Navigating Life’s Ups and Downs for Young People Identifying with LGBTIQA+ Identities
Life can throw every one of us curve balls. It is human, and completely normal at different points in time to feel this stress manifest in different aspects of our wellbeing; whether that be in our nervous system, emotions, lifestyle coping patterns, and the way that we show up in our relationships and other external areas like education or work.
For young people who don’t conform to the confines of a society that views heterosexuality as the norm, or for those who are trans or gender diverse, this stress can be magnified and experiences such as these are common: problematic family relationships, feeling (and being) unsafe within the community, increased incidence for homelessness, and ongoing exposure to homophobic and transphobic responses in society and on social networks, leading to mental health issues. The stresses of reflecting on who they are, and who might be safe to disclose this to, as well as the ongoing recognition that coming out is something that occurs every single day and is not a one-off event.
There is a lack of education in most schools, and in the community about experiences for LGBTIQA+ young people, especially when it comes to general discussions regarding personal development, navigating relationships and sex education. This makes it hard for young people to identify in who they truly might be and difficult to feel acceptance and belonging.
Below we’ve listed a number of ways to help navigate the ups and downs of life as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community; along with helpful resources, strategies and practical activities you can do to help you when life gets a little overwhelming.
1. Recognise your unique qualities and strengths as an individual
Celebrate your uniqueness and know that every single person has this. Remember that it is impossible for anyone to be liked by everyone; don’t bend and fold yourself to try and please others, and instead be true to who you are. This may leave you feeling vulnerable but making yourself happy is more important than fitting into a box to please others. If you are concerned about receiving the approval of someone, question whether this is a person you truly value and admire to receive feedback from.
2. Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
Boundaries are how we can respect and honour ourselves, whilst still being able to remain open and receptive to others. Boundaries can extend across many areas of relationships with others, including:
- Physical boundaries- Example, whether you feel comfortable hugging or kissing someone on the cheek and knowing it’s okay for you to create physical distance if needed. Saying no when you need or want to.
- Conversational boundaries- Setting boundaries related to your identity if a person or conversation is having a negative psychological impact on you.
- Time boundaries- Deciding how much of the day you want to be ‘available’ via your mobile phone and when you might like to put it away to reenergise (guilt free).
- Emotional boundaries- Deciding when, who with and how much to share emotions. Asking a friend if now a good time is to hold some emotional space for you to share an issue and reflecting on the trust/time invested in that friendship to how much is shared of yourself.
Remember: 1. Define the desired boundary 2. Communicate the desired need 3. Express why it is important and potential consequences (if this continues to be disregarded).
Check out this worksheet: Boundaries Info Sheet
3. This Shall Pass
Emotions are like waves that rise, peak and fall. It is human and normal to feel overwhelmed at different points of time and many young people feel this in coming to terms with their identity (you are not alone). Ways to get through and manager overwhelming feelings:
- ‘Drop the anchor’ and connect with the present moment. Learn how to do it in this quick one-minute video or with this 2-minute audio.
- Practice this 1-minute mindfulness meditation.
- Do some exercise: walking, running, dancing, yoga……
- Seek further support if you need to from Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW who offer specialised services for young people identifying as LGBTIQA+ aged 12-25 including support for housing, mental health, counselling, and social support and/or Youth Services at The Gender Centre INC. If you are 18 or under and live, work, study or hangout in the Bayside, Georges River or Sutherland areas of Sydney, contact us at 2Connect or firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Celebrate YOU! LGBTIQA+ Resources
LGBTIQA+ Themed Books:
- None of the Above by I.W Gregorio. A story about a teenager who discovers that they are intersex.
- Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. A story about finding and losing love.
- Let’s Talk about Love by Claire Kann . A story about self-discovery and identity.
- It’s Not Like it’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura. A story about a girl who has feelings for another girl.
- We are Everywhere By Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown. A rich, empowering photographic history of the Queer Liberation Movement tracing back to ninetieth-century Europe.
- Stonewall by Martin Duberman. Activist Martin Duberman’s revolutionary book shares the LGBTQ struggle for rights, which highlights the significance and importance of today’s pride marches.
LGBTIA+ Pride Songs:
- Minus18 Pride Song
- Born This Way- Lady Gaga
- Same Love- Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
- Diana Ross – I’m coming out
- George Michael- Freedom
- Groove is in the Heart- Deee-Lite
Check out a free Ted Talk about belonging, connection and worthiness by Dr Brene Brown “The power of vulnerability”. Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability | TED Talk
How 2Connect Can Help
About the Author
Georgia is a Social Worker and advocate for improved LGBTIQA+ support services and education. She shares some of her personal journey below.
“As a strong, resilient, proud member of the community out on the other side, I believe that not only is there hope for positive and necessary change, but that life can be absolutely amazing, productive and fulfilling, in having the courage and bravery to claim and be who you truly are. I highlight the improvement in emotional and physical wellbeing through just starting this journey, even in the smallest of steps.”