Spirit Day is upon us, and over 3 million people over the world will be shining a spotlight on this anti-bullying event, wearing their purple and urging individuals and organizations to get involved in campaigns to stop bullying of LGBTQ+ youth.
A big element of this bullying focuses on these kids as they try to date and form relationships.
Adolescence. That awkward time in life, roughly between ages 13 – 18, when kids are struggling with their self-esteem, their social lives, their march toward independence, and their personal identities. And it’s a time when romantic and even sexual relationships begin to loom large on their agendas. It’s a tough time.
But it’s especially tough for queer teens because they so often become the victims of bullying as they pursue relationships. Here are some of the outcomes for them:
If it is known that they seek or have love relationships with their same gender, they are the target of abuse – verbal, digital, and even physical
Some will force themselves to have straight relationships to avoid the scorn
Some will lead “normal” teenage lives in public but seek out queer relationships online or in “shady” situations, ending up in danger or with partners who are obviously bad choices.
There are plenty of statistics related to bullied LGBTQ+ teens, as reported by GLAAD and The Trevor Project:
Over half of LGBTQ+ teens have at least contemplated suicide, and too many have followed through
Almost 80% do not feel safe on social media
70% report being verbally harassed
About 33% report having been physically threatened
A whopping 86% report that recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws and school policies have made their school lives much harder
The emotional damage of this bullying can be lifelong, when, as adults, they try to have positive dating and love relationships, even within their own gender identities and a much more tolerant environment - there’s just lots of emotional baggage.
In 2010, GLAAD introduced Spirit Day as a part of its larger campaign against bullying of members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is the third Thursday in October and has become an international day to focus on anti-bullying efforts. Along with many major corporations and organizations and celebrities, about 3 million people recognize and support this day by wearing purple and taking part in anti-bullying campaigns the world over.
This year, Taimi, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ dating app, has teamed up with GLAAD to promote recognition of Spirit Day and all that it stands for. Even though Taimi is a place for the adult LGBTQ+ population, it has always stood strong against bullying and is proud to promote Spirit Day. And because its goal is that all LGBTQ+ adults find dating and relationship happiness, it offers plenty of tips for these formerly bullied adults to find that happiness.
You enter adulthood with plenty of baggage from the trauma of being bully-victims. And this baggage can prevent you from having the healthy and positive dating relationships that you deserve. So, we have gathered a list of things you can do to overcome your earlier trauma and emerge as an adult ready to enter the dating world with optimism and positivity.
This is one of the most important things you can do. Why? Because you will develop a strong support system that validates your identity. And within this system will be those who have overcome the trauma of earlier bullying and have gone on to successful adult dating and relationships. Their journey can give you both hope and a blueprint to follow.
Where do you find these social connections? Here are a few options:
Do the research and find local organizations that meet regularly and have social events you can attend. These are primarily in larger cities, but if you are close by, this is a great option. You’ll meet up with singles and couples who are enjoying dating and relationships. That positivity is contagious. And you will feel comfortable speaking about your challenges.
Online LGBTQ+ chat rooms are a great option if you are not close to an urban area or want to remain more anonymous as you speak about your issues and challenges. A simple Google search will point you in the right direction. Join several and then narrow down to those that are the most helpful. Learning how others navigated their challenges of overcoming earlier trauma will give you solid strategies and lots of support.
Join online LGBTQ+ dating sites and apps that also have social group features. You will be at least semi-anonymous with a username and can feel comfortable joining these social groups, presenting your issues, and getting advice and support from those who have been there. Who knows? You may end up beginning a dating relationship that restores your trust and optimism that you can have healthy connections.
It’s common that LGBTQ+ adults who endured bullying during their teen years just cannot overcome their adult dating and relationship issues by their own means. If this is the case with you, then you do need to get into some professional therapy. This is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a part of your personal journey to dating and relationship health.
Therapy is so easily found today. You can search online for therapists who specialize in LGBTQ+ and bullying issues and find those you can see in person or online. It may take a few tries to find one that you connect well with, but it is worth the journey. Nothing is more important than your goal to find romantic and sexual relationships that fulfill you.
This may sound pretty superficial and unproductive, but it isn’t. These people are in the public eye. Many suffered bullying, as teens and as adults, but they have emerged to be productive successful adults and in healthy relationships. Read their stories; follow them on their accounts; use them as models for your own journey.
This may be one of the most important tips to take seriously. Plenty of LGBTQ+ adults jump into dating and relationships never having dealt with their traumatic past. Instead, you should be looking for friendships and very casual dating without seeking anything “heavy” or permanent. Your journey to a healthy dating life should be in slow, gradual steps. If you do it this way, you will develop the trust and self-confidence/esteem that grows with each positive experience.
Of course, the ideal solution is to prevent teen bullying in the first place. And that is what Spirit Day is all about. And that is why Taimi is involved. When we can eliminate LGBTQ+ bullying during teen years, we allow adults to form connections, engage in healthy dating, and ultimately find those relationships that are meaningful and long-lasting.
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