Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community can bring with it a world of opportunity, joy, love and expression. However, it has historically been a marginalised group and there is still, unfortunately, stigma attached to this community.
Whilst an individual’s gender preferences and/or sexual identity may not necessarily be a source of distress for them, how other people respond may be a different issue. The negativity and pain caused by social stigmas or living as a minority may cause serious mental health concerns.
Unfortunately, individuals in the LGBT+ community may find they are on the receiving end of homophobia or transphobia, discrimination, bullying, social isolation, or rejection. This can then lead to the individual experiencing an array of mental health concerns. For example:
- self-esteem and self-confidence issues
In this blog post, we look further at the issues experienced by those in the LGBT+ community and the help and support that is available.
What does LGBTQ+ mean?
The acronym LGBTQ+ loosely refers to people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer & Questioning.
The ‘plus’ refers to individuals with other sexual identities. The ‘plus’ is vital as it serves to be inclusive of other sexual identities and offers greater representation to individuals. It is important to fully capture the diversity of people within this community.
What issues may people in the LGBT+ community face?
Despite there being a rapidly growing cultural acceptance of individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, discrimination, marginalisation, and oppression still persists in society.
A person from the LGBTQ+ community may find they are discriminated against in a variety of different settings. For example: in the workplace, in social situations, in healthcare, schools, and universities, at home, in communities or, in sport. In short, there can often feel as though no space is safe.
This discrimination may present as physical or verbal abuse, bullying, derogatory remarks, or isolation. It could also present as unequal and unfair treatment, for example, delays in healthcare or fewer opportunities at work or in education.
Sometimes, this can seem subtle, leading the individual to question whether they are truly experiencing the discrimination, and this can prevent them from speaking out about it. It’s important to note that this type of discrimination is no less damaging for the person.
The person may find that they are excluded, isolated, or prevented from easily taking part in activities. Whether this is socially, in the community, at work, or in education.
Social exclusion is when a person is blocked from (or prevented from having full access to) the various rights, opportunities, and resources that are usually available to people who are considered to be ‘straight’.
Oppression is the act of subjecting a person or a group of people to unjust and unfair treatment, placing restrictions upon them. The oppressed person may be prevented from speaking, performing particular duties, engaging with activities, or may not be given the opportunity to give opinions, express themselves or display their full potential.
What help is available?
If you are experiencing any issues about your sexuality, or struggling with the social stigma of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you may find it helpful to open up to a counsellor.
Our counsellors will provide you with a safe space to process your feelings and experiences. We will be able to offer support, but most importantly, a safe space for you to be authentically yourself.
A therapist may help an individual in the LGBTQ+ community with issues such as:
- Difficulties accepting sexual preferences or gender
- Adult bullying
- Feelings of sadness, depression, hopelessness, or worry
- Suicidal thoughts
- The transitioning process
- Gender dysphoria
- Coping with oppression
Here at Hope Therapy, our trained counsellors are on hand to help with any issues you are experiencing. Our friendly and professional staff are equipped to help you effectively manage your mental health and wellbeing. Our main goal is equipping you with the tools to be able to enjoy your life to the fullest.
Owner and lead counsellor of Hope Therapy & Counselling Services. Ian draws upon various approaches including CBT, Person-Centred Counselling and Mindfulness.
To book a session with Ian or one of the Hope Team, just get in touch.