Social support refers to the psychological and material resources provided by a social network to help individuals cope with stress. Such social support may come in different forms, and might involve: helping a person with various daily tasks when they are ill or offering financial assistance when they are in need.
Finding and connecting with like minded people is a basic human need, and more often than not, this need gets complicated when there is a lack of understanding, especially for people belonging to the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
It is important to note that “coming out” with one’s identity takes a toll mentally and while their biological family takes time to adjust to the ‘new’ concept, the individual who by themself is trying to sail through tough waters should have a chosen family. A chosen family may have friends and peers who can help them navigate their boat. This becomes even more prominent if the biological family tries to ‘convert’ their child or abandon them for being who they are.
In such cases, an individual’s mental health is prone to suffer a lot. For the LGBTQIA+ folks, it’s almost a given that mental health starts deteriorating at some point. This is hugely because they don’t grow up as themselves, they grow up playing a version of themselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise humiliation and prejudice. The massive task of their adult life, thus becomes to find and pick their parts that are truly theirs and remove the ones that they had created to protect themselves.
The Hijra and the Kinnar communities are not the third gender (as our government says). They were a social group mainly formed by intersex people who were thrown out of their houses because society’s unsaid rule is, if you can reproduce, you can stay. Many trans women, who were thrown out of their houses, used to become a part of such a community to gain social support, even if that meant a life that’s harder to obtain resources. With the rise of organisations and NGOs who are working for the upliftment of all the social support groups, including the Hijra and Kinnar communities, there is some, albeit not much, change in the way their lives function.
Similarly, non binary, gender non-conforming, and homosexuals are hugely discriminated against for either their mannerisms or the gender they are attracted to, or both. If we add other layers of marginalisation to it (like caste), accessing support groups and mental health looks unreachable.
So, if you have just come out, to yourself or a friend or family member, reach out to support groups, both online and in person, or join a safe online space to talk about your story or just read others’ stories. These definitely make people feel less lonely and, in some ways, validate how they feel about themselves, whether it’s because of discrimination or because of their sexual or gender identity. Conversations about intersectionality, allyship, and education about the LGBTQIA+ community are one substantial way to pave the path for those who fear abandonment. The LGBTQIA+ community deserves all of this and much more.