Youth face challenges related to physical and emotional health care and for Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender, gender nonconforming and the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community these challenges are sometimes even harder and more unique . Many of the issues are interrelated, impacting one another, with a common theme of coping in a potentially hostile, homophobic, anti-LGBTQ world. The following identifies three unique challenges that LGBT+ youth and young adults should be aware. By actively being aware of these concerns, you can find ways to take care of yourself both physical and mentally.
1. COMING OUT: The “coming out process” speaks to the experiences of many, but not all, LGBTQ+ people as they discover, accept, explore, and disclose to others their sexual orientation or gender identity. Understanding and accepting your own sexual and gender identity is a step in the right direction to being proud of who you are. There is no one correct way or single process of coming out – in fact, some LGBTQ people do not come out at all and that’s ok also. The process is unique for each individual, and every coming-out-related decision is a personal choice and is your choice alone and nobody else’s. Many queer youth come out long before they get to college and others as early as 3 or 4, others will never come out. LGBTQ youth experience much of their identity exploration and development in college years, and even for those who first came out much earlier, their coming out process continues through college life. Students face whether or not to out themselves to their family, friends, roommates, classmates, teammates, faculty, and staff. Over time, these now young adults realize that coming out is an ongoing process of decision-making, with a situation-by-situation assessment of risks versus benefits of publicly identifying oneself. But above all else “coming out” could be the necessary step to self-acceptance just remember to do it in your own time, not to let anyone censor who you are or try to make you come out if you are not ready.
2. HEALING FROM OPPRESSION: The experience of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, violence, and hate can lead to problems in physical and mental health. Victimization can take away an LGBTQ persons sense of trust, safety, and security in the world; As previously mentioned, coming out (or not) strategies and dealing with oppression can add tremendous stress to an LGBTQ student’s already stressful college life. Research suggests that queer people may literally embody these stresses, leading to higher rates of anxiety and depression. Through coming out, accepting yourself, and reaching out for support from family, peers, and professions, you can learn to cope effectively with stress. Studies have shown that family support or a supportive friend and self-acceptance reduce the impact of anti-LGBTQ abuse on anxiety and depression. Thus, helping you to live the life and being the person and living the life you were born to live.
3.SURVIVING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, PLANS, OR ATTEMPTS: Decades of research have consistently documented a link between LGBTQ young people and suicide (thoughts, plans, and/or attempts). I personally have struggled with thoughts, plans, and even attempts of suicided and sometimes to this day I still struggle with suicidal thoughts but not actions. The most impotent thing you can for yourself and others is to know the warning signs of suicided and to get help for yourself or someone else as soon as possible. Learning the warning signs of suicide is a huge part of preventing a crisis. Although emotional ups and downs are normal, sometimes a person who is suicidal gives certain signs or hints that something is wrong. Knowing these major warning signs can help you connect someone you care about to support if they need it - even if that person is yourself. Below is a list of some of the most common ones and a great resource if you need it:
Have you or someone you know felt...?
Do you or someone you know...?
Not care about their future: “It won’t matter soon anyway.”
Put themselves down - and think they deserve it: “I don’t deserve to live. I suck.”
Express hopelessness: “Things will never get better for me.”
Say goodbye to important people: “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had. I’ll miss you.”
Have a specific plan for suicide: “I’ve thought about how I’d do it.”
Talk about feeling suicidal: “Life is so hard. Lately I’ve felt like ending it all.”
Have you or someone you know been...?
Using drugs or alcohol more than usual
Acting differently than usual
Giving away their most valuable possessions
Losing interest in their favorite things to do
Admiring people who have died by suicide
Planning for death by writing a will or letter
Eating or sleeping more or less than usual
Feeling more sick, tired or achy than usual
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you are not alone. The Trevor Project; an American non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community is ready to help you 24/7 on the Trevor Lifeline (866-488-7386) - that means all day and night, every weekend, each holiday, and beyond. If you recognize these signs in someone you know, encourage them to ask for help. If they need support, empower them to call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386 to talk with a trained volunteer counselor. Trevor is there 24/7 - that means all day and night, every weekend, and every holiday
Conclusion: Always remember that just because things might look bad at the time that it does not mean that it won't get better. There will always be someone who loves you even if they don't know. I'm here to tell you, never give up on life, never let people define you or change you. You were born perfect just the way you are, and if you or someone you know is struggling reach out ask for help, it could just save a life.
Roddy Biggs ❤️💛💚💙💜
Pronouns | He/ Him/ His or They
East TN Leader | GLSEN Tennessee
Youth Ambassador | Human Rights Campaign
Teen Talk Hotline | Contributor