November 6, 2013
We should all be able to be ourselves. Many of us have had to deal with varying forms of stigma, judgment, and discrimination in our lives. This can make it harder to feel safe and okay about who we are. Sometimes it may feel that the world is created for other people and to be part of it we need to watch what we do and don’t do.
Over the past thirty years, we have been successfully fighting for our rights with the support of our friends and allies. We have the same legal rights as straight people and there are laws and legislation that protect us. However, there are many ways that oppression or discrimination still plays out in our lives and may have an effect on our sense of safety, health and well being.
When we experience fear, hatred, and discrimination it has a real impact on us. Research is showing that when gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people experience prejudice about sexual orientation and gender identity they can have higher levels of emotional stress, shame, guilt, anxiety and feelings of isolation. This can lead us to choose to hide who we really are to avoid rejection, violence, or discrimination. Sometimes, this can also result in internalized homophobia and difficulty accepting who we are.
Many of us are dealing with multiple forms of oppression that can work together and cause additional stress. For example, those of us who are HIV positive are forced to cope with HIV stigma in our communities. Also, the current climate of criminalization of HIV non-disclosure adds another layer of stress in our lives. Trans guys have to cope with transphobia in our communities and racialized guys still have to deal with racism and prejudice both within our broader society but also in our gay communities.
The result of having to deal with these very real concerns in our lives is different for all of us. The stress that we experience can impact our health. Many studies show that we have higher rates of depression, anxiety, and substance use concerns as a result of these kinds of experiences. Research also shows that if we are experiencing these things there may be a higher possibility for HIV transmission.
We may also feel that our experiences have made us stronger. Having to fight for our rights, our right to live the lives we want, and the community we build along the way might be wrapped up in our sense of who we are and the people we have become. It can be hard to imagine what our lives would have been like without these experiences. We may be proud of how we have survived, dealt with these issues in our lives, and the community we have found. Many of us would not trade our lives as queer people for anything. Many of us feel we have richer lives, lives filled with greater purpose and lives built upon our own values and not necessarily the values we see reflected in the society around us.
How do we stay strong and build healthy coping strategies for dealing with these issues in our lives? How do we make sure that we support others who are struggling? How do we become aware and recognize the impact of HIV stigma, racism, homophobia and transphobia in our own communities?
As this website continues to develop, be sure to check back for more articles, resources and blogs by queer men near and far. This is our agenda, our place to foster a conversation, share ideas, resources, learn from each other and build a strong community network.
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