Top tips from LGBTQI young people on being LGBTQI
SpunOut asked a group of young LGBTQI people what advice they would give to other young people. Here's what they said...
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact email@example.com.
Accept who you are and be yourself
“Yourself is the best person you can be”
Almost every LGBTQI person that was asked said that one of the most important things you can do is to be yourself. As you discover your sexual orientation or gender identity and try to figure out who you really are, don’t feel ashamed or feel like what you’re going through isn’t normal. If you know who you are inside, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone else and you shouldn’t feel like you need to fit into a certain box or label. Pretending to be someone you’re not will only make you unhappy. Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with other people. Don’t worry about what other people will think of you, you will only regret not being open about yourself.
“Take your time coming to terms with your sexuality and coming out”
Coming out is a big deal for every LGBTQI person and it can be hard. Many people advised that you should not come out until you are ready. You may still be trying to figure out your sexuality yourself and you should not feel pressured or rushed to let others know what your identity is when you’re not so sure of it yourself. For some people, the idea of coming out might make you feel uncomfortable, or you may feel that it would be unsafe to come out right now. Know that it is okay to wait until you are ready and you don’t have to tell everyone at once. You can start by telling only a few people that you trust, and as you get more comfortable and confident, begin to tell more people. If you haven’t come out yet but feel like you need someone to talk to, there are plenty of LGBTQI groups and helplines there to support you before, during, and after coming out. BeLonG To is an organisation that supports young LGBTQI people. You can contact them on 01 670 6223 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more advice on coming out, check out SpunOut's article here.
“You are not alone”.
Repeated over and over again, you are not alone is one of the most important messages young LGBTQI people wanted to share. As isolated as you might feel sometimes, there is always someone out there who understands, who has been through the same things as you, who is willing to listen. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to seek out other people who are LGBTQI who you can talk to. Join groups in your area, connect with other LGBTQI people online (but make sure you stay safe) or contact a helpline. BeLonG To run LGBTQI youth groups all over Ireland - you can find a list of them here. There’s always someone there that you can talk to. If you are LGBTQI, you are part of a community, and you’re never alone.
"Always practice safe sex no matter what"
The importance of practicing safer sex and looking after your sexual health was highlighted by a lot of young LGBTQI people. Their advice is to get checked regularly and there are a number of clinics in Ireland where you can get tested for free. Know the facts about different STIs and always use protection. Find out what your partner’s STI status is and always be honest about your own. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.