Many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQQ ) youth experience mental and emotional distress because of:
- Homophobia, discrimination and/or violence
- Pressure to come out to family and friends
- Rejection and alienation because of their gender or sexual orientation
If you are a transgender youth, the transition itself can cause emotional and mental distress. If you are bisexual, you might feel pressure to identify as either straight or gay.
Coming out is when you tell people that you are questioning/lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans/queer. Historically this has been a negative term for homosexuality and gender variance. More recently, the term has been reclaimed by the LGBTQ movement to refer to itself. The definition of queer continues to be debated among communities, activists and queer theorists.. It can be an emotionally tough decision. If you decide to tell them, you may be scared of their reactions and your safety. If you decide not to tell them, it can be isolating and lonely, and you may be scared that they will find out.
Many youth feel shame and embarrassment when they experience emotional and mental difficulties. Some religious youth struggle with integrating their sexuality and their beliefs. Some youth wonder what people in their communities may think. Other LGBTQ newcomer youth may face racism and discrimination, as well as homophobia. If this is you, you are not alone.
What Kind of Help Can I get?
If you are struggling with any of these things, you can:
- Call the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line at 1-800-268-9688. It is a toll-free Ontario-wide confidential anonymous support line. TTY is available on this number.
- Ask questions online: add firstname.lastname@example.org to MSN/AIM. Someone from the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line will answer your questions.
- Get counseling services that specifically counsel LGBTQQ newcomer youth and youth of colour.
- Join a peer support group. Peer support groups are a great way to meet other LGBTQ youth.
- Get involved in arts, culture and recreational spaces for young people.
- Attend LGBTQ youth events.
Where Can I Go For Help?
Search "mental health + your city" in the LGBT Youth Line Database to help near you.
If you live in Toronto, here are some places that help LGBTQQ newcomer youth:
- Among Friends is a program for LGBTQ newcomers. They are part of the 519 Community Centre. They have support groups for Queer newcomers in Toronto.
- Express Queer Newcomer Immigrant Youth Group is a group that is part of the Sherbourn Health Centre. They have a weekly support group. Find them on Facebook.