Being a member of the LGBTQ+ Community has given me much over the years, including an understanding of grief, loss, pain, and hope that is both unique and deeply profound.
An advantage of being a reader who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community is that it has permitted me to meet a broad spectrum of people. Considering that I interact with people of all backgrounds, experiences, and situations, the diversity of people I have met assists me in being able to relate to their concerns. It also provides insight and aids in sensitivity, relatability, and skills to create safe spaces for people to express sensitive matters. Ultimately, it has provided me with empathy that offers a pathway to see how others may view themselves and their circumstances.
Coming out and ultimately leading an authentic, healthy, happy existence is different for every person. For some of us, the path to acceptance has been relatively smooth. The fortunate ones have families that welcome with open arms. For others, it is much more complex and much more painful. Some of us live in situations that make it challenging and sometimes even dangerous to be ourselves publicly and privately.
I Had a Challenging Past
My road to leading an authentic life was difficult because of my location and environment. I was raised in a somewhat provincial city in a religious home; my Grandfather was a Deacon in the Episcopal Church. A progressive faith at the time, some made it clear they had limits regarding what was acceptable. Homosexuality was still very much a taboo subject. And some close to me had no problem expressing their "displeasure" with the very notion of someone being gay. This included my own family. I remember vividly the painful memories of conversations my Grandmother and Grandfather had regarding the subject of homosexuality. Their comments were disparaging, dismissive, and cruel. I held back my resentment, frustration, and pain because that was what one did back then. If you were a young person, your options were to remain silent or risk losing your family, friends, home, community, and faith.
When you realize that the very people who are supposed to provide unconditional love suddenly have conditions, it's isolating and indeed is the ultimate betrayal. Maintaining family bonds and support is always at risk when you must hide who you are just to exist.
The early lesson I took away from all of this was that people could be profoundly entrenched. You come quickly to the realization that some people cannot change. They are so tied to their beliefs that there is no room for even considering a new idea. Even though I came from an educated family of supposedly "enlightened people," being gay was reason enough to be excommunicated from family life. That point was made very clear. It was literally made clear.
Hiding My Truth
When I was coming along, there were no community centers to go to or sanctuaries to find. This was when being gay was still considered a "mental illness." For my own protection, I did what so many did back then. I became an invisible person. I was silent and concealed. Interacting with the world meant being enigmatic and hidden away. My real self was only partially seen.
Once I attended college, I discovered there was a wide world of assorted people doing different things. My eyes were open during a trip to San Francisco. When I saw the community there, I understood that I could create my own family. That if I just could keep silent, eventually I could break away and build my own life and space where I could live without being confined. I could be free.
Today is certainly a more open time, but still, there are obstacles. And although there's been progress, our society is both hostile and hospitable to LGBTQ+ people. Unfortunately, in some places, it is believed that reparative therapy is the answer.
As so many like me have, what I learned from my experiences is that the world is not always fair, and life is not always easy. The expectation that things would be easy was never mine. Although never a cynic, I found being a realist more pragmatic. It is a luxury to see the world only through rose-colored glasses. It is one I do not think many LGBTQ+ people can afford.
I Understand the Pain of Rejection
When my clients call to discuss how upset they are with family and friends angry with them for the people they date, their partners, and the people they marry, I have instant insight into how frustrating and lonely that can be. I do not have to guess what it is like to fear that family may expel you from functions. I do not have to imagine what it is like when friends and community shun you for living your authentic life. These are not abstractions for me. From my own experiences and others in the LGBTQ+ community, I understand and know too well and can empathize without effort. I have stories of just how hard rejection can be.
I remember meeting a wonderful Trans Woman many years ago. She was a bright, pleasant, enjoyable person that everyone adored. Many years later, I saw her. She was still just as stunning as she was the day I met her. It was as if time had stood still for her. As we talked, she told me she had fallen deeply in love with a man. He loved her, and they were happy.
It was when he introduced her to his family that is when all the love shattered. Although he loved her and perhaps still does, he could not go against his family's wishes.
When I heard her story, I wondered how dare someone deny a person happiness just because they are Transgender. How could a family be so cold, so callous, and so narrow-minded? But sadly, I know how people in a family can be so barren, unfeeling, and self-righteous. I did not have to look far to understand why. And when I think of her now, I do not think of her as broken, flawed, or a lesser woman. All I saw was a kind woman who befriended me over the years. For me, she was a real woman. She was authentic. She was not hiding who she was. She was not pretending to be something she was not. I have deep respect for people to choose to be themselves, even if it comes at a cost. As much as we encourage people to be independent, free, and authentic, there can be tragic consequences.
I Help Transgender Clients
From time to time, I do talk to Transgender callers. Having met, befriended, and met family members of Transgender people, I do have special insight and sensitivity to their concerns and circumstances. What has helped me is that I see them as people, people to be valued and respected. One of the first things I set about doing is validating their concerns. The second is to create a safe place to discuss their problems, worries, and themselves.
When my callers discuss how family does not accept their partners or that their friends depart because they are not "just like everyone else," I know the pain they are experiencing. Clients call expressing feeling like "lesser people." They feel broken. They think that their problems are petty and their lives insignificant. One of the most important things I do as a Reader is to let people who feel this way know that they are not "freaks" or "flawed people" simply because they are different. I point out that their concerns, fears, and frustrations are valid and that their emotions and feelings are legitimate ones to have. The truth is, validation is something so many people do not have and so desperately need.
Some of my callers are so hurt by negative self-images, self-hate even self-loathing that they cannot function. Some cannot even begin to comprehend their circumstances. They see no road to change. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I understand those feelings.
I know what it's like to feel lost and alone, wondering what is next.
Being part of the LGBTQ+ community has opened my eyes to so many ways of thinking and viewing the world. It has made me appreciate the diversity of the human experience. It has also helped me see the common threads that run through all our lives, no matter who we are or where we are. It has been an asset, and I am eternally thankful for all of my experiences and what I'll learn in the future.
Do you need help navigating the challenges of coming out? Are you feeling isolated and unable to be your true self? Connect with me or talk to PathForward’s community of compassionate Psychics. We are always here for you.
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marefie: Thank you for sharing your story, Armin.