Our mentors and page authors are not necessarily psychologists or therapists. Even when they are, this page is not medical or psychological advice and they are not creating a doctor/therapist-client relationship. You should consult a professional if possible and they can tell you whether this advice applies to your situation. If this is an emergency, you should call your national emergency number, like 911, or a mental health hotline, like 1-800-950-6264.

If you’re struggling to figure out your sexuality or gender identity, please read our LGBTQ+ Coming Out page here.

If you are struggling to figure out your identity, come out to your friends and family, or mentally handle discrimination, transitioning, or anything else, please contact one of our mentors. We are here to help you and to point you at more resources that can support you.

Acceptance

Who you are is acceptable. Who you are is beautiful. Who you are is powerful.

And you deserve to be accepted, loved, and cherished for who you are.

It may seem weird, but one of our best suggestions is to say this to yourself in the mirror (loudly if it’s safe, but softly, if not) every single morning. No matter what your identity is, there are communities out there who will support you.

If you’re having trouble accepting your gender identity or sexuality, remember that you are not alone. You may not feel like you can come out at work or at home. You are not alone there either. Many more people than you realize are queer or trans and even many cis/straight people have questioned their identity at some point or had same-sex curiosity or relationships.

Another technique to use to build acceptance is focused meditation. Start with two minutes of focusing on your breath. Breathe in and out calmly and focus on the air entering and leaving your body. Then think of your identity and who you’re attracted to. How does it make you feel? What feelings and sensations can you sense in your body? If parts of your body tense up, breathe into it and relax. Remind yourself you are safe. You are loved. You deserve to be happy. Welcome yourself and love yourself. Imagine a glowing light spreading from your heart to your whole body.

Find someone to talk to: This is crucial. If you are in other queer people’s lives, support them and ask them to support you. Find a parent, teacher, or friend who is safe and who you can talk to. Or reach out to one of our mentors.

Sex: It’s also important to realize that movies, pop culture, and sexual education are often not designed for you. That is a tragic reality of the world we live in. The internet is your friend and it is okay to Google all the questions you have about how to have safe and enjoyable sex, long-term sexual health, and information on transitioning. The Trevor Project has some resources here to help you get started. If your friends ask you inappropriate questions about how you have sex or what your body looks like, remind them they can use Google too. It’s not your job to educate other people.

And for more about how to keep your internet searches private, read here.

If others don’t accept you: Explain to them politely that sexuality is not a choice. Do not engage with bullies. Try these sentences: “Your statements are hurtful and motivated by a lack of understanding of my identity. I cannot change who I am and mocking me for it is degrading and inappropriate. Please leave me alone.” And walk away or extract yourself from the situation. If your workplace, school, or country is supportive, report homophobic harassment or bullying to appropriate authorities.

If homosexuality or being transgender is a crime in your country, remember that it is not your duty to come out. Stay safe and find ways to leave your situation as early as you can. If you work in an environment where you will be bullied or discriminated for your sexuality, again, it is not your duty to come out. If you choose to do so, know the law. In the United States, Lamda Legal has resources for you to know your legal rights and in many Western countries, it is illegal to discriminate based on sexuality or gender identity. But remember that many countries are still very regressive and conservative and even in countries like the United States, there are many places where discrimination against queer people is sanctioned or even institutionalized.

Relaxation and Destressing

Coming out (which is something that happens over and over again for queer people) can be a very stressful process. You may face continual harassment or discrimination. You may find your views on  your sexuality or gender identity changing over time as you discover who you are. This isn’t easy!

Remember to take time for yourself and to prioritize your mental health. Some of our suggestions are:

In addition, find communities, days, or months (like Pride Month), where you can celebrate who you are and be applauded and loved for it. It’s important to have friends to text when you go through discrimination or see a hate crime on the news. If you don’t have someone, please reach out to one of our mentors, who are happy to listen and be there for you, without judgment.

Changing Harmful Thought Patterns

You may be struggling with a lot of negative thoughts about your sexuality. Here are some ways to correct these thoughts in your head when they pop up. For more cognitive behavioral therapy tools to help with you through mental health issues, check out our self-help toolkit.

