Team Leader, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind
Wait, you’re a lesbian? is a common phrase I hear at least a few times a week. As a “heterosexual-passing woman” I am often placed into a box by others that is hard to escape, and one which I shouldn’t have be placed in. Coming out (disclosing your sexuality) is a difficult and sometimes traumatic experience that can be filled with homophobia (prejudice or discrimination), therefore I don’t always correct everyone who get’s it wrong.
This has at times taken a toll on my mental health and I know many others who also experience this. Knowing I am not alone, has helped me to seek peer support from the LGBTQIA+ community and share stories about my own journey.
Being a lesbian doesn’t cause mental health problems, but this discrimination, the coming out process and exclusion can cause difficulties in wellbeing.
Working for Coventry and Warwickshire Mind and as a trustee for Coventry Pride I come across a lot of people struggling and they are concerned about seeking support for fear of discrimination.
I strive to ensure I am an accepting and affirming practitioner and as a Team Leader I am training my team to be the same.
At Mind I have had the pleasure of supporting LGBTQIA+ clients and bring my own understanding and experience to empathise and collaborate to establish the right type of support/care.
For anyone struggling with their mental health, particularly those in the LGBTQIA+ community, I’d recommend practising self-care. Internalised and external discrimination or homophobia may mean this is hard, however, it’s so important to take small steps to be kind to yourself. You are valid, you are important, and you are worthy of receiving support and kindness.
Online resources are also really useful and can be a great addition to seeking support (see links below).
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Being a lesbian doesn’t define me as a person, it is only part of my identity. I am a lover of the TV show Friends, I enjoy creating artwork and going to the seaside. I work in the mental health sector and volunteer my time to other charities like Coventry Pride to increase awareness, support and bring my own learning and expertise to develop and improve the experience of other LGBTQIA+ people.
I hope during Pride month you are able to celebrate who you are and what makes you, ‘you’!