I'm demisexual—I'll explain. The first sign that I was on the asexual spectrum was back when I was in middle school. I remember driving in the car with my mom getting annoyed as I listened to the radio. Every song was about sex, love, or drugs. I didn't understand why the themes for music were so narrow. People could sing about anything, yet they would always sing about the same old things. I off-handedly said, "Why is every song about sex? Can't they sing about something else?"
The Life: LGBT
The transgender experience can be lonely. When I first began hormone replacement therapy, my doctor asked me if I had a good support system. I lied and said I did because I didn't have the time or energy to join a support group and didn't want to cause worry. Now, I think about all the hands that have reached out to me in the past that I brushed off. I believe loneliness was caused by my self-imposed social isolation.
I’m Hayes Mitchell, and I am excited to join "The Life: LGBT Mental Health" blog. I’m a mental health writer with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing with a minor in psychology. I identify as queer and transgender (trans). I began discovering my identity back in high school. Today I’m 22 and still learning about myself every day. I’ve changed my labels many times over the years. I’ve identified as bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and demisexual. I tend to withhold telling people because when I change my mind, I don’t want them to discredit my past experience. Every one of those identities has been real to me at each point in my life. I believe in gender and sexuality as being a spectrum. Everyone exists somewhere on that spectrum.
My last post examined harmful misconceptions about demisexuality (lack of sexual attraction without emotional intimacy) and how they are detrimental to the mental health of demi people. In this follow-up post, I want to talk about one of the most prevalent and harmful, yet -- in my opinion -- under-addressed issues in the queer community that causes immeasurable damage to social and mental health: biphobia.
We live in a society where casual sex is a normal part of dating culture. There is, of course, nothing wrong with a casual hookup between consenting adults, but for demisexual folks (people who only experience sexual attraction after forming an emotional connection), dating and intimate relationships can be a bit harder to navigate -- in no small part because there are still a lot of misconceptions about what demisexuality is and is not. These misconceptions not only put a strain on our relationships but on our mental health as well.
As a lesbian who lives life outside of the closet, I have experienced my fair share of shame regarding my sexual orientation and gender expression. The LGBTQIA+ mental health community does not only experience shame based upon their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. These individuals also have to navigate shame feelings stemming from trauma experienced in their pasts.
June 12th is a difficult day for me. This year it marked the five-year anniversary of the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting that snuffed out the lives of 49 queer people -- most of them Black and Latinx -- and wounded 53 others in Orlando, Florida. The deadliest act of violence against queer people in the history of the United States happened less than a month after my own coming out. I've been dealing with the emotional aftermath of that ever since. Thankfully, I've also found a transformative way to cope with it: community. (Note: This post contains a content warning.)
After living a year of pandemic life, we are beginning to resume some normalcy just in time for June, Pride Month. Many states have lifted mask mandates while more than half the country has been vaccinated. Entering the month of June, Pride Month in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc. (LGBTQIA+) community, after a year of social distancing could put a strain on our mental health. I know I have been experiencing anxiety surrounding the idea of gathering with my LGBTQIA+ community after so long apart. Here are a few ways I have been coping with this new way of life while planning to celebrate pride.
It may seem strange to talk about taking care of our mental health during Pride Month. Pride is a time of joy, fun, and liberation as we celebrate our collective history and identities as queer people. Pride is definitely something I look forward to every year (and I am not above going overboard with rainbow glitter and motifs), but it can also be an emotionally charged time as we confront the ongoing discrimination and systemic oppression that continue to impact our community and daily lives.
I identify as a lesbian in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc. (LGBTQIA+) community as a whole. My gender expression follows a more masculine route regarding clothing and hairstyle. Gender expression for many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community can lead to judgment by a society which is used to gendering things such as clothing or hairstyle. These judgments and biases can lead to fear and anxiety for those of us in the LGBTQIA+ mental health community. My anxiety was heightened for years regarding my treatment from others who may not agree or understand my gender expression.