Given recent events in Florida, with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, it was about time to talk about dealing with those who do not accept you. So, while past studies have indicated that acceptance of your child’s identity can lead to better outcomes in mental health, school, or drug use and abuse, it is clear that there are still those out there that will struggle to accept us for who we are. Lack of acceptance has led LBGTQ+ folks to be at a higher likelihood for suicide and suicide attempts, depression, use of illegal drugs, and to have unprotected sex. Many studies also indicate that sometimes parental or family rejection is a major cause.
We understand that dealing with his lack of acceptance and support can be really hard and honestly, the fear of LGBTQ+ young people is often that their family won’t love or accept them if they come out. While some of us are very lucky to have those kinds of families that are ok with our sexuality, we are all not born with that luxury.
There are a few tips that can help you (and maybe your parents/families too) to ensure that you have at least some healthy and supportive environment around you.
1. Give them time. Honestly, if you are just coming out. Sometimes, it can come as a huge shock to parents/families and they might react negatively at first. Sometimes they will come around. Remember how to look it took you to realize and accept you were gay, nonbinary, or trans? I know it was rough and confusing at first, but eventually, you realized “Yeah, this is who I am.” They need that time to adjust and deal with that also. You can feel free to provide resources to groups for parents/families of LGBTQ+ people or do their own research with you.
2. Know when to push and when to back off. Set boundaries and do not accept cruelty. Sometimes it’s worth just agreeing to disagree and while that might make you feel like you’re always having to be the bigger person (I know, being the bigger person with your parents? That’s ROUGH.) Practice some coping skills that will keep you calm, cool, and collected if they make homophobic comments or misgender you. Basically, come up with responses, and plans, and learn your triggers before entering conversations with your family/parents. And if you’re in a situation where you can just safely walk away and come back when they will not be cruel or hurtful: walk away.
3. Identify your allies in and out of your family. Find those in your family and outside of your family that you know will be your allies whether it’s your cool aunt or cousin, a close family friend, or your local LGBTQ+ community (if you’re in South Florida check out https://www.sunserve.org/). Remember that there are people who do love and accept you for who you are. There are many groups and housing for you if you ever need to escape. It’s important to have someone at your side that can help you back you up can be helpful even if you’re just making stupid jokes about your family in your group chat that night.
4. Prioritize your mental health. Remember that dealing with a lack of acceptance can be mentally and physically draining. Make sure you’re someone who is not also riddling your mind with negative thoughts. Treat yourself with compassion and love. You did not choose this and none of this is your fault. It might be wise to attempt to reach out to a professional for help dealing with any mental health issues that could be occurring. Tiny tip: Our office is LGBTQ+ friendly!
5. Distance yourself from your family. Lastly, it might be probable that you just need to distance yourself from your family. Ultimately, this is your decision and we know that this decision isn’t for everybody, but it’s ok to distance yourself if you feel it’s necessary.
There is only so much disrespect, cruelty, and homophobia a person can take. With this in mind, it is important to have a game plan for what happens if this is your decision. Discussing this with a therapist, trusted family member or even a community center like SunServe might be helpful in getting the right information you need in order to help you with this or any other issues stated above.
For more tips, please check out our other tips https://www.plantationcounseling.com/blog. You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services.