Being part of the LGBT family means that it is harder to find a role model to look up to: while there are more LGBT faces in the media then there where five to ten years ago 98% of what we see and hear about is straight people in straight relationships.
In our day to day life too: straight is usually the norm. If you come from a deeply religious family finding your true self is even more difficult.
So it is still up to the individual to develop their own unique personae and see how to fit your sexuality in your life.
Finding yourself can be difficult or easy: it depends on a persons own mental strength, how they are raised, their family situation and their support network.
It can be a long journey that takes difficulty and courage, but most get there in the end.
The most important thing is finding people who are supportive of you whether in physical form or on the internet. The difference a friendly person in a chat-room or an understanding e-mail can make must not be underestimated.
The other important thing is inner strength: when faced with disapproval and homophobia from people around us.
5 tips to build your mental and emotional strength and identity in the LGBT world:
Build your self esteem by positive affirmations. Search books an the internet for positive quotes, poems and songs about gay life and repeat these to yourself as often as you feel necessary. Memorise them if needed.
This one might seem odd: why would you tolerate those that do not tolerate you? Well, it just makes things easier. If you are forced to put up with people at work or intolerant neighbours there is merit in the old practise of “letting the idiot talk”. As long as someone is not harming you or have it in for you personally, let people spill their bile and ignore it. Often people are so fixed in their opinions that it is a waste of time to get upset about it or to try and change them. Smile, think of something else, pity the fool and then carry on with your day.
Read and watch:
Seek out videos, books and articles of other people that describe their journey and follow the advise that speaks to you. Even if you do not care for any of the advise given, it is good to take comfort in the fact that there are others like you out there that took the same journey and made it.
As said earlier it is important to get to know other LGBT people be it in person or online. You don’t need to go to clubs or bars immediately, that can be scary. Try to find an LGBT support group, a book-club or even a fitness club. People often think they immediately have to go to clubs and sometimes this scares them: Clubs are fun, but not the only place to meet with other LGBT members.
Don’t expect too much:
People often think that once they set out on the scene and come out to their friends and family everything will be different, a new life starts and it will be wonderful. Sadly no, these sparkling coming out movies are just that: movies. It takes time to find your way in the scene, to meet someone and build a life. Also you will have to come out more then once: you will have to come out to every new person that becomes part of your life and you will continue to get into situations where you face prejudice and homophobia. If you accept these possibilities and try to make the most of the good things in life everything else will come easily.
by Dannii Cohen
Dannii Cohen is a psychologist, counsellor and author specialised in LGBT issues.