Many individuals who identify as queer experience stigma, prejudice, and/or discrimination because of their sexuality.

According to minority stress and identity development theories, these experiences can contribute to difficulties with self-acceptance of sexuality. Lower self-acceptance is considered a risk factor for adverse mental health outcomes.

Developing a healthy sense of sense and figuring out how we fit into society is a fundamental stage, according to developmental psychologists.

Identity covers many aspects, though most fit under the umbrella question of “Who am I?” For some people, coming to terms with who they are and forming a positive sense of identity can be challenging. This is especially true when who they are is not similar to those around them, or if they feel their true selves would not be accepted by those close to them.

For individuals who identify as queer are questioning this facet of their personality, establishing a positive sense of self can sometimes be difficult and confronting. While this is not always the case (some LGBT people have been secure in their sexual or gender identities for a long time, and have many supportive people around them who understand and appreciate them for exactly who they are), it is unfortunately common that LGBT people struggle with developing a positive sense of self.

A path to develop a healthy LGBT identity

Educate yourself

This applies to all of us, whether or not we identify as LGBT. Understanding that there is no such thing as “normal” and that the world is rich and interesting because we are all different, is vital to be able to accept ourselves and each other for all that we are.
Throughout history and in all different cultures, people have loved other people, regardless of gender, and have felt they are different sex to the gender they were assigned at birth. In some cultures, this has been revered, and in others, it has been stigmatized.
Being gay or transexual is not a choice, and it’s not something a person can “catch” or become due to influences around them. If this were the case, then people who were raised and educated purely by heterosexual and non-trans people would not be LGBT, which is not true.

Challenge homophobia, transphobia and all prejudice

Sometimes people can be unaware that they’re being offensive, while others are just plain rude and disrespectful. Either way, if you believe respecting all beings is important, then challenge prejudice when you hear it.

As well as external prejudice, some LGBT individuals experience internal homophobia or transphobia. This is when LGBT people absorb social comments they may have heard against the LGBT community, and as a result have feelings of guilt, confusion and a sense they are not “normal’. These feelings often lead to depression and low self-esteem, so must be challenged. Challenging thoughts can be as simple as questioning where the thoughts originate from, and asking yourself whether this thought is helping you or hurting you.

Look for role models and make links with support groups
Reading about others’ experiences can be helpful, especially when they have overcome difficulties and come to accept themselves. Seeing positive images of LGBT communities can also be really helpful in building a positive understanding of diversity and acceptance. Great books as “God, A Lesbian and the Space in Between”, written by Michelle Johns could really help you to find the heart of God.

When and if to ‘come out’

Coming out, that is, telling others about your sexual or gender identity, should only happen when you are comfortable with people knowing, and when you have reached some level of self-acceptance and self-awareness. “Outing” people, which is when others share your identity with others without your permission, is never OK.

Coming out is a very personal decision. Often there is fear and stress around this, as people worry about discrimination, rejection, disapproval, and even violence. Given this, it is important that you come out only when you want to, and that you do it in your own way. This might mean coming out in stages - so telling some people in your life and not others, and testing how you feel about sharing. The important thing is to do what feels right for you.

Author's Bio: 

Torsi is a professional blogger.