All of us have a need for acceptance, love, commitment, and nurturing. Those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered are no exception. In a perfect world, there would be no great difference for people in discovering that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered as opposed to discovering they are heterosexual.
In a perfect world, all individuals would be given the opportunities and safety to explore and learn about their own sexual orientation and gender identity. Instead, our society enforces strong codes of conduct regarding sexual behaviors and a majority of the population tells individuals that they need to be heterosexual. All evidence indicates that same-sex attraction is simply a different orientation – not a perversion.
The term “coming out” refers to a continual process of disclosure about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It is not a one-time occurrence, but a life-long process of revealing and disclosing one’s sexual identity.
If you are questioning your own sexual orientation or gender identity, you have probably already experienced the fear, anger, and misunderstandings, perhaps even safety issues which those who are heterosexual rarely have to face.
You probably feel very alone and isolated as you wade through the cultural prejudice and your own misconceptions of what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. You may also have a difficult time reconciling your sexuality with your views of spirituality or religion, and you may have a vague sense of not fitting into societal or cultural expectations but are not sure why you feel so lonely and afraid.
Some individuals may even become suicidal as they contemplate and experience a life of exposure to negative stereotypes and harassment. It is important at this time that you get accurate information and support.
Question basic assumptions about being gay: read all you can about GLBT relationships, look to role models (not television stereotypes) who are happy and successful, and establish a gay support system – you’ll want to talk with others who have made it through the process and who can understand exactly what you are going through.
There are also many support groups, hotlines, and organizations for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people which you may want to consider.
At any point in your process of self-discovery, it may be helpful to seek professional help and support from a counselor or psychologist. We are available at the Counseling Center to provide affirming and value-neutral assistance as you explore your sexual orientation or gender identity. Call us at 788-5015 to schedule an appointment.
Gay couples have many of the same issues that heterosexual couples have, but unfortunately, there are also some major differences in same-sex relationships that can put additional stressors on these relationships.
For more information, see the following resources.
(202) 638-4200, for family and friends