When you come out as LGBTI+ at first, it’s possible that a parent, guardian, family member or friend, won’t accept your sexual identity or gender identity. They may be angry or confused, and behave in a way that’s really hurtful to you. This can be a really difficult experience, and it’s not easy to cope with. Here’s some advice as to how you might react in these situations.
What to do if someone doesn’t accept you as LGBTI+
Give them time
You have probably had a lot of time to come to terms with the fact that you’re LGBTI+, but this news to someone else may be a surprise. People can grow up with different social experiences and this may even be the first time the person you have told has met an LGBTI+ person. Being patient can give the person time to think and reflect on the news and come to terms with what is really means. With time and support hopefully they will come around to it.
Suggest LGBTI+ positive resources
The internet is full of great resources and advice to parents and friends of LGBTI+ people. The reason that your parent or mate is struggling to accept you as LGBTI+ may be that they simply don’t know enough about LGBTI+ people. Encourage them to do some research.
Don’t accept homophobia or cruelness
Although it may take some time for certain people to get used to you being LGBTI+, that doesn’t mean they have any right to hurt you. If the person seems to be incapable of having a conversation without making hurtful remarks about your sexual or gender identity, respectfully tell them you find their behaviour hurtful, and ask them to stop. If they won’t stop, tell them you won’t be able to talk to them until their behaviour improves.
Try not to lose your cool
It can be hugely upsetting to have someone reject you because of your sexual or gender identity. You might feel furious and want to shout at this person. This will only make matters worse though. If you want to hang onto the relationship, try to calmly explain that no matter what they say, they cannot change the fact that you’re LGBTI+, and that they will need to learn to accept and embrace you.
Recognise their behaviour is not your fault
No matter how angry this person gets at you, remember it’s not your fault, and you’ve done nothing wrong for being LGBTI+. Don’t feel you need to change to satisfy this person – the only thing that needs to change is this person’s unaccepting attitude or behaviour.
Look after your mental health
Not being accepted by someone you love can be really difficult and may negatively impact your mental health. Speaking to someone about what you are going through can be a big help, and there are free support services available to you if you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable taking to someone you know. You can find a list of free LGBTI+ support services at the bottom of this article.
Don’t be afraid to distance yourself from this person
Ultimately, you need to decide how valuable this relationship is to you. If this person is constantly refusing to make effort to accept your sexual or gender identity, then it may be time to stop seeing this person for a while. Let them know that their refusal to accept you is damaging your relationship, and if this continues, you may have to stop seeing them.
It can be extremely difficult to take a step back from someone you love, and if you feel lonely there are LGBTI+ groups to help support you. Making friends from the LGBTI+ community can be an incredible support and show you a life of acceptance that LGBTI+ people can lead. The opinion of the person who does not support you is not a reflection on how other people will feel about you. You will find a group who love you for who you are an recognise the wonderful things that being LGBTI+ brings to your life.
LGBTI+ support services in Ireland
Online LGBTI+ Youth Group for New Members
BeLonGTo’s online LGBTI+ youth group for new members is starting on Monday, January 11th 2021. This group is a safe space to meet people, chat, have fun, and learn a little about gender and sexuality. This online group is open to any LGBTI+ young person between 14-23 years. Sign up to BeLonGTo.
Crisis Counselling with Pieta
Working with Pieta, BeLonGTo are providing a free crisis counselling service for LGBTI+ youth who are self-harming or thinking of suicide. Their therapist, Nash, is friendly and welcoming, and will listen to you in a safe, non-judgmental space and work through whatever is worrying you.
Talk to their Youth Workers over Text, Phone or Email
Reach out and talk to BeLonGTo’s expert Youth Workers Shane, Kate and Sean in confidence about whatever is on your mind. They are happy to listen, provide you with information and referrals if needed. Click here to get in touch today.
Youth Groups Nationwide
BeLonGTo’s youth groups are safe spaces for LGBTI+ young people to meet, share experiences, and chat. Their groups are now being delivered virtually.
Transformers is a peer support group for post primary age gender diverse young people. They are currently meeting online via Zoom in regions throughout the country: Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Kerry and Cavan/Monaghan. Contact [email protected] for further information.
- LGBT Helpline is available on 1890 929 539
- There is also a Family Support Line on 01 907 3707
- There is an instant messaging service available at lgbt.ie
- You can email [email protected] for support or information as face to face services are currently closed
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.