When I was 14 years old, my mom took me to see a therapist for the first time. I was having a difficult time with relationships at school and with my friends. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this was due to my gender identity and sexuality. As we sat across from each other in her office, she asked me what was going on in my life and how she could help. That’s when I explained that I was gay—and that’s when everything changed. She didn’t seem surprised by this information. In fact, she told me that being queer is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about because it makes us who we are today. This experience taught me so much about myself as an LGBTQ+ person—and even now as an adult—that it has made life easier for me emotionally as well as physically.
Even though LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy is a specialized field, it can be incredibly valuable for anyone who is struggling with mental health issues. Therapy can help people deal with their problems and find solutions to their struggles. It can help them feel better about themselves and their lives in general. It’s not always easy to get through the hard times. But, therapy can provide you with much-needed support so that you have the strength to keep going when things seem impossible.
You can find a therapist that is LGBTQIA+ affirmative, a therapist that is LGBTQIA+ affirming, or a therapist who practices LGBTIQA+ affirmative therapy. The first two options usually imply the same thing: a therapist who isn’t experienced in working with LGBTQIA+ clients but wants to be. That’s why you’ll want to ensure they’re trained and willing to take on your specific needs as an LGBTQIA+ person.
Growing up LGBTQIA+ comes with its own set of challenges that only another queer person will understand. As such, it can be difficult for parents or guardians to fully grasp what their child is going through when they come out to them.
LGBTQIA+ youth are 2-3 times more likely than their straight peers to have attempted suicide and are at least twice as likely as non-LGBTQIA+ teens to experience severe depression. They also face disproportionate levels of bullying and violence—in fact, one in four LGBQ+ teens reported being physically assaulted by their peers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the past year alone. In addition, many LGBTQIA+ youth feel pressured by society’s expectations of them. So, they may choose not to come out until later in life; many parents simply don’t know what this means for their child’s mental health and well-being until after the fact.
Although it may seem like a daunting task, you should try to find an LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapist who can support and educate you. The therapeutic relationship that is formed in therapy is a safe space for exploration, growth, and healing. You will be able to feel more comfortable with your identity as well as gain insight into how to deal with discrimination if/when it arises. Additionally, there are other benefits such as feeling more confident in one’s self and feeling more empowered when identifying as an LGBTQIA+ person (or any other marginalized group).
If you’re not an LGBTQ person yourself, it can be hard to understand what it’s like being in the closet. I grew up in a small town with lots of religious people who believed that being gay was sinful and unnatural. As an adolescent coming to terms with my identity, these beliefs were internalized by me as well—and they were all lies. Being gay is not a choice; no one would choose to be discriminated against for something as natural as their sexuality.
Being gay is not a mental illness. There are plenty of other things that can cause mental health issues, but sexual orientation isn’t one of them! And being gay isn’t unnatural—even though there are more straight people than any other type of orientation out there, nature has made sure we have equal representation across the board so we can all feel comfortable with who we really are!
Being open about who you take courage—especially if your family doesn’t accept who you really are because they believe in these lies instead! But remember: You deserve happiness too (and sometimes therapy can help). If someone ever tells you that something negative about yourself isn’t true or acceptable…ask them why they think so? Then tell them why wrong-thinkers like them should stay quiet and mind their own business so we can focus on what matters most: Your health and well-being.”
I’m proud to be gay. I’m happy, and I’ve found a community that supports me. I know it’s not always easy, but there are resources out there if you need them.
I know it can feel like being LGBTQIA+ is something to hide or be ashamed of. But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore! You’re not alone, and there are lots of people who want to help you through this journey toward self-acceptance and happiness.
You can be healthy and successful no matter who you love or how they identify themselves; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
The benefits of seeing a therapist can be immense. Here are just a few of the positive things that LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy can do for you:
At the end of the day, your identity is yours to define and your sexuality is yours to explore. Your therapist should be there to help you do so in a safe environment where they can validate your experiences as an LGBTQIA+ individual. If you’re looking for a way to explore these parts of yourself, reach out to someone who will guide you through this journey with compassion and understanding of what it’s like being queer today.
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