The shooter told people he was enraged by seeing 2 guys kissing, an outward sign of the affection and love those 2 felt for each other, but also the safety they felt in that space to express themselves. Sexual minorities face similar backlash for both what is seen publicly, and what is perceived to happen privately; judgement based on sexual expression; and made to feel shame, unfortunately sometimes even common within the community.
Perhaps the reaction has emboldened some to be more visible, to be less quiet and to be more explorative; a fuller, more authentic expression of self. For some, it may lead to avoidance or hiding from fear. How do we cope with this?
Not ironically, for the LGBTQ+ community, sexuality is something defining, in its identity and expression. Sexuality consists of sex, and sex - consensual only - can be a coping strategy, regardless of with whom or how. It is about connecting with another person and feeling close, with or without strings. In these moments of distress, pain, marginalization, etc. etc., experiencing that closeness and intimacy are comforting; denying these things only exacerbates the problem. So why not celebrate your own sexuality - whatever that may be - and experience it in a way that is fitting and safest for you? The LGBT community was hated for what it was, hiding it, disregarding it is not pride or self love or even self care. Not everyone is ready to be “out of the closet,” but we - LGBTQ+ populations, the kink and fetish population and allies - do need to foster an environment where people feel safe to be and express ourselves as we are.
Sex and intimacy become a lose/lose situation when someone is shamed for how they go about finding and getting these things or avoiding them all together. These can become vicious cycles that feed more shame and larger problems.
Certainly hook up apps and sex can lead to larger problems, but there is a difference in why. When someone feels out of control - and that's from your own subjective, personal perspective - it can interfere with your functioning and the myriad other ways you can connect with people. But that does not make the hook up apps the cause, nor does it mean the people using them have a problem. It does mean there are people who finding their sexual expression in different places.
People can only make changes when they feel they are having a problem, which is why shaming and violence don't lead to positive change. In fact, it is empathy, support and acceptance that leads to change in behaviors within sexuality, but sexuality is pretty much set.
Maintaining ourselves means
• appropriate self care. It requires some insight into ourselves as well as support from others if we find ourselves feeling out of control.
it means seeking out community and safe spaces. This is LGBT Pride month, so take part in some way; be visible and let the people around you express themselves.
be a support for someone and feel how you are supporting yourself by doing so.
• keeping our safe spaces safe. That doesn't mean exclusion, but it does mean supporting them and it does mean people who not in that community respecting these spaces for those it is meant to serve.
This Topic of the Week was written by Brian Swope, MFT.
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