I wrote this article looking back at the age of 10, but I have no words to describe how I can understand who I was then. I differentiate between who I am and who I was, because my strange personality has never formed a single block: it is a combination of many aspects of my identity, which I express in the way I interact with the world around me.
I realized this too late in my life.
As a chubby, weird kid, I struggled to find my place on earth and left myself out. I didn’t have the keys needed to understand myself better, and I didn’t know any adults on my team who had gone through the same ordeal and with whom I would share my experience.
Growing up, I realized that we hundreds of children and young people are going through the same thing. Almost every LGBTQ + person I have met has experienced isolation, stigma and harassment, even within their own family. We have seen our identities denied and pressured to conform to the norm.
So it is hardly surprising that the mental health of LGBTQ + children and adolescents is often fragile. Our identity is not in question: our conscience is endangered by the boundless structure of cruelty, superstition and oppression that deprives us of our human rights.
One Future Collective, an organization I founded, helps LGBTQ + youth build their advocacy knowledge and skills. We provide safe havens and mental health services to a large number of young people who have suffered severe trauma in many cases. Even within their families, LGBTQ + kids feel that they are not normal – that they are not worthy of love and care.
This lack of acceptance often manifests itself in neglect, abuse or violence and even abandonment, eviction and even poverty for many of us. A situation that has the effect of limiting access to all types of care and exacerbates our mental health condition. The spiral of oppression that followed led us to leave this pernicious home and pursue the eternal pursuit of freedom in the hope of success.
Nevertheless, in the face of discrimination and marginalization in other cases, the support of family members and especially parents plays an important role and it can change the lives of LGBTQ + children. Sometimes this support simply acknowledges the child’s identity and accepts him or her as he or she is.
This support is an evolving process for parents and children alike. In many cases, due to prevailing cultural beliefs or conflicting social norms, parents find it difficult to agree with the notion that their child will not adopt their desired lifestyle.
At this point, it is important for parents to consider whether this inconsistency comes from their love and concern for their child or from personal embarrassment. It is a stage and it will pass or denying the identity of a child that they need treatment can lead to feelings of rejection and increase their distress.
As a parent, there are many ways for you to help your child and provide him or her with a home where he or she will feel safe. Here are a few:
1. Create a safe place and engage with your child to understand their experiences and concerns, so you know what they need.
2. Try to learn more about the unique joys and challenges that LGBTQ + children experience.
3. Find a supportive community and meet other parents with LGBTQ + children to analyze your experiences.
4. Advocate for LGBTQ + people by starting tough conversations in family and community
5. Stand up for your child, at school, at university, in family circles, or in public. It is important that he sees that you are accepting him or her not only in secret but also in public.
Policymakers and decision makers can also work to improve the lives of LGBTQ + children and adolescents, including prioritizing their safety and emotional well-being, educating families and communities about LGBTQ + identity LGBTQ +, addressing the issue in school curricula and prohibiting conversions. Therapy that denies our identity.
While it is essential to review policies and change infrastructure to improve the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ + children and adolescents, we need to be understood by our parents and loved ones, accepted by our educators and respected by our colleagues.
Captivity Morarka She is the founder and CEO of One Future Collective, a feminist non-profit organization that works for inclusive social justice and caring youth leadership. Bandita is a human rights lawyer, feminist researcher and rights consultant. He has touched more than two million lives through his work. He wrote the article in support of Anvita Walia, who also edited it. Anvita, an activist, mental health professional and social justice educator, works as a program manager at One Future Collective.