By Maraisa Glass
Every Pride Month, we recognize and celebrate the LGBTQI community in all its glory, bringing forth a sense of community, belonging, diversity, and inclusion to the forefront of American culture.
While commemorating the LGBTQI community and focusing on a minority group, Pride Month brings awareness to LGBTQI issues that uniquely impact the community. A critical issue: LGBTQI individuals experience mental health issues at a significantly higher rate than the majority of the population, partially due to the trauma and stigma this particular community faces. Specifically, damaging myths continue to stigmatize and dehumanize LGBTQI community members.
As a person who identifies within the LGBTQI community, I acknowledge that I once believed some harmful myths that have negatively affected my mental health. However, as I have started to enter queer spaces and develop deep, emotional connections and have insightful conversations with people within the LGBTQI community, my worldview has changed. I do not struggle as much with self-love and self-acceptance as it pertains to my sexual orientation. Hence, I want to acknowledge and debunk these myths and share the wisdom I have gleaned from my personal experiences in order to help other LGBTQI individuals on the path to recovery, healing, self-acceptance, and self-love.
Drawing from my personal experience as a bisexual woman as well as conversations I have had with LGBTQI individuals, I will explore some myths. A major bisexual myth I once believed in was that I had to have sex with and romantic relationships with both men and women in order to prove and identify my bisexuality. Having this perspective made me feel like I couldn’t identify as bisexual, which made it difficult for me to allow myself to accept that I was queer. This myth stalled my coming out for a long time, until I had a conversation with a queer friend who informed me that this was untrue. She said that I don’t have to prove my bisexuality and that my bisexuality is just as valid if I haven’t had sex or romantic relationships with both genders. You don’t have to prove your sexuality to anyone.
Another myth I’ve heard is that belonging to the LGBTQI community means that you have a mental disorder. For instance, in the previous versions of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, being queer was once considered a mental disorder, which supported this perspective. This is untrue. Being an LGBTQI individual does not mean you have a mental health disorder. There is nothing wrong with being a part of the LGBTQI community; in fact, attaining self-love and self-acceptance with your sexuality can have a lot of positive effects on your mental health and in your life in general.
These are just a few examples and there are many more myths to debunk. If you or someone you know is struggling with some of these myths or is having difficulty being a part of the LGBTQI community, you are not alone. Find out more, get support and find resources to help.