The Zen of Being Gay & Happy In a Straight World
Growing Up LGBT Where There Is No Visible Gay Community
Here’s the truth: 90% of the world is not LGBT. Those of us who identify as part of the larger gay community are a mostly invisible minority except when we choose to put ourselves out into the spotlight. For many of us, moving out of our protective corners is hard because we’ve been bombarded with messages since childhood that:
who we are, as LGBT people, is not OK.
Everywhere you look from the TV to the internet, school, work, and public settings messages are sent both quietly and very directly that “normal people” date the opposite sex; they get married, have children and live a life like what we see on TV. They don’t live life the way we do.
The problem is that those images don’t represent us!
In fact, for many of us, those very images hurt and actually injure us because we are a part of an invisible minority. We are not a part of the greater whole, but more like the ugly duckling story, we are a part of something smaller, more unique and isolating that started early in life. When we take this message in, that we’re not a part of the collective whole, we are left immersed in a world that tell us we’re different, we’re “not” normal and we’re not OK. All of this starts very early in life and unless we become a part of an openly gay community, we are left with a wound that tells us very clearly that we don’t belong.
What does this missing gay community do to our self-esteem?
Any child exposed to violence or loss at too young of an age can experience psychological and emotional harm. Common examples of this type of trauma are the death of a parent, witnessing or being the victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and ongoing emotional abuse. LGBT people experience these types of trauma more frequently than other children. This may be due to the fact that adults may sense the child is different and be uncomfortable with that feeling. Emotional abuse happens to children and teenagers when they receive ongoing implicit or explicit messages that they are
not good enough…
How does this happen to us?
One way this happens is by being told that being gay or bisexual is bad, sinful, immoral, against God etc. If this belief system goes deeply into our psyche then we start to act as if we are not good, valuable and loving people.
This often looks like:
- Continually repeating some self-destructive pattern of behavior even though you try not to
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Being unhappy and not knowing why
- Sadness and depression
- Feeling stressed out
- Difficulty maintaining meaningful relationships
- Having a sense that something is missing or wrong
- Experiencing difficulty with money, career or other maintenance activities of modern life
In the gay community we have a higher incident of these struggles.
The American Psychological Association (APA) reported that LGBT people:
- Have higher rates of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and substance use or dependence in lesbian and gay youth.
- Higher rates of recurrent major depression among gay men.
- Higher rates of anxiety, mood and substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts among people ages 15 to 54 with same-sex partners.
- Higher use of mental health services in men and women reporting same-sex partners.
LGBT People are Often Scared to Reach Out For Help. I’ve heard:
Therapists don’t understand us. How can they know what our life is like?
My point exactly! You might feel more comfortable working with someone who has also been there and knows what it is like.
There’s nothing wrong with me! Gay people live differently than straight people.
There is some truth to that but the deeper truth is that if your lifestyle choices are leaving you unhappy, lonely, making self-destructive choices like unsafe sex and drugs, or any of the other problems listed above; then you need help. You deserve better and you can have it!
What’s wrong with having sex with a lot of people? I’m not going to get pregnant. Let the straight people deal with all that.
You are right. Being gay can be one of the most freeing lifestyles there is. If you don’t choose to have children then you don’t need to work hard to support them. Your energy can go to whatever you choose. If you choose to stay single more power to you!
But if you feel empty inside and feel lonely or depressed when you are not having sex you are missing out on the rich experience of emotional intimacy in same sex relationships. You might want to read my article: Gay Relationship Advice – Emotional Intimacy Is The Key.
Why Consider Counseling or Life Coaching with another LGBT person?
We already struggle with not being understood, seen and appreciated for who we are. As a kindred spirit I stand a better chance of understanding where you are coming from and as a member of the gay community I understand and can be more helpful in finding solutions for you. The wounding in the gay community happens when we are not seen and appreciated as we are for who we are. The healing of this wound happens when we are seen and appreciated and provided effective help. A therapist, couples counselor or coach who is also a member of the gay community who has shared this experience is the best choice for helping you move through your pain and into the life you want to lead.
I’ve worked my way through many of these issues and continue to work on some of them. My own unhappiness and search for solutions is what led me to graduate school in psychology and to my ongoing studies of eastern philosophies like Buddhism. I’ve found many answers to life’s persistent problems and it’s my joy and my passion to share that with others in the LGBT community.
If you’re curious about what a life inside the gay community would feel like, we can explore that together. Healing the wounds from your past, childhood and even from the world at large does to take time. But there are shortcuts if you are connected to someone who understands the gay community and what it takes to bring your life out of the darkness and into the light.