June is GLBT Books Month! GLBT stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender. The acronym LGBTQ+ is also frequently used and stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning and the + is for all those who don’t feel that they are covered by the other letters. I don’t want to get too involved with labeling and subsets of the Queer Community in this post. If you have further questions, you can leave a comment, come in to the library to do some research, or check out this list of terms. Figuring out that you aren’t straight and/or cisgender is the first step. You’ll figure out all the details like what to call yourself as you go along. Seriously, it’s not a big deal if you don’t know if you’re gay, bisexual, or bicurious. It’s okay if you’re not sure if you’re transgender, genderfluid or agender. People might tell you that you need to pick one, but you don’t. It’s okay to be unsure about your sexual orientation or gender identity. Really.
This post is about the journey to the label. You’ve figured out that you’re different. Now what? Self-reflection, deep thought, and personal research will only take you so far. You should absolutely explore your own feelings and read everything you can on the subject, but, at some point, you need to be able to talk about it with other people. If you have friends or family members that you trust, great! If not, there are still a ton of options out there.
- Check to see if your school has a GSA (gay-straight alliance). Many high schools do, but sadly not all. If your school does not, you can talk to the administration at your school about starting your own GSA. GLSEN (the gay, lesbian, and straight, education network) has a big old list of ideas for starting and maintaining a GSA on their website.
- Of course, not all of us are comfortable in leadership roles. That’s ok. A quick google search of “LGBTQ youth in ” should locate a support group nearby. I found two groups near Bolingbrook. The Community Alliance & Action Network (or CAAN) lists a youth support group for 13-17 year olds that meets in Joliet. Youth Outlook also has several groups meeting in Naperville and other Chicagoland suburbs. You can always call or email with any questions or fears you might have before you attend a meeting. Most Queer Youth Groups are 100% confidential and don’t even require you to use your real name if you don’t wish to.
- If you feel that your parents or family members would benefit from a support group, there are a number of those too! Youth Outlook has a parent group in addition to youth support groups. The most well-known organization for family and friends of LGBTQ+ folks is PFLAG. It stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and they have chapters all over the country. Check here to find a chapter near you.
If you feel like there is no one that you can talk to, especially if you feel depressed or suicidal, please call 866-488-7386 or go to The Trevor Project. There, you can connect with helpline operators via text or chat and also find other resources to help.
Other Organizations and Resources:
- It Gets Better Project
- Human Rights Campaign
- GLAD LGBTQ Youth Rights
- Teen Line Online Coming Out Guide
Take care of yourself! You’re not alone!