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Exploring Your LGBTQ+ Identity: Tips and Resources for Finding Support and Acceptance

  • 5 min read

Shop enby is comprised of three individuals who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, but each of us come from separate backgrounds and are at different parts of our trans/queer journeys. Personally, we understand that realizing your sexual orientation or gender identity can be a confusing and potentially difficult experience. We want to remind you that you are not alone, there is no correct way to go about this, there's no such thing as too late or old, and that there are resources available to support you.

Here are some steps you can take if you need support with your LGBTQ+ identity:

  1. Educate yourself:

    One of the best ways to feel more comfortable and confident in your identity is to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and the issues it faces. Things to search for can begin with learning about our history and struggles in the United States and globally. Hot keywords could be and are not limited to: "Marsha P. Johnson", "Stonewall Riots 1969", "Gay and Trans Rights".  This can help you feel more connected to others who are going through similar experiences and give you a better understanding of what it means to be LGBTQ+. The library is also a great resource for this information and depending on where you live, might even have section dedicated to us!

    It is also very affirming to learn about the different facets of what it means to be LGBTQ+. Doing this research can help you figure out where you feel the most validated and aligned. For example, one of our first times reading a Wikipedia article on what "pan sexuality" is was over a decade ago was very enlightening! *read here*

    Get in the know about what is happening now in the community. Follow accounts of other queer people and businesses on IG, stay up-to-date on different laws and rights changing around the country, watch tiktoks and queer TV. Here are some places to get LGBT+ news and gossip, please feel free to list more in the comments:

  2. Talk to someone you trust:

    It can be helpful to talk to someone about your feelings and concerns, but we also understand that trusting someone with this information and essentially coming out is hard! Try confiding in a trusted friend, teacher at you school (arts, music, theater, or English teachers are classic go-to's), a family member (if you think they would be receptive), or a professional counselor. Finding someone who you can confide in and who will listen to you without judging can be incredibly supportive. If you live in a community where this type of support isn't accessible, the internet has existed as a safe haven and virtual community for queer people for a long time. Even having an internet friend that you can vent, discuss, and brainstorm with can be a really helpful release. You need and deserve community, and a community exists out there for you--- you just need to find it!

    If you don't know where or how to make queer friends IRL/Virtually here are some tips:

    -look up to see if there is a local queer/LGBTQ+ center and attend and/or volunteer for some of their events. *find your local q center here*

    -find the queer housing and event facebook groups for your town or city (they are usually closed groups for safety concerns, but are typically accepting of new members)

    -go to that one cafe or bar with the gay/trans flag hanging out front. if you go by yourself, try to look hot and mysterious, flirt a little and get to know the scene. try to google something along the lines of "queer establishments in __(city)___, __(state)___" and see what comes up, take a chance and attend!

    -go to drag shows, queer dance parties, and events! now, this is only if you feel safe, comfortable and if you're able to access this, but seriously go and meet some queens! throw some one's! throw your ass around some queers! and have fun. Don't know where to find said events? Refer to the local queer FB group suggestion above and do some asking around.

  3. Seek out LGBTQ+ resources:

    There are many resources available to help you navigate your LGBTQ+ identity, including support groups, LGBTQ+ centers, and online communities. These resources can provide a safe and supportive space for you to connect with others, share your experiences, and get the support you need.

    *Here is a link to the PFLAG Resource directory*
    *Here is a link to the GLAAD LGBTQ+ resource list*
    *Here is a link to resources for elder LGBTQ+ folks*

  4. Take care of yourself:

    It's important to prioritize your mental and emotional health as you explore your identity. Make sure to take time for self-care and do things that bring you joy and relaxation. Just because you are queer doesn't mean you can't do the same things you already know and love. The gayest most queer thing you can do is be yourself. We have found that the closer we get to understanding and validating our identities and experiences has been in direct correlation with our mental health. Who you are is valid and deserves to be here.

  5. Be patient with yourself:

    It's okay if you need time to process your feelings and come to terms with your identity. Also, your identity can shift and change over time! Just because you use one set of pronouns now, does not mean you're committed to them for life-- let yourself be free and use what feels good to you as it feels good to you. We want to give you permission to take your time -- we understand the frustration and urgency involved in transitioning, being seen as you want to be seen, and having the queer experiences you crave, but these things don't necessarily happen over night (and that is ok). It's a journey, and it's important to be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time and space to explore and understand your identity.

  6. Remember that you are not alone:

    It can be easy to feel isolated and alone when you are struggling with your LGBTQ+ identity, but it's important to remember that you are not the only one going through this experience. There are countless others who have faced similar challenges and come out on the other side stronger and more confident in themselves. If you are feeling alone and are struggling with feelings and thoughts of self harm or more, please reach out a trusted friend or the crisis hotline such as the following:

    -Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
    -The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)
    -National AIDS Hotline (800) 342-AIDS / (800) 344-7432 (Spanish) / (800) 243-7889 (TDD)

    *More support hotline resources can be found here*

  7. Don't be afraid to seek professional help:

    If you are struggling with your LGBTQ+ identity and are having a hard time coping, it may be helpful to seek out the assistance of a mental health professional. A counselor or therapist can provide a safe and supportive space for you to explore your feelings and offer guidance and support as you navigate this process.

Your identity belongs to you, and you alone -- no one else can tell you how and who you are, we would love to celebrate and accept you as you are and how you want to be. Educate yourself, talk to someone you trust, seek out LGBTQ+ resources, take care of yourself, be patient with yourself, and remember that you are not alone. If you are struggling, don't be afraid to seek professional help. You are strong and capable of handling this, and you will come out on the other side more confident and self-assured.

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