Homosexuality continues to be a cause of stigma in the vast majority of countries in the world, if not in practically all. Traditionally based beliefs, which spread an essentialist and unscientific vision of what human sexuality is, mean that for some people being homosexual means going against nature (even though that does not mean anything).
The effects of discrimination against sexual preferences outside of heterosexuality are especially strong among homosexual adolescents , who are in the process of forming their own identity and are more vulnerable to attacks that undermine their personality and prevent them from expressing themselves as they are.
Tips to Support Gay Teens
In the following lines we will see some guidelines to follow in order to help the gay adolescents in our environment feel accepted, supported and respected , as well as to ensure that they are not afraid to show their tastes and preferences as anyone else would.
1. Learn the basics about gender and sexuality
This step is essential, as it will avoid confusion in dealing with these young people. The fact that for centuries “normal” has been considered to be heterosexuality has made it associated with many other things linked to gender that have also been considered normal and socially desirable.
For example, some people understand that to be homosexual is to feel that one’s gender does not correspond to that which one’s genitals denote, or to have attitudes and actions associated with those of the opposite sex.
Thus, a distinction must be made between biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender roles. Gender identity consists of the gender to which one’s own identity is associated (although there are also people who do not identify with either), and gender roles are the set of tasks, actions, and behavioral styles that have been socially assigned to a gender.
2. Keep in mind that homosexuality is not something exotic
You can’t treat a gay teenager like a museum piece. That means behaviors like asking him a lot of questions about his lifestyle and sexual preferences. It’s one thing to worry about making him feel comfortable, and another to burden him by reminding him again and again of his orientation; in that context, it’s normal for him to feel that there’s something wrong with him.
3. Help her understand that she is not to blame for the discrimination
Unfortunately, it is still normal for homosexual people to suffer psychological or even physical attacks just because they are. But the main harmful effect of this is usually not the acute discomfort that each attack generates, but the way in which these experiences can lead to thinking about oneself. The theory of the just world explains that there is a tendency to think that in the face of clear cases of suffering, it is likely that the victim has done something to deserve it, and this also applies to self-concept.
Thus, in the face of continued attacks, the idea that if there is so much hatred it must be for a legitimate reason gains strength, and this not only undermines self-esteem, but leads to confusion about what one is and what one should do to deserve to live in peace.
4. Listen to their real concerns
Each case is unique, so you have to know how to adapt to the person you are dealing with. In the case of young homosexuals, it is easy for stereotypes to make us assume things that are not really .
Therefore, we must listen carefully to what they explain about themselves, without letting our beliefs and schemes distort the content of their message. Only in this way will we know how to support gay teens correctly and without falling into simplicity.
5. Promote their integration into groups, but do not force them
In adolescence it is very important to feel accepted by a group. Unfortunately, young people of the new generation do not have to be more respectful than adults of the diversity of sexual orientations. In fact, in the case of boys, there is a toxic masculinity that makes frequent mistreatment of those who depart from the prototype of a hard, violent and, of course, heterosexual man.
That is why it is good to help these young people who are most likely to be excluded to find a group in which they can integrate well. However, you must be respectful of their preferences and interests, and not push them into a specific group if they don’t want to.
6. Showing references beyond heterosexuality
It is very positive that adolescents find references that inspire them to develop their personality. In this sense, meeting someone who is gay and shows positive or even admirable values is beneficial because it shows that this sexual orientation does not have to be a reason to be ashamed.