When it comes to navigating your sexual identity and orientation, it can be a confusing, intimidating, and scary process. You may feel nervous, and not know where to begin. This is especially true if you don’t have a supportive family, friends, or community around you. With that in mind, it’s worth it to explore regardless. When you arm yourself with the right resources, you can build your own community, while feeling like you are able to embrace your own unique sexual orientation.
Understanding Sexual Identity and Orientation
When you set out to understand and embrace who you are, you have to truly embrace the discovery of your sexual identity and orientation. It’s about understanding the spectrum of LGBTQIA+ identities, and acknowledging that sexuality is not black and white – even if society may want it to be. Your sexual identity is very much personal, and can encompass aspects like attraction, desire, and emotional connections – and it may be fluid, meaning it changes over time. It’s important to educate yourself on the diverse range of sexual orientations, including but not limited to gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and queer. By understanding the unique nuances of overall sexual identity, you can become more inclusive and accepting not only of yourself, but also of others.
Different Types of Sexual Orientations
Sexual orientation is so diverse, and by being educated on it, you can be more understanding of other people and their journeys, while allowing yourself to experience your identity to the utmost. The acronym LGBTQIA+ is encompassing of many identities, from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and even more! It can feel daunting to see all of these different identities, but it really is more simple than it sounds. Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, you should be able to learn and respect everyone’s unique identity! Accept them, as you would want to be accepted – even if you are simply straight. When we create a world where everyone can be seen and accepted, the world changes for the better.
Coming Out: Tips and Strategies
When it comes to coming out, it’s a scary and courageous thing to do. There is really no right or wrong time to come out – but you should do it when you feel comfortable. Make sure you trust your instincts. If you think someone is likely to not be supportive, don’t tell them! Start with people you trust, that make you feel loved, comfortable, and supported. You can also connect with people within your community, make new friends, and talk through their journey to learn ways that may help you. Take it at your own pace – there is not a race to get your sexual orientation out there! It’s ok to wait if you feel like you need to, especially if you are concerned for your safety and wellbeing.
Be Sure to Create a Supportive Community
When you have a supportive community, the process of discovering your sexual identity becomes much easier. Surround yourself with those who understand you, support you, and love you. These are the people that will reassure you and encourage you throughout your journey. It also allows you to have open, honest conversations with those who have been through what you may be going through. You can meet members of your community online, in person, and in many different ways. Make sure these people affirm you on this journey, and are supporting you overall. Try to avoid toxic energy, as it will bleed in to your relationship with yourself. You need people to uplift you!
Seeking Mental Health Support
You may feel emotionally drained and confused – and if so, it’s time to ensure you seek out a mental health counselor. It’s ok to talk to someone! A therapist or counselor can help you positively work through your feelings and concerns, and provide an unbiased perspective to help you understand what you do and don’t want, and where your mind is at. This guidance is extremely valuable, and can save you from self destruction.
Overcoming Stigma and Discrimination
Self discovery and the navigation of it can sometimes lead to facing stigmas and discrimination. While this is never ok, it’s inevitable. Preparing yourself for it now will help you manage when you do experience it. Having a supportive community surrounding you will help you feel like you can overcome this easier. You are not alone! Whenever you can, educate others, and advocate not only for yourself, but others in your community.