For LGBT people, vocalizing stresses resulting from societal marginalization may induce fear of being judged. Their observations may be looked upon with confusion or doubt by listeners, followed by uncomfortable silences or invalidating remarks. The LGBT person may start internalizing doubts or judgements. At times, even heterosexual allies’ faces go blank when subjects of oppression and discrimination are brought up. They may not know what to do with the information given, or they may doubt what the LGBT person is communicating.
Research published by the Williams Institute addresses the daily stress of being LGBT. This research validates that LGBT people experience increased stress as a result of being LGBT in our society. For example, even if a person who comes out to their family is accepted and loved, the amount of anxiety experienced by the individual about the possibility of the family shunning them, being uncomfortable, or treating them differently, is wearing. The stress of operating in a society built for heterosexual people is constant.
Here is the summary of this research:
This study examined the effects of exposure to everyday experiences of inequality. It finds that stigma and social inequality can increase stress and reduce well-being for LGB people, even in the absence of major traumatic events such as hate crimes and discrimination…..Subjects reported estrangement from families, failure to complete schooling, and isolation in the workplace. “Imagine living life anticipating exclusion from your friends, family and professional circles simply because of who you are and who you love – that resulting stress takes a toll on one’s life and health,” says co-author Dr. Ilan Meyer.
Reference: Meyer, I.H., Ouellette, S.C., Haile, R., & McFarlane, T.A. (2011). “We’d Be Free”: Narratives of Life Without Homophobia, Racism, or Sexism. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 8, 204-214. DOI: 10.1007/s13178-011-0063-0
Often LGBT people don’t know that their depression, fear, or anxiety is linked to being LGBT in a culture that does not socially support LGBT people. They think there is something wrong with them because they are anxious or depressed.
The daily stresses of LGBT people are often invisible experiences that are not able to be communicated to or understood by the dominant culture. For LGBT people, recognizing that their feelings about their sexuality or gender identity are not something wrong with them, can be liberating. When LGBT individuals stop battling themselves and focus on the reality of the situations they are in, they can concentrate on becoming stronger and healthier, which will result in more accepting environments for the LGBT community.