Coming out and creating resilience in the LGBTQ+ community

25 Jun 2019

Coming out and creating resilience in the LGBTQ+ Community

It is a highly stressful situation when coming out in the LGBTQ+ community. The amount of fear of rejection is incredible as no one wants to be rejected by the ones they love. You want your voice to be heard and your feelings taken seriously. You want to be your true self and sometimes you want help when coming out, especially if you are coming out when you are in your youth and seeking guidance from adults. It’s hard to say how you feel inside, speaking out makes it real.  

Unfortunately, some parents believe that because there are conversations, education at schools and readily available information on sexuality and gender, this influences a person to become lesbian, gay, bi or transgender. What I believe comes first is usually the thought or feeling and then the seeking of information as the second stage. The young person is often seeking answers by the way they feel. It’s reported 78% of not-out LGBTQ youth have experience their families making negative comments about LGBTQ people (Human Rights Campaign 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report) . Knowing their point of view, it takes an extreme amount of courage to “out” yourself. 

Everyone just wants to be accepted and live authentically however, for the LGBTQ+ community 48% of LGBTQ youth who are out to their parents say that their families make them feel bad for being LGBTQ. Trans youth are over 2x more likely to be taunted or mocked by family for their LGBTQ identity. 73% of LGBTQ youth have experienced verbal threats because of their actual or perceived LGBTQ identity. 70% have been bullied at school because of their sexual orientation. 

With all these statistics it makes you wonder how people ever manage to come out. The talk about the need for a straight pride, it makes me wonder how much people know what is going on for LGBTQ+ community. I’ve heard people say it’s a ‘lifestyle choice’ implying there is a choice, but I believe there is no choice. If there was a choice I believe most people would choose not to be in the LGBTQ+ community as it is an incredibly harder road to deal with compared with our cis-hetrosexual counterparts.  

There is huge amount of self-acceptance and you know you do not fit societal norms. There is guilt coming from the family. You know that if you are holding hands in public that you will be stared at and people would be making comments about you.  Even worst there is a fear of being attacked, your family rejecting you, and being discriminated against in applying for job etc. For transgender community it’s even harder with research suggesting  as many as 50% of trans youth attempt suicide at some point in their lives (Human Rights Campaign 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report). 

So how can we combat all this and make the LGBTQ+ community stronger, especially the youth and helping them deal with who they are?

In my experience with helping the LGBTQ+ community, it is teaching resilience. The best definition I found for resilience is “the ability to withstand, adapt to and recover from difficult situations’ Resilience is needed as ‘coming out’ is life long and not just something you do once and that is it forever. As you go through life you meet different people whether it’s through work, social engagements, sport, hobbies etc and there always the thought of should I tell them yet? How should I reply to that question to not have to out myself? Not feeling safe to out myself, shall I just act straight? 

We also cannot control people responses to us but what we can control is whether we let it affect us.  One insight I offer is whether people are on the cause or effect side in their life.  What I mean by this, is if you are on the effect side of life you generally are a blamer and full of excuses because something external has stopped you getting where you want to be.  For example, you blame the traffic for being late or you haven’t found love because of your parents did not accept you for being gay. You are pointing the blame out to the world but as soon as you point outwards how many fingers do you have pointing back you? 

Cause on the other hand, are the people that take responsibility in all aspect of their lives. As soon as you accept responsibility, you have control in your life and know that there are choices.  For example, being late for work instead of blaming the traffic, you accept you could of left earlier, you have the gained back the control.  Taking responsibility for not finding love gives puts you in a resourceful state. For example, you come up with the fact that you haven’t been out for a while or you re-examine who you are surrounding yourself with. This way of thinking creates solutions. 

The next tool I use is reframing. These are the questions we ask ourselves. Are the questions we are asking useful and moving us move forward towards a positive step or our questions creating roadblocks?  For example, you are wanting to come out to your parents.  You are asking yourself questions like, what if they kick me out? What if they won’t love me?  

A resourceful question could be ‘given the resources I’ve got now, what can I plan for and what support do I have around me in order to handle this situation effectively?

This question helps us to ‘reframe’ the situation. To position it in a more resourceful, useful way.

Lastly changing our limiting beliefs.  These are the beliefs that are holding you back and are not letting the real you surface.  These limiting beliefs are subconscious controlling our everyday habits.  Limiting beliefs are voices in your head or out loud, saying you are not good enough, you are not normal and so on.  These are the stories we are telling ourselves causing us to feel trapped and disempowered.  What if I could tell you, these can change and be replaced by produce positive empowering beliefs. Imagine what you would look like and the LGBTQ+ community would like, if we felt positive about being ourselves. How we can love ourselves and not feel ashamed? Negative comments from others no longer impacting us emotionally. Instead feeling strong, worthy and ourselves.

To connect with Brittany for a session around this please click here