There are many reasons folks in the LGBTQIA+ community seek therapy. American society was built on patriarchal values. These values have elevated heteronormativity throughout history and still today. Heteronormativity refers to the idea that being cis-gendered is the “right” way to be. It also promotes the idea that identities outside of cis-gender and heterosexual are sinful and wrong. Being raised in a society that upholds these beliefs can be very harmful to all our mental health. Including those in the LGBTQIA+ community and those who are not.
Growing up, many of us are bombarded with ideas of who we should be when we grow up. The “American Dream” consists of a husband and wife. They have a nice home with a white picket fence and kids running around the yard. But for many, this isn’t the dream. Folks in the LGBTQIA+ community have all kinds of dreams of what their lives could look like. But, before we can tap into those hopes and dreams, one has to be aware of their gender identity. And, their sexual orientation. Once we are aware that we are “different” by society’s means, problematic beliefs may arise. On top of that, our world is still riddled with homophobia, transphobia, and racism. These complex issues continue to further oppress LGBTQIA+ folks. Yet, as they are only trying to figure it all out for themselves.
Self Exploration in LGBTQ Therapy
For some, tapping into your sexual orientation and/or gender identity is a simple process. Some people know when they are young children that they hold a particular identity. But more often then, not, people who hold LGBTQIA+ identities don’t know so until adulthood. This makes sense, given the homophobia and transphobia that heteronormativity pushes on us. Many are unable to even consider the possibilities of their identities. They have been conditioned to be “normal” and fit in as cis, straight people.
Those who start this journey of self-exploration take on an honorable but hefty task. Undoing the work of heteronormativity is challenging. You’re unburdening yourself with the expectations of friends, family, coworkers, and strangers. Choosing to live as your authentic self is not as easy as it should be. Especially when you have to consider the reactions and opinions of others in your life.
Sharing Your LGBTQIA+ Identity
Once you have done some internal reflection, you likely want to share those with people in your life. Coming to a realization about particular identities is exciting! You’ve done the hard work of learning more about yourself. Now, you’re likely feeling a sense of freedom from doing this work. So, of course, you want to share with the people you love.
But, some people don’t have the luxury of sharing their true identities. Those who still live with their parents have to navigate the pros and cons of living in an authentic way. Will they revoke financial support? Or will the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally push you away? What if they disapprove and never speak to you again? Will they ever use your correct pronouns? These are the questions on the minds of those coming to terms with LGBTQIA+ identities.
Trauma from Coming Out
Our therapists hope that your coming out experience is a hopeful, positive one. But, we know that this is often not the case. Coming out is so much more than saying the words “I’m gay,” “I’m transgender,” or “I’m nonbinary.” You have to plan ahead of time for the best and worst reactions. So, those who plan to come out usually plan beforehand. This shouldn’t be necessary, but unfortunately for many, it is. You shouldn’t have to consider the backlash from people, but you do.
Coming Out to Family and Friends
Coming out can be very traumatic for many reasons. Children who come out to their parents are taking a huge risk. They are not independent yet, and may still rely on family to support them. Making the jump to come out to parents can open up old wounds. This safety risk can reveal painful truths about family members’ homophobia or transphobia.
If a parent or caregiver has responded poorly to your coming out, that experience may have negatively affected you. In fact, it may have even been traumatic. Being cast out by those who provide support can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and lower your self-esteem.
Likewise, coming out to coworkers or new friends can be anxiety-inducing and traumatic for LGBTQIA+ folks. Showing up to your kiddos’ daycare with both Mama and Mommy in tow may cause anxiety to creep up. You don’t think people at your kids’ school would be homophobic. But, you never know. What if the other kids exclude your child because they have same-sex parents? Or, what if other kids’ parents are saying things behind your back because your partner is trans? Questioning whether you are accepted because of who you are can cause distress over time. Thus, causing potential trauma.
Trauma Therapy Can Help
Our team of therapists is aware of the systemic and interpersonal challenges involved with coming out. We’ve worked with many folks in LGBTQ therapy to help them explore and come to terms with their identities. Further, we can help you navigate the uneasy experience of coming out. In LGBTQ therapy, a therapist can help you plan to safely come out on your own time and terms.
The experiences among LGBTQIA+ folks are wide and varied. But, some common questions and concerns arise while trying to figure it all out. Our therapists have the education and experience providing trauma therapy to support you through the process.
Begin LGBTQ Therapy in Orange County, CA
You deserve a safe, secure place to address the issues that arise from being part of this amazing community. Our caring therapists would be honored to support you in becoming your most authentic self. We offer support from our Orange County, CA-based therapy practice. To start your therapy journey, follow these simple steps:
- Schedule a free consultation
- Meet with a caring LGBTQ therapist
- Begin living your fullest, most authentic life
Other Services Offered at Moxie Family Therapy
LGBTQ therapy is not the only service offered at our Orange County, CA-based therapy practice. Other mental health services offered include counseling for young adults and college students. We also provide support with couples counseling, counseling for teen girls, children, art therapy, and family therapy. Contact our practice to address the most important issues to you, and reclaim your moxie!