Many places around the world have become more accepting of the LGBTQI2+ community, but that does not mean that you feel safe or connected. Queer individuals typically experience anxiety, grief, or shame as a result. Additionally, the coming out process is a rite of passage that most will experience alone or with little support in a homophobic or heteronormative society. For some, it becomes difficult to maintain and authentic sense of self, especially when faced with societal expectations and pressures. As a result, many will use alcohol, drugs, sex, and other self-destructive methods to cope with the internalized pain they feel. We understand the complexities of growing up in an external world that does not necessarily acknowledge or accept your internal one. Fear, marginalization, and harmful stereotypes that our society sustains further contribute to the mental health struggles that you and the community experience.
We are here to let you know that we see you and hear you.
Growing up Queer
Growing up in an environment that is not only intolerant but actively rejecting your identity negatively impacts you as an individual. For some, it may have been your parents who supported extreme conservative ideologies. For others, it may have been our peers who were unaccepting of who you are. You may have attempted to repress your feelings and experiences in an attempt to escape embarrassment or exclusion. Others may have attempted to live an authentic life, but ended up both physically, mentally and/or emotionally beaten. Overtime, all of these experiences can lead to the development of shame, guilt, anxiety, and depression. It feels as though you are just surviving, preventing you from being able to experience more fulfilling experiences in your life. Growing up is hard enough as it is but growing up queer has hidden challenges that are not as transparent in a homophobic and heteronormative world. At Ikigai Integrative, we can help you process the negative experiences you had as you navigated your childhood and teen years as a queer person.
Coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing your queer identity. It involves the exploration of yourself and sharing that experience with others. It is an ongoing process that every queer individual experiences throughout their life. It is a personal process that is unique to everyone. There is no right way to come out and as a result many emotions may come up as you develop your own personal flavor of coming out.
The first step is coming out to yourself. This can be extremely difficult if you grew up in a community that was homophobic or emotionally unsupportive. Additionally, society strongly enforces particular expectations around sexual orientation and gender norms. This may isolate you from family, friends, co-workers, and the greater community. As a result, you may feel ashamed, isolated, and afraid.
Even though the coming out process can leave you feeling unsafe and vulnerable, it can be a liberating and freeing process. You may be able to feel and live more authentically. You may be able to connect with an entire community who, like you, can be supported and inspiring. Even though this is a terrifying process, sometimes the reward can be worth the challenge that coming out entails.
At Ikigai Integrative, we can help you navigate the six stages of coming out based on The Cass Theory:
Stage 1: Identity Confusion (You begin to wonder about sexual or gender identity.)
Stage 2: Identity Comparison (You accept the possibility you may be LGBTQIA2+.)
Stage 3: Identity Tolerance (Your acceptance of your identity increases, and you begin to tolerate it.)
Stage 4: Identity Acceptance (You have resolved concerns around your identity and have accepted it.)
Stage 5: Identity Pride (You feel pride in being part of the queer community and immerse yourself in queer culture.)
Stage 6: Identity Synthesis (You integrate your queer identity with other aspects of the self so that it is just part of you who are, and not the whole.)