Imagine constantly trying to be something you’re not, imagine feeling alienated from every conversation about crushes that your friends have, imagine feeling like something inside you just doesn’t align. For individuals inside the LGBTQ+ community, these feelings are more than normal. This article isn’t going to be talking about gender, that is too vast a topic that I do not have adequate research or experience on, but sexuality, something that I have personally struggled with as a gay man, and the mental anguish that comes with it is all too familiar to me. Ever since you are born, you are expected to conform, every since I was a child I remember how re-enforced the norm of being straight was, as a kid when you try to express attraction towards anyone who is of the same sex you are shut down, ‘it’s just friendship’ they say. But, if you even look towards someone of the opposite gender there are marriage plans being made. In all seriousness though, this has severe effects on the schemas that develop in children. To add to that imagine questioning a major portion of what you have been taught since birth and then even if somehow you accept that you might be LGBTQ+ you have to deal with the most asked questions be something like this:
It’s even worse for other sexualities at times and when it comes to the gender spectrum it can be a living hell (for more info on this, search up gender dysphoria). Daily harassment, public humiliation, sexualities being used as insults leading to shame. All of this leads to mental and emotional burdening. I personally remember not even thinking about being anything but straight because gay or bisexual people were always seen as lesser or weaker and my sacred masculinity could not be attacked this way! All of this led to me going to really dark places of my mind when I did start questioning my sexuality. It was only when I saw two gay men on television (Glee!) that I realised how normal it was. YouTube also played a big factor as it normalised so much for me. The LGBTQ+ community also faces minority stress which is chronically high levels of stress faced by members of stigmatized minority groups. It may be caused by a number of factors, including poor social support and low socioeconomic status, but the most well understood causes of minority stress are interpersonal prejudice and discrimination. LGBTQ individuals are also almost 3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder. For LGBTQ individuals between 10-24 suicide is the leading cause for death. These facts should terrify us as a society because we are making individuals hate themselves for being themselves. However, Change is possible and it is slowly coming, we have seen a step forward in acceptance in every sphere of life for LGBTQ+ individuals. We see people working towards creating a safer space for a conversation on coming out and exploration of one’s sexuality. We have a long way to go, but at least we have started the journey.