Exploring your sexuality can be a big emotional challenge. It becomes even more challenging when your family, friends, and community are not supportive or acceptive of your gender identity and sexual preference. Being LGBTQIA+ is often associated with a lot of social pressures and discrimination that can cause emotional distress. If you or someone you know is struggling with understanding their sexuality, facing social pressures related to their sexuality, or coming out, there are things you can do.
- Figuring it out-Sometimes figuring out who you are attracted to takes time. Identifying your gender identity and sexual preference is not always clear. There is no rush. Take your time and continue to explore. If questioning your sexuality is making you feel anxious or depressed don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. We offer free counseling here at the health center.
- Coming out and Living out- "Coming out" often relates to telling other you are attracted to the same sex. Accepting and understanding sexuality for gay or straight individuals is a learning experience. It is important to be honest with yourself and honor who you are by allowing others to know your true identity. There is no pressure or time frame. You get to decide when you are ready and who you want to "come out" to. Start by choosing friends or family in your life that you feel safe with and you think will be supportive and understanding. You are not alone in this process. "Coming out" for many can be scary or stressful. It may help to talk to others that have gone through a similar experience. Try checking out the Ventura County Diversity Collective or your local Parents, Family, Friends, and Allies (PFLAG) chapter.
- Helping Out-If a family member or friend confides in you about their sexuality make sure you listen and are supportive. Let them know you are there for them and accept who they are. If you see they are experiencing emotional distress suggest counseling or give them the number to the Trevor Project or National LGBTQIA+ hotline found at the top of this page. We are all responsible for stopping discrimination and bullying. If you see someone being harassed or harmed offer your assistance to that individual and report it to an authority figure that can help. If you witness this type of discrimination on campus please report it right away. You can report it to your professor, dean of students, or campus police.