What can affect people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ+) and looking for help, is the fear of prejudice and ignorance. Although the argument of it not being 'natural' means nothing, it's often difficult for people to accept things they don't understand. That makes it even harder to find support and understanding. Whether you decide to come out or not, you can find support.
Outreach youth is a youth project for LGBTQ+ young people aged aged 13 – 19 years across Suffolk and north Essex. The sessions are just like other youth projects but with a particular focus. Outreach youth provides:
a relaxed and safe environment to talk about life and share experiences
focus on issues young LGBTQ+ people want to know about e.g. coming out, relationships, homophobia, bullying etc.
one to one support to LGBTQ+ young people, for those who don’t want to, or can’t, get along to Outreach youth sessions
campaign work to end homophobic bullying and homophobia in organisations working with young people.
After visiting Outreach Youth and speaking to the young people there, they have shared their experiences with us so that we can talk about some of the issues on this page.
Questioning your gender identity?
As with sexuality, your feelings about your gender can also change from day-to-day. If you feel uncomfortable about your gender then puberty can become an even more difficult time.
Leo's story - check out this video featuring 13-year-old Leo in Lowestoft, who shares his story about being a boy born in a female body.
Gender identity (how you feel about your gender) and sexuality (your sexual preferences) aren't the same thing, but they can be linked. Have a look on the NHS website for some really useful info and advice about gender identity.
Many of the young people at Outreach Youth said the internet was great in helping them come to terms with their sexuality or gender identity. Many said that they didn't receive any of this information at school, so YouTube videos taught them a lot and provided support and reassurance.
The video below explains the difference between sex and gender, and definitions of different gender identities:
Sexual health issues for young people who are LGBTQ+ are broadly no different to straight men and women. The same message of prevention of sexually transmitted infections applies (STIs). Always wearing a condom when having sex will reduce the risk of becoming infected.
All clinics, doctors, school nurses and health professionals must legally give the same level of help and support regardless of your sexual preference. For more advice, take a look at our sexual health pages.
Coming out - dealing with reactions from family and friends
Telling your friends and family that you're lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender can be really difficult and upsetting if they don't seem to accept it.
When one young person came out to her family, her mum told her was probably 'just a phase’, comparing it to an old leather jacket she went through a phase of wearing in her youth!
This seems to be a fairly common response, particularly from parents. Luckily, there is information and support out there for the families of young people who are LGBTQ+, and advice on accepting your child's sexuality or gender identity. You could try directing your family to one of these websites if it seems like they're struggling: