Imagine you’re a girl, and you slowly realize you’re into girls, not guys… The prince charming that you’ve been waiting for since you were basically 5, turns out to be princess charming! Imagine you find out you’re not attracted to anyone… What then? Imagine even though you were born a girl, but you feel more comfortable expressing yourself different than what is generally termed feminine. Now imagine not being accepted but being hated, abused and denied opportunities. How does it feel? Being termed dangerous and an outcast, just because you’re different than what society thinks is ‘normal’? How would it affect you dealing with all the brainwashing and judgement each day, every day?

The members of the LGBTQ+ community experience unacceptable and unethical discrimination due to their sexual orientations and gender identities. They often internalize the negative messages which become beliefs that sometimes fester and develop a guilt about who they are. It’s not just the discrimination queer people have to go through but the constant reminder of how little their humanity means to the society which adversely affects their physical, emotional and mental well being. Queer people who suffer from mental health issues, also have to face a lot of stigma in seeking help from therapy and outside sources.

Although we say we have a come a long way, it is imperative that we realize that we have not. Even the government has recognized same sex partnerships, but society still lives with a stigma and stereotype of heteronormative, binary roles. We may have made technical advances, but people stick to their narrow mindedness. We continue the cycle of discrimination and hate in different ways, new ways.

Since early childhood we are made to look at the world in a certain way. Everything from the parents, to school, to cinema and even books. The classic male and female protagonists being the center of everything.Media mostly portrays that only a man and woman can fall in love, only they can be an acceptable couple. Anything else is trashed and deemed inappropriate. When they finally do learn about it, they tend to misinterpret and follow in the footsteps of what society has taught them. Though, they cannot be blamed, since this thinking has been ingrained in them. This cannot be allowed to go on further. Educating children from a young age is a must.

Many in the LGBT+ community face discrimination, prejudice, harassment, denial of human rights and rejection from family. There is strong evidence that members of this community are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions — especially depression and anxiety disorders. LGBT+ adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition.

Some of the basic factors that lead to deterioration of mental health among the community are:

Rejection: The community often faces difficulty in coming out even to close friends or family members, this occurs because of the fear of rejection and abandonment from people who are close. Apart from close ones, they are often shamed in schools or other social institutes. This may also lead to homelessness.

Phobia:Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia, bullying and feeling identity-based shame often results in mental trauma that leave bruises on their confidence.The LGBT+ community faces many forms of discrimination, including: labeling, stereotyping, denial of opportunities or access, and verbal, mental and physical abuse. They are one of the most targeted communities by perpetrators of hate crimes in the country. 

Discrimination can contribute to a significantly heightened risk for PTSD among individuals in the LGBTQI community compared to those who identify as heterosexual and cisgender. 

Lack of Safe Spaces to talk: Many people in this community struggle in silence — and face worse health outcomes as a result.

The LGBT+ population is at a higher risk than the heterosexual, cisgender population for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

High school students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers.

Lack of Openness and Healthy Coping Mechanisms:Many people use substances as a coping mechanism and since the people in the community suffer more, they are likely to enter the world of drugs and other harmful consumption. LGBT+ adults are nearly twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a substance use disorder. Transgender individuals are almost four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience a substance use disorder. Illicit drug use is significantly higher in high school-aged youth who identify as LGBT+ or are unsure of their identity, compared to their heterosexual peers. 

People don’t tend to realize that it doesn’t matter that who someone loves. A girl loving a girl is okay. It doesn’t make them less of a person. They don’t see how adversely their actions affect the LGBT+ community. It’s high time that the world evolves from these narrow minded, one track ideas and create a better space for everyone. How can you do that? Well, you can start by being a better ally, and introducing a concept known as ‘Queer Eye for the World’.

To have a ‘queer eye for the world’ around you is the first step in ensuring worldwide mental wellbeing. If there is no societal filter added to a child’s vision, it not only encourages the child to have an accepting attitude towards the various diversities, but also helps young hearts to associate themselves somewhere in the frame as proud allies.

Having support in life is immensely important to a person’s mental health and overall well-being. The Allies of the LGBT+ are people who are cis-hetand recognize members of the community as equals, real and human. They support equal human rights, gender equality, and queer social movements. Anyone can be an ally and provide support and nurturance to their friends, family and other community members.

The role of allies is to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, acknowledge the impact of historical prejudice upon mental health and try to protect the community from society’s hatred. Allies understand that queer people have a right to be true to themselves, express their gender identity and sexual orientations and live proud lives as equals in the society. It’s important for everyone to recognize the strength and courage required for the members of the LGBT+ community to stand up in the face of discrimination. It’s also important to acknowledge the enduring capacity for people to heal from the wounds of prejudice because change is always possible.

To be good allies to the LGBT+ community takes small efforts and contributions from your end. The practice of being supportive allies starts with using correct pronouns for people. If you’re unsure about someone’s gender identity, prefer using “them” instead of she/her or he/him. This would save the person from the possible explanation they would have to give to you which they might not be very comfortable with. Similar to this is using gender-neutral-terms in everyday conversations to break gender barriers and gender roles fixed by the society. Here’s a list of gender-neutral-terms that we should consider using for all gender identities:

policeman/ policewomanpolice
businessman/businesswomanBusiness person
maiden namefamily name

As cisgender allies, it is important that we mention our pronouns in our social media bios. Most transgender and non-binary people put up their pronouns on their socials to avoid being misgendered online. But when ONLY queer people do this, they become more vulnerable of getting targeted and being harassed online which affects their mental health to a great extent. By placing our pronouns as heterosexuals, we normalize the practice and take away power from bullies to specifically harass queer people. Just like sharing your name, sharing your pronouns lets people know what you prefer to be referred to as. It’s the bare minimum you can do to make queer people feel safe and comfortable.

It is also important for us to amplify the voices of the LGBT+ community. We should pass the mic to queer people and not try to outshine them. It’s important that we, as cisgender allies, do not invalidate the struggles of the queer people or make them about ourselves. The sweetest fruit to mental health is to constantly support, validate and help. Normalize all genders which seem ‘abnormal’ to the society. Normalize men falling in love with men. Normalize women falling in love with women. Love has no gender.

Support your queer artist friends. Support their businesses, promote their work, help them financially if needed. Break gender barriers, break the cis-het stereotypes.

Happy allyship ahead!

1 Comment

Dear Diary, | BEYOND MEDS · 21 September 2021 at 3:32 pm

[…] Homosexuality wasn’t a foreign concept to me. Bisexuality was.  […]

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