I grew up and went to graduate school in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is probably hard to imagine a place more accepting of people from all walks of life, all sexual orientations, and all gender identities. I was fortunate to live in a liberal bubble with very little homophobia and transphobia.
However, even in that rarefied community, homophobia, racism, transphobia and other forms of bigotry still existed. People were less open about it, sure, but it was still there. In my graduate school, we had a multicultural emphasis, so that we tried to be on the lookout for our own biases that might cloud our judgment and effectiveness as psychologists. I am still grateful to John F. Kennedy University for this emphasis. It has guided and shaped my career considerably.
Changing scenery, and acceptance for LGBTQQIA+
However, when I moved to the Antelope Valley, which is about 50 miles north of Los Angeles, I was in for a shock. Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore! I encountered a lot more bigotry and fear of diverse people than what I was used to, and it was disheartening at first.
I still worked with people from the LGBTQQIA+ community, but I heard much more drastic stories. Many young people were rejected by their family for being gender-fluid, transgender, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Some were even kicked out or disowned by their parents. It seemed that there was a need for acceptance and compassion even stronger than the Bay Area or Los Angeles, where people have a more open-minded and accepting attitude towards diversity in general.
Confronting homophobia and transphobia in the therapy room
As I worked with people who were afraid of coming out to their family, friends or workplace, it seemed important to make this available to people all over the state of California. There's probably a need all over the country and the world, but I am only licensed to practice psychotherapy in California for now. So that is where I am starting.
I know there are people in other small, semi-rural or rural communities who are, scared, sad, angry, anxious, depressed, gender dysphoric, etc. There are people who need help accepting themselves because they have been labeled as deviant, weird, sinful, wrong, and so on for something that is not even wrong with them.
How to love yourself when others seem to hate you?
First, you need to realize that the people who are rejecting you for your gender identification or sexual orientation are ignorant and frightened. They don't know or understand what is going on and so they are simply basing their opinions on misinformation or no information. Other times they use their religious beliefs to reject you. This is hard because they really believe they are "saving" you from yourself by urging you to change for their comfort. But that's all it is! Ignorance and discomfort with what they don't understand.
Second, know that your gender identity or sexual identity are just one aspect of who you are. You are so much more than that. You have likes, dislikes, strengths, abilities, talents, interests, and hobbies, as well as opinions just as anyone else does. No news to you, I'm sure. But when people around you pigeon-hole you based on one category or aspect of you, it's easy to see yourself through their eyes.
Third, you have to find people who are accepting and who see the magic and uniqueness that is you. It may not be in your family that you were born into. You might have to find a family of choice, people who get you and affirm you completely as you are. Where do you find people like this? One place to look is in clubs and organizations that serve LGBTQQIA+ individuals. Here in Lancaster it's the OUTReach Center; but if you're not in the Antelope Valley you can Google organizations that serve you "near me." That's a place to start, anyway.
Being different in a world that is so hell-bent on conformity is really difficult, and I want to help you cope with it. My wish for you, if you struggle with being accepted by those around you because you belong to the LGBTQ+ community, is that you love and accept yourself exactly as you are. You deserve that, and with that self-acceptance, you can command respect and be confident in achieving what you desire in life.
The question is, are you ready to take that step? I do psychotherapy through a HIPAA-compliant platform called SecureVideo. I would love to see how I can help you. Please call if you are ready now: 661-233-6771.