From birth we are taught strict rules about gender roles: girls wear pink and play with dolls, boys wear blue and play sports. Any deviation from those rules is seen as “other”, and our society is quick to vilify it. There is tremendous anxiety and stress involved in curating how we are seen and perceived by those around us, and that’s before sexual attraction is even included in the mix. Society tells us that if you have male genitalia, you are supposed to act and appear a certain way, and the same applies to those born with female genitalia.
Life isn’t as simple as male or female, and there are many beautiful humans who find the otherness within themselves. Growing up with the stigma of otherness causes a lot of people to hide who they are, and it becomes easier to live a lie than to face the ridicule and inherent dangers involved in speaking their truth. A lifetime of lying takes a mental health toll, and it’s not always an easy habit to break.
In addition, members of the LGBTQ+ community are far more likely to attempt suicide, due in no small part to the lack of support they feel when they are growing up. To deal with the isolation and fear of being outed, some turn to alcohol, drugs, food, or sex to escape. Unfortunately, there is still a huge stigma in the queer community when it comes to talking about things like mental health and substance misuse, so we turn a blind eye when the red flags are waving wildly in our faces. This makes it easier for us to continue to lie to ourselves and those around us about how deep the problem is.
Yet another layer must be considered in this conversation as well, and that is how the LGBTQ+ community is often our own worst enemy. Even when public social gatherings were happening (pre-COVID), it was next to impossible to find any LGBTQ+ social events that didn’t revolve around alcohol. Gay men who do come out of the closet are presented with impossible body standards and made to feel inferior when they can’t measure up. That can lead to body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and substance misuse.
A note to my LGBTQ+ family: if you are struggling with unmet mental health needs or an unhealthy relationship with drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or codependency, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You do not have to live in fear or shame. There is help, and it doesn’t require hiding who you are. If you aren’t sure how to find help, send me a message and we will figure it out together.
You are not an abomination. You are enough. You are beautiful. Never forget that I love you, and that excludes no one.