It's a new year and for many people that means it's resolution time all over again! But what does a new year and new you mean when you're feeling invisible to the rest of the world? Many people feel invisible for a variety of reasons, especially if you happen to be one of the missing or often forgotten acronyms in the LGBTQ+ spectrum. So what are the invisible acronyms, and how do you become visible?
If you happen to identify as bisexual, chances are you've been labeled the "confused," "greedy" or "not real" sexual orientation at one point or another. Despite being a part of the queer community, bisexuals often find themselves misunderstood or misrepresented. Even within the Colorado western slope queer community that does it's best to draw attention to gay and lesbian rights, host numerous pride events, and offer safe spaces to all, bisexuals are often shuffled around and forgotten in the mix. If you find yourself in this predicament, check out the bisexual resources center (biresource.org) where you can access a wealth of information about coming out, articles, statistical reports, support groups, and much more! You can also refer to The Trevor Project website on bisexuality where commonly asked questions and answers bisexuals often encounter can be located (Trevor Support Center-Bisexual). Also check out your local Facebook listings for support groups online or locally. *NOTE: for those 18 and younger please be sure to check out age appropriateness or consult with a parent or guardian before joining any online groups.
The topic of gender has received much attention in the media over the past few years. The concept of transgender individuals has also become more common place in conversations across the nation. However, our non-binary, gender fluid, and gender queer folk(x) are finding themselves in the shadow of the trans umbrella. According to recent official statistics in the UK, 1 in every 250 people define themselves as gender non-binary (non-binary fact sheet), and of the western societies it is estimated that non-binary individuals make up approximately 25-30% of transgender populations (Society for the Psychological Study of LGBT Issues). With those statistics, it's no wonder our non-binary folk(x) are feeling out of the loop as well!
If you happen to be a parent of a non-binary child, check out "Romper,"a website that lists "6 Organizations that Support Trans and Non-Binary Youth." There are also many online forums and blogs offering supportive commentary from other fellow non-binary individuals. One really great blog called "Let's Queer Things Up!" by Sam Dylan Finch (he/him), who identifies as a self proclaimed genderqueer gayboy discusses all things queer/trans, mental health, and cats. His blog on 8 Things Non-Binary People Need to Know, is a great starting place!
LGBTQ People of Color
Other forgotten individuals also include LGBTQ+ people of color. It's challenging identifying within a minority population, but identifying in two and you might find yourself in a pickle! Check out Huffington Post's LGBT People of Color section for great articles and resources, as well as the LGBT Movement Advancement Project (MAP) that provides resources directed at the unique experiences of LGBT people of color.
These online resources are great, but what about involvement locally?
When you find yourself feeling invisible, a very important aspect to becoming visible is to make your presence known! If you are aware of local support groups such as PFLAG, local transgender or ally groups, show up and get involved! From my personal experience working in supportive communities outside of the therapeutic setting, not one of those groups are seeking to exclude any acronym of the LGBTQ+ world. If you aren't present, your needs are unknown and often go missed. So if you feel hesitant or afraid to attend on your own, go with a friend who can be supportive, or touch base with the leaders of the group or organization to find out more about what their mission and goals are. Don't let your needs go by the way side! For your voice to be heard you have to speak up and let others know you are here just as they are, and that your needs matter too!
Devin Pinkston is a local mental health counselor and Gender Therapist in Grand Junction Colorado. Call to schedule a free consultation today at 970-644-2392