  • My sexuality is wrong/dirty/a problem. “My sexuality is a part of who I am and I am awesome. It is okay to be and love who I want.”
  • People will never understand me. “Many people share my identity/sexuality and have been through similar circumstances. I’m not alone, even though I feel alone right now, and I can reach out to groups with similar people in them.”
  • Other people will always hate me. “Many people like me and will love me. I just need to find them.”
  • I’m weak. “I feel unempowered right now, but that has nothing to do with my strength.”
  • People don’t know who I am. “People know a part of me that I can share. It’s important to be more authentic so I will find places I can express my identity.”

Religion and Sexuality

Thoughts aren’t good or bad; they are helpful or hurtful.

Sexuality isn’t a choice. Your religion is.

What is true about the world isn’t your choice (there either exists a God or doesn’t; that God looks a certain way or doesn’t), but what you believe is. Your religion is a choice. What you believe is a choice. Your sexuality is not a choice. Whether you present as a different gender identity, come out, or date people of the same sex are choices. But your underlying sexuality isn’t.

Many people have had to battle conservative thinking and religious beliefs and come out okay. Remember that no matter what your faith, there are brilliant, exciting, amazing, smart people out there who believe something fundamentally different about the world.

If your religion is making you feel like you are betraying God, doing wrong, or not fulfilling your duty because you are not straight or cisgender, then you need to find a solution and the answer isn’t to betray who you are. There are many, many people around the world who are practicing Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. who are also happily living as gays, lesbians, transgender, and more. Please contact one of our mentors, a member of your faith who is also a member of your sexuality, or a therapist.

Conversion therapy and other methods like this are not safe or effective and they won’t make you feel better. There is plenty of research to support that. All of your beliefs exist in your mind and you can work on changing them or finding options within your belief system, impossible as it may seem. We believe that above all, God wants you to be happy and to increase the happiness in the world. Blaming yourself or trying to change people’s sexualities just increases tangible pain and suffering. And if you think that your God/religion doesn’t want you to be happy, challenge why you feel that way, why you believe that about your God/religion, and what beliefs you are willing to change in your mind.

One of the best techniques to work on your in-built beliefs that your sexuality or gender identity is an affront to your religion or culture is to challenge that belief frequently. Try a core beliefs worksheet and work on reevaluating your underlying assumptions to find the wiggle room you can live with.

And please, speak to a member of your faith who is a sexual minority. There are some more resources for you to find help here: https://www.glaad.org/resourcelist.

More about how to handle religion and spirituality when improving your mental health here.

Resources

Other nonprofits who can help you as you come out or transition are listed below. This American-centered list is from the National Center for Transgender Equality, that has additional resources (such as for incarcerated people or veterans) here. Our mentors are also happy to help you find more country-specific clinics and resources.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
24/7 hotline, staffed by trained individuals, for those in suicidal crisis or emotional distress
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Crisis hotline:  800­-273-­TALK (8255); 888-­628­-9454 (en español)

Crisis Text Line
Free, 24/7 support for people in crisis
https://www.crisistextline.org/
Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.

The Trevor Project
Crisis intervention and mental health services for those ages 13­-24
http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Crisis hotline: 866­-488­-7386 (for those ages 13­-24)

National Sexual Assault Hotline
24/7 hotline, staffed by trained individuals, for those experiencing sexual assault or violence
https://www.rainn.org/ https://www.rainn.org/es (en español)
Crisis hotline: 800­-656-­HOPE (4673)

The National Domestic Violence Hotline
24/7 confidential crisis line for those experiencing domestic violence
http://www.thehotline.org/
800-­799-­SAFE (7233)

Communities Against Hate
National coalition documenting hate incidents
Report an incident at: http://communitiesagainsthate.org/report
Report and get help at: 1-844-9-NO-HATE

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Family and Ally organization
http://pflag.org

TransHealth
Health and guidance for healthcare providers, as well as a list of trans­affirming health clinics in Canada, the United States, and England.
http://www.trans-­health.com/

Transcend Legal
Transcend Legal helps people get transgender-related health care covered under insurance.
https://transcendlegal.org/

TransChance Health
Helps transgender people navigate health care and insurance to receive respectful, high-quality care, and get transition-related care covered 
https://www.transchancehealth.org/

TransLifeLine
Helps transgender people navigate health care and insurance to receive respectful, high-quality care, and get transition-related care covered  
https://www.translifeline.org
1-877-565-8860

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