I'm a 29 year-old gay ex-Mormon who has been almost completely estranged by my extended family since coming out at 16. They live in dense Mormon communities where homosexuals have to be closeted or risk being ostracized by literally their family/friend/church communities (I lost everyone and moved out of the state, alone, at the age of 16).
I was shocked this morning to find out that I have a 16-year-old cousin who is gay and tried to kill himself a few weeks ago. Because i'm not on speaking terms with anyone outside of my immediate family—and those connections took 10 years to reestablish—the news arrived to me as gossip.
Luckily living in 2010 it wasn't hard to track him down on a social networking site. I've had a few conversations with him, but in spite of the fact that my page is covered with "It Gets Better" videos and pictures of me with various boyfriends, he's still trying to keep up a straight facade—which is the only way he can survive in Utah.
When I was his age I was the victim of a gossip torrent outing me to everyone I knew that nearly pushed me to suicide. He knows I haven't spoken to any of his family in 13 years. I don't want him to feel like this is gossip rippling through the family (which it is) or that he's been outed to his whole family (which he has).
What advice can you give me Dan? I want to respect his right to come out to me when he feels comfortable, but I also don't want to overwhelm him or wait for the next attempt. There are zero resources in his (almost 90%) Mormon community, and at least for now it won't get better.
Dan writes back:
Don't fuck around, FMB.
Get this boy's number, call him, tell him you're gay, and tell he can come and live with you, if he needs to, and that he can finish high school in a saner place, surrounded by sane people, a place where it will get better for him.
Step up, FMB, and be the hero this kid needs.—Dan
Should have thought of that—got him a ticket to come out next week. Thanks.—FMB
This, dear readers, made me cry.