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  • Writer's pictureThe Therapy Space

Coping With An Unaccepting Biological Family as an LGBTQIA+ Individual


As an LGBTQIA+ individual (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and Other Diverse Identities), coping with an unaccepting biological family can be a deeply challenging and emotional experience. The rejection and lack of support from loved ones can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. In this excerpt, we will explore the importance of addressing this issue, provide insights into uncomfortable feelings you may encounter, offer self-help strategies, and discuss how therapy can play a crucial role in your journey towards healing and self-acceptance.


You Are Not the Only One


It is vital to understand that facing an unaccepting biological family as an LGBTQIA+ individual is not an isolated experience. Many individuals have walked a similar path and encountered similar challenges. The sense of isolation and loneliness can be overwhelming, but it is crucial to remember that you are not alone. In fact, 4 in 10 LGBTQIA+ individuals are rejected by their friends or family, making this a sadly common struggle (Hartogs, 2013.)


Understanding Uncomfortable Feelings


Living with an unaccepting biological family can evoke a wide range of uncomfortable emotions. The experience of shame, guilt, rejection, and fear can be particularly distressing. These emotions may stem from a sense of not being fully embraced and loved for who you truly are. It is important to validate and acknowledge these feelings, understanding that they are natural and valid responses to the situation. Remember, it is not your fault for being who you are and desiring acceptance from your family.


Self-Help Strategies


Building Self-Acceptance and Resilience: One powerful step towards coping with an unaccepting family is to focus on building self-acceptance and resilience. Embrace your identity, Connect with supportive LGBTQIA+ communities, both online and offline, to find solace, understanding, and a sense of belonging. Surrounding yourself with individuals who uplift and validate your experiences can help reinforce your self-acceptance.


Effective Communication: While it can be challenging, effective communication with your family members is crucial. When engaging in conversations with them, strive to be respectful, calm, and assertive. Express your feelings and needs openly, yet compassionately. Setting realistic expectations is important, as change may take time. It is essential to remember that their understanding and acceptance may evolve over time, but ultimately, you must prioritize your mental health and well-being. If your family cannot meet your needs, then it is important to set healthy boundaries for yourself. Such boundaries can include limiting discussions about your sexuality or gender identity, requesting respectful language and pronouns, establishing personal space, and choosing when and how to engage in family events.


Seeking Allies and Support: Building a support system of allies and fellow LGBTQIA+ individuals can provide immense comfort and strength. Reach out to friends, allies, or LGBTQIA+ organizations that can offer support, understanding, and guidance. Mentors or role models who have navigated similar experiences can be particularly valuable in providing insights and encouragement. Consider joining support groups or therapy sessions specifically tailored to LGBTQIA+ individuals to connect with others who have shared experiences.


Building Your Chosen Family: In the face of unaccepting family dynamics, LGBTQIA+ individuals can seek solace in chosen family. These support networks, comprised of friends, partners, and community members, become invaluable sources of understanding and support. You can frequently rely on these relationships more heavily when feeling the lack of bio-family support. Chosen family can manifest in various forms, with individuals creating unique family structures that meet their specific needs. This may involve fostering parental or mentoring relationships between older and younger community members, as well as building sibling-like relationships. Another form of chosen family can be queer-platonic relationships. These connections create a beautiful tapestry of love and support.


Therapy Can Help


Therapy can play a transformative role in coping with an unaccepting family. It offers a safe and non-judgmental space to process emotions, develop coping strategies, and gain support.

Individual therapy allows you to explore your experiences, emotions, and identity in a supportive environment.

  • Family therapy can help facilitate healthy communication, understanding, and bridge the gaps between family members.

  • LGBTQIA+-affirming therapy provides specialized support, addressing the unique challenges faced by the community.

We’re Here for You


Coping with an unaccepting family as an LGBTQIA+ individual can be an incredibly challenging journey. However, by acknowledging the prevalence of this issue, understanding the uncomfortable emotions that arise, implementing self-help strategies, and seeking therapy, you can navigate these challenges with strength and resilience. Remember, you deserve love, acceptance, and support. Reach out for help, connect with your community, and embark on your journey towards healing, self-acceptance, and a fulfilling life.


Hartogs, Jessica. “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Survey Finds Nearly 4 in 10 Rejected by Family or Friend.” CBS News. June 13, 2013. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender-survey-finds-nearly-4-in-10-rejected-by-family-or-friend/


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