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 around 13 – 19 years across Suffolk. 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
a trans families project
a chance to meet other LGBTQ young people
a buddy system to introduce new young people to the project
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 (aged 11-25 years)
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.
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, bisexual, transgender or questioning 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!
Hearing a response like that from someone in your family is hurtful. Fortunately, 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:
Some common questions asked by parents are also answered on BelongTo.
"It gets better. It can take a while but it gets much easier" Dan at Outreach youth, 2019
It can be difficult at first but have confidence that people will get over it and stop caring. It can help to look at it from their viewpoint, it's not something that they expected and it can help to be understanding of them, like you want them to be understanding to you.
Advice from young people at Outreach youth:
Don't think it's your fault and don't blame yourself.
Try to accept that not everyone will be able to accept you but it doesn't mean you are in the wrong.
Find people who will accept you for who you are. If they don't, find support from somewhere else, like Outreach youth, people you trust or access online support - like Stonewall.
Kooth is a free, safe and confidential online service where you can find someone to talk to when you need it. Just keeping problems bottled up isn't a long term fix but talking through things can really help. You can read more in our information pages or visit their website www.kooth.com