May 1, 2014
A funny thing happened to me strolling into a chat one day, a guest was questioning their sexual orientation. They had lived their entire lives heterosexual, never thinking of the same sex as an option, and suddenly met the person of their dreams… someone of the same sex. It was confusing for them and they had no idea what to do with the emotions, confusion, and stigma attached to being gay where they were from.
I get excited about chats like this. I am part of the LGBTQ+ community and most of my real world friends are as well. I know enough about that stigma and the issues that go along with all these lettered labels. By the end of the chat, the guest turned member and they had decided to throw caution to the wind and enjoy life and try not to put a label on it.
All I really did was listen. I was compassionate, understanding and validated their feelings. The conclusions they came to were completely their own, I only helped guide them. They are a happy couple now and knowing I helped them get there makes me feel like I saved the world, if only by helping one person at a time.
LGBTQ+ issues aren’t really all that different from other issues you encounter. All of the material you see on the site helping you learn about different issues, how to handle them in chats and being a better active listener can be applied to almost all LGBTQ+ chats. The difference is that their issues stem from their sexual (or non sexual as in the case of Asexual folks) orientation.
These are HUMAN issues.
You don’t have to even be an advocate to be able to effectively be an active listener in this area. You don’t even have to believe in it. You just need to afford them the same compassion you would any other member coming to you for help.
There will, however, be some issues that are unique to the LGBTQ+ community. I will outline a few of these and give you general information on each one.
1) Coming out is the process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates his or her sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with others. Coming out is a continuous process and can often be risky or difficult. (information obtained from www.hrc.org)
2) Transgender issues. This issue can be very complex and has a lot of facets, terms, identities and life altering challenges.
3) Local and World Equality issues. This includes, but is not limited to: Marriage, parenting, healthcare, careers, state/government services, laws, and even jail time or death in some countries.
4) Religion and spirituality conflicts.
5) Stereotypes that affect both self perceptions and the rest of the world.
So now you know that most issues will be the same if you really look at the situation taking the LGBTQ+ out of the equation. You also see there are some issues that are unique to the community.
The items I listed are only a small portion of issues faced everyday by millions of people worldwide.
These issues can be addressed by educating yourself, never being afraid to ask questions (even in a chat), being open-minded, being non-judgemental, and most importantly, being a good active listener.
Helpful online resources:
Please continue this discussion with us in the 7 Cups of Tea forum -in the thread entitled “LGBT Support & Resources.”
By, Chandra Worthey
7 Cups Listener: ChandraS