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Helping a LGBT friend with self-acceptance

Hi guys,

 

This is my first time using these boards and I've been pushed into action by the sight of my friend struggling with their sexuality. They have expressed to me the knowledge that they are same sex attracted but are yet to "accept it" (their words). Being same sex attracted myself, at first I thought I could offer the kind of support and experience that might help them.

 

That is, until I realised they are encountering struggles I never had to deal with and thus try as I might cannot fully grasp, specifically the issue of religion. From what I can gather they are unable to reconcile their sexuality with their spirituality. It would appear that their spirituality is also strongly tied to their sense of community; family, friends and social activities are often centred around their religion.

 

My friend is at a place where right now I have to wait until theyre ready before I offer them the kind of help they truly need, so I guess what I'm hoping to find here is someone who can help me understand what it might be like for them and the specific struggles they might be fighting. Any advice to do with self acceptance would be great really! 

 

Thanks in advance! Smiley Happy

Re: Helping a LGBT friend with self-acceptance

well i think all you can do is be really supportive and tell her u will be there for her anyway and just tell her your always down for a chat 24 7 its the best u can do

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Re: Helping a LGBT friend with self-acceptance

Hey Martel,

 

I am probably as well placed as anyone to help here as I was brought up in a very religious (Catholic) family, well to Catholic schools the whole way, and had a really hard time through my late teens and early 20s dealing with the fact i was gay. I eventually came out when I was about 23, but not before a lot of reflection, heartache, shame and loads of religious guilt. I am in my 30s now and don't have any religious faith anymore - but I still respect and admire what other people (gay and straight) get out of it.

 

I totally relate to your friend saying they know they are gay, but they aren't ready to "accept it" yet. It takes time to wade through all the issues and find out who you are and where you stand. I think a lot of people also assume that by accepting your homosexuallity you have to  renounce your faith - but it's never that simple. A lot of gay people (and it sounds like your mate is one of them) get so much out of their faith, and just because they are gay they don't see any reason why they should have to chose one or the other. Nor should they!

 

Ultimately, religion is an intensely personal thing, and your friend is just going to need to work their way through all their own confusion and mixed messages that the churches give out - but don't think for a second that just because you aren't religous you can't help them. Just be there to listen and give them an encouraging hug whenever they need it, that's the best thing any friend can do.

Re: Helping a LGBT friend with self-acceptance

Hi martel

 

Here's an extra resource your friend might find helpful. It's an easy + funny + serious read. Shouldn't be too hard to find a local copy from a public library. Check out trove.nla.gov.au/ - it's a nationwide catalogue which will tell you which libraries in your state have a copy.   

 

The God Box (2007), a novel by Alex Sanchez, focuses on the conflict and friendship between two Christian teenage boys, one openly gay and the other struggling to accept his sexuality

 

All of Alex Sanchez's novels are great ! I think all of them revolve around gay characters. If you do end up reading it, let me know what you think. 

 

Cheers

Re: Helping a LGBT friend with self-acceptance

Hi guys,

 

Thanks for all the advice! Smiley Happy

 

BennyW, it's good to hear from someone with a smiliar background and good to see you came through it all. You're very correct, many people seem to see it as a choice between one or the other and that's exactly how my friend seems to view it. I hope they'll be able to see there need not be a choice between one or the other. 

 

If it's not too much/too personal, may I ask how those close to you who shared that strong religious background reacted when you came out? I feel like for my friend the issue is less what God/Jesus says about homosexuality and more what their religious peers say about it that's causing the greatest angst. I'm going to strive my best to show them that no matter what they've got a friend in this. Smiley Happy

 

Fosterthepeople, that sounds like a great read! I'm going to have to find it! Anything like that that my friend may be able to relate to is a bonus. Thanks!

 

Re: Helping a LGBT friend with self-acceptance

Hey Martel,

 

Don't mind you asking at all. For me it was really only my older relatives - and really of them I only cared what my parents thought. My mum is a very religious person with a strong faith that has served her well over the years. I think my sexuality was initially hard for her to accept because I think it was hard for her to equate it with her faith. I think it took her some time to get used to it, not so much me being gay, but more the conflict between loyalty to her child and to her church.

 

I can't speak for her, but I suspect that down the track a few years, as I result of that and probably a bit of disillusionment with some of the church's other questionable stances (hiding child abuse etc), I think her faith has probably shifted to be more about God and spirituality than it ever was... but a bit less about the church as an institution . 

 

Does that answer your question?