won't try to 'straighten' me
out. I test them, I suppose, then I judge if I want to risk
telling them"--James, age 17.
More and more gay kids are learning to feel better about
themselves. As you start to listen to your deepest feelings and
learn more about what it means to be gay you will begin to be
comfortable with your sexuality. This is the process called coming
The first step in coming out is to tell yourself that you are
gay and say, "That's OK." Later you may want to tell someone
else--someone you trust to be understanding and sympathetic. You
might choose a friend or an adult. You will probably want to meet
other gay kids for friendship or a more intimate relationship.
Some gay kids are able to come out to their families. You need to
decide whether or not to tell your family, and to choose the right
time. Lots of people, including parents, simply don't understand
gay people and are difficult to come out to. In the beginning, be
cautious about whom you tell.
But it is crucial to be honest with yourself. Just as
self-denial costs you, coming out pays off. Most kids who accept
their sexuality say they feel calmer, happier and more
"No matter what people say, you are normal. God created
you, and you were made in this [sic] image. If you are
non-religious, you were born and you have a purpose, and being gay
is only part of it"--Nathan, age 19.
"Stand up for what you believe in, and don't listen to what
hatemongers have to say. Stay proud and confident"--James, age
One Teenager in Ten: Writings by Gay and Lesbian Youth, ed.
Ann Heron, Alyson Publications, 40 Plympton Street, Boston, MA
Young, Gay and Proud, a resource book for gay and lesbian youth,
also published by Alyson Publications.
Beyond Acceptance: Parents of Lesbian and Gay Children Talk About
Their Experiences, McAllister, Wirth and Wirth, Prentice-Hall,
GLB Teen Hotline: 1-800-347-TEEN(Weekend Nights Only)
U.S. Public Health Service AIDS Hotline: 1-800-342-2437 (1-800-342-AIDS).
National Runaway Switchboard: 1-800-621-4000.
Local Gay Organizations
Check the white pages of your telephone book under "gay" or
"lesbian." Especially look for hotlines, counseling agencies and
This brochure was written by Kevin Cranston and Cooper
Thompson, with help from members of BAGLY, Boston Area Gay and
Produced and distributed by The Campaign to End Homophobia, a
network of people who work to end homophobia through information
sharing and education.
Organizations and individuals are free to reprint and distribute
this brochure with written permission from The Campaign to End
Homophobia. Write to us at P.O. Box 819, Cambridge, MA 02139.
Contributions to the Campaign, to defray the costs of developing
and distributing this material, are welcome.