Category Archives: LGBTQ

Coming out: How to Support your LGBTQ Teenager

Coming out can be hard a hard experience, but not just for the person coming out, but also for their family. It is particularly hard when the person coming out is a teenager this is a time of identity development and there are often social pressures to just fit in and not stand out. Sometimes families can also add to the stress by not taking the right measures even if they want to help. Unfortunately, the stress from so many different directions leads teenagers to anxiety and depression. Here are some of the ways you can be a responsible parent to your coming out teenager.

1. Be a good listener: It is very important to give your child the time to explain how they feel to ease the coming out experience. They might not want to explain everything to you which is fine, but do encourage them to come to you if they feel unsafe as the result of coming out.

2. Learn about the LGBTQ community: It is extremely important to take some time to learn more about the LGBTQ community. Learn about what they stand for and what challenges they may face, so that you can be on the same page as your child. This will show that you want to be involved in your child’s life and are willing to go out of your way to know what your child is going through.

3. Be open-minded: This might be the first time somebody in your family came out and you might need a little time to adjust to this new reality which is understandable. However, make sure that your child does not take this as you not being supportive. Let them know that you need some time to process, but that you are willing to support your child along the way. Open communication is key.

4. Be patient: Nothing can be more important than being patient with your child to ease the coming out experience. Do not ask too many questions because your child might not have all the answers. Let them take their time to discuss things with you, as they feel comfortable.

5. Consider family therapy: If for some reason, you feel like your child’s coming out experience can be enhanced through family therapy then go for it. Make sure your child has everything they can to ease the experience.

By: Maleeha Khan

Maleeha is currently doing a double major in Human Biology and Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology at the University of Toronto. Her current research focuses on the sex differences in factors predicting conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. She is interested in pursuing MD after her undergraduate degree and helping third world countries dealing with neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Double-Marginalization in the LGBTQ Community

Until quite recently, we have been living in a heteronormative society, in which we take for granted the notion that men like women, and women like men. With the help of the recent LGBTQ movement, that has been raising awareness and ideas about sexual minorities, people these days are certainly becoming more aware of a non-binary world that has so long been disregarded. Indeed, Pride Month was established as a result of the Stonewalling Protest, one of the most famous LGBTQ protests, in the late 20th century.

“LGBTQ” is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual/genders, and Queer. The “LGBTQ community” denotes an inclusive space for sexual minorities, who live in a heteronormative society, to access support and wisdom from others who are in a similar situation. Although the community has been growing exponentially, several researchers have noticed a problem with this community. The community is predominantly Caucasian-dominated and many queer publications are guilty of portraying only white men and women as objects of beauty, while completely neglecting other races in the community. According to a survey by a UK magazine, about 80% of East Asian, South Asian, and African American men have experienced racism in the LGBTQ community. These ethnic minority LGBTQ individuals find themselves in a double minority, in which they are neither fully accepted nor understood by mainly white LGBTQ communities, nor are they accepted by their own ethnic group.

It is an important notion to remember that both ethnic groups and sexual orientations are social identities that many of these members cannot choose to hide from. The double marginalization manifests itself in two ways: either as a rejection or objectification. Many gay men have reported being rejected solely based on their race, as commonly seen on a popular gay dating app “Grindr,” where people explicitly write “no black,” or “no Asians.” Furthermore, Asians have reported being labeled as “passive and submissive,” while African Americans have reported being labeled as “masculine and aggressive.” This indicates that the LGBTQ members of non-white race encounter the exact same bigotry and favoritism of the heteronormative world that they were hoping to avoid by joining the community. This leads ethnic minority LGBTQ individuals to believe that the LGBTQ community may not be as safe and inclusive as it claims to be. Some researchers have noticed that racism and LGBTQ-based discrimination both directly and indirectly increase the risk for suicide, making ethnic minority LGBTQ individuals even more prone to danger.

Evidently, the LGBTQ movement is very new and fresh. However, it is increasingly gaining more support and awareness from the world, evidenced by the most recent legalization of gay marriage in the United States of America and Taiwan. It is time for the community to not only focus on the external factors, but internal factors as well. It certainly still has a long way to go in order to rectify the discriminations of the world, but it is time for the community to reflect upon itself and work towards inclusivity and making every single member of the community feel comfortable and safe. Instead of homogenizing all the individual differences, it is important that LGBTQ communities begin to address the individual needs and concerns of ethnic minorities in the group.

By: Stella Hyesoo Pock

Stella is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto with a double major degree in Psychology and Neuroscience. She is currently working on three projects that focus on maternal mental health at the Mothering Transitions Lab at the University of Toronto under Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis. She has various research experiences that range from postpartum depression to LGBTQ members with schizophrenia. She is dedicated to help those who are afflicted with mental disorders.

Self-Care After Orlando

1456995150_prideevents.dataphoto.153I have been thinking about recent events in Orlando this morning and thought I would put pen to paper to share my thoughts and reflections over the last week.  I am a psychotherapist that works within the Toronto LGBTQ community.  And at a time when Toronto Pride week is so close and we would normally be excited, it is a tough time for many both within the LGBTQ community and for those who simply feel touched, directly or indirectly, by the horrific Orlando shooting.  As a psychotherapist I spent much of this past week supporting people as they grieve and work through personal triggers, after the shooting.  Feelings of being unsafe seem to be a common thread.  Toronto is wondering, “Are we as open-minded and loving as we think we are?”  I believe we want to grieve these events in a positive way and be left feeling we are lucky to live in a wonderful place where we care for each other.  But sometimes I sense that people simply do not know how to do so.  So I offer some guidance and advice.

We need to protect our mental health and spirit the same we take care of our physical bodies.  Please be aware of the energy you are taking in.  After the Orlando incident, Facebook was inundated by opinions, comments and posts regarding the tragic event.  This is always a mixed experience for me.  Even if these are supportive posts, it can still feel overwhelming and lead to us thinking about the event incessantly.  This is not healthy for us.  I would also suggest we need to be aware of how often we watch the news &/or place our attention and energy onto negative world events.  The media always offers a biased view and we feel like we are informed when we may not be well informed at all.  It also results in a change in mood and affects your mental health and ability to grieve in a healthy a way.  So while it is great to care and get involved in change, we need to be aware of how often we are thinking about only negative events in the world.  Please reach out to trusted friends and loved ones to process these feelings and grieve and when you are able, become an agent of change.

One post I saw on FB that stayed with me was a quote by Mr. Rogers, who was a children’s show host many years ago.  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.  To this day, especially in times of “disaster”, I remember my mother’s words and I am comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in the world.”  What I love about this quote is where he chooses to place his energy as he grieves and processes horrific events.  I was astounded at how many images I saw of people after the Orlando shooting carrying wounded people to the hospital a few blocks away.  I also see the outpouring of love and pain within all people after an event like this, rather than only members of the LGBTQ community.  I urge you to remember that we are all in this together.  You are not alone.  There are helpers and caring people out there.  Sometimes helping is a quiet thing that does not make the news.  So it takes a bit more cognizance to remember this.  Please reach out and get the support you need.

I hope at Toronto Pride this year we all hold our heads high and remember as we both grieve and enjoy the Pride events that we feel the support and love all round us, and feel comforted and safe in that.  I know a horrific event like this is important and will not be forgotten.  What I fear is that what is forgotten is the outpouring of love and support that accompanies these awful events.  Let’s remember this too.

By: Lisa Shouldice

Lisa Shouldice