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DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m about to enter my sopho- more year of high school, and I realize that I’m 100% a lesbian — more specifically, a closeted lesbian. I’ve been on a few dates here and there with girls, and nothing has ever progressed further. For those situations, I just told my parents I was hanging out with my friends or grabbing dinner. Over the past few months, I’ve been talking with this girl, and we have decided that we want to give dating a try. I haven’t told my par- ents because I know they will say it’s just a phase or insist I’m straight even though I am not. I’m terri- fied to tell them, but at the same time, I don’t want my girlfriend to have to lie and keep secrets — I don’t think a healthy relationship can exist like that. What should I do? — LGBTQIA+ Struggles
DEAR LGBTQIA+ STRUGGLES: You’ve got two things going on here. As a young woman, you are exploring and discovering how you want to live your life and who you want to love. That is a common activity for high-school-age people. This is the time for discovery. You are also grap- pling with what to tell your parents so that they will accept you, support you, welcome whatever partner you bring into your life and give you space to be your- self. Believe it or not, this is true for young people, whether or not they identify as queer.
As you consider coming out to your parents, think about their views on homo- sexuality. Do they generally have an inclusive mindset? Do they try to accept people for who they are, even if they don’t share their views? I agree that you should talk to them. Approach them from an assumption of inclusion. Tell them you have something important to share with them and you need their full attention and support. Tell them what you are discovering about your- self, and ask them to stand by you. It may be hard for them at first. Give them time.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I have been dating for around five months now. In that time, I’ve always shaved my legs and waxed my eyebrows because society says it makes me more attractive. But lately, I’ve gotten sick of conforming to unnatural beauty standards. I want to initiate a conversation with my boyfriend about not wanting to shave, but I’m not sure how to approach the topic. If he says he can find me attractive only when I shave, what does that say about him and our relation- ship? — Shaving Debate
DEAR SHAVING DEBATE: Rather than talking about it, why not try it out? Stop shaving your legs for a while and see how he reacts. You may be surprised to see that he barely notices. Some people are very sensitive to such changes, and for others, the change is hardly noticeable. If you feel comfortable with the “new you” who has a bit more hair, tell your boyfriend this is your choice — if it even comes up. If he has a strong negative reaction, talk about it and decide whether you will stick to your plan or make an adjustment — with shav- ing or with him.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAM- LEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and acti- vate their dreams. You can send questions to askharri- firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106