We’re living at a time in which the labels surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community are becoming an increasing part of the popular lexicon. This is a positive progression, as it can open up wider discussions and give people the language they need to talk about their experiences and those of others. These labels can also have an impact on deeply personal levels.
By identifying with a specific LGBTQIA+ label, you can find significant benefits for your mental wellness. This isn’t about placing yourself into a definitive box that is convenient for others. Rather, there are various ways your identity serves your emotional and psychological needs. Some of these you may not be fully cognizant of until you explore them further.
So, let’s take a moment to examine the importance of finding this personal truth in the context of improving your mental health.
Gaining a Sense of Self
One of the most important outcomes of connecting to an LGBTQIA+ label is gaining a greater sense of self. This doesn’t mean that the label entirely defines who you are by any means. But, it can certainly help to give you valuable insights into the aspects that inform who you are. There are really no downsides to having more solid information about yourself.
So, how does this help improve your mental health? Well, having a greater understanding of who you are and what is important to you shapes various aspects of your life. Indeed, not having clarity on where you fall on the spectrum of sexuality may have been a significant cause of anxiety and stress. This might have had knock-on effects on your personal, social, and even professional experiences. Gaining a sense of your identity doesn’t necessarily solve these issues but it gets you on to a positive path you can explore further.
Another mental health benefit of gaining a greater sense of self is confidence. While you may still have questions regarding what your identification means for your life, it can resolve a certain amount of personal conflict. This is one reason why pride is such a vital part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Your stronger sense of self can be empowering when you accept and embrace it.
Locating Your Community
A powerful result of identifying with an LGBTQIA+ label is a greater connection with a supportive community. This doesn’t mean that you’ve necessarily felt separated from society or ill at ease with it before discovering the niche label to describe your sexual preferences. But you now have the opportunity to meaningfully connect with others who may share similar experiences.
From a mental health aspect, this is a key advantage. There’s a long history of theory linking the importance of social support to psychological and emotional wellness. In both professional and personal situations, it is vital everyone has a network of supporters sharing mutual trust and compassion. Even if you consider yourself to be relatively introverted, isolation can be disruptive. As such, your connections to a relevant niche in the LGBTQIA+ community can be invaluable.
However, it’s important to recognize that your identity doesn’t automatically result in a community. You still need to go through the social process of reaching out, making connections, and building genuine relationships. However, the label you embrace can help in identifying social and support networks you may be able to both utilize and contribute to. Indeed, contributing to a support network can aid your mental wellness by providing you with an additional sense of self-worth.
Finding Your Voice
There can be a sense of revelation in identifying with an LGBTQIA+ label. You can find that you gain a better understanding of your needs and indeed the hurdles you may face. Importantly, it can also bolster your voice for expressing who you are and addressing challenges. From a mental health perspective, this can empower you to reduce unnecessary areas of strain in your life. Not to mention, it tends to offer a greater sense of freedom.
For instance, your understanding of how your identity impacts your life can help you to vocalize your needs in public spaces. In the workplace, you can provide insights to your employers about how they can make the workplace more LGBTQIA+ inclusive. This can be particularly important if you fall into a category traditionally underrepresented in the workplace. Cisgender women attracted to female-presenting people, trangender people, and those on the ace or aro spectrum can often find their specific needs overlooked. Any improvements your insights inspire help to strengthen your day-to-day experiences and mental wellness.
The same can also apply to medical settings. A lot of patients experiencing medical anxiety find this can be caused by previous negative experiences. Alongside limiting access to healthcare there can be distressing cognitive and behavioral symptoms that go along with this.
Unfortunately, discrimination is one of the most common healthcare hurdles for LGBTQIA+ patients, with transgender patients experiencing high levels of mistreatment. Having an understanding of your identity can empower you to ask potential medical providers relevant questions to better establish from which you’ll receive the most empathetic and supportive treatment. This can mitigate anxiety and ensure you get the care you deserve.
Identifying with an LGBTQIA+ label is more powerful than simply falling within a category. It can also bolster your mental wellness. You may gain a greater sense of self that bolsters your confidence and self-worth. There are opportunities to connect with the most relevant communities for support. It may also influence your ability to vocalize and address your needs. Determining a label isn’t a solution to challenges, though. Rather, it’s better to consider it a positive milestone on your journey to self-discovery.