Some of us who identify as LGBT+ experience issues of anxiety and depression, which are often due to discrimination, bullying and hate crime. We might also experience rejection, negative reactions or hostility from family members, friends, strangers, employers or members of a faith community. This can have a big impact on our self-esteem and mean we might feel unable to be open about our sexual or gender identity at work, at home or in the world at large.

We might feel estranged, isolated and detached from our surroundings, which perpetuates feelings of loneliness.

A 2017 Government issued Public Health Matters article stated that “52% of young LGBT people reported self-harm either recently or in the past, compared to 25% of heterosexual non-trans young people. And 44% of young LGBT people have considered suicide, compared to 26% of heterosexual non-trans young people.” This suggests that young LGBT+ people are experiencing almost twice as many issues with their mental health as the general young population.

It’s especially hard when sexual or gender identity comes into conflict with faith, as this can leave LGBT+ people of faith feeling lost. Queer Eye star Bobby Berk spoke out in 2018 about his complex relationship with religion: “the church continues to make gay people feel unwelcome… and make somebody who is in their late 30s still have so much pain from those situations that they won’t even go into a church.”

When we feel rejected and isolated it’s easy to develop issues with our self-esteem and we can tend to blame ourselves for being different, or completely shut ourselves off to the idea of religion. It’s important to remember that there are many faiths and groups which embrace a diverse community of people. One local religious spokesperson recently said “I would certainly not suggest (to people) that they repress their sexual identity as a requirement of faith. I am confident, we offer warm welcome and a supportive environment for anyone, of whatever sexuality, who wants to join us in working out what faith means for each of us.”

There are many different faiths and branches of religion and many of them are welcoming to everyone; for anyone who is feeling anxious or upset about their sexuality and their faith, talking to someone you trust could help. Check out this link to hear about how these people deal with the relationship between religion and their sexual and gender identity https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/lgbt-muslims-christians-jews-stonewall-beliefs-god-faith-role-models-lifestyle-gay-lesbians-trans-a7666846.html

 Another issue faced by some LGBT+ people is estrangement or hostility from family and friends who are struggling to accept their identity. This can be very difficult for LGBT+ people, because they can be made to falsely feel like they are the issue. The LGBT+ organisation Stonewall says “It can be difficult if the people you care about have a hard time accepting who you are. Everyone's coming out journey is different.”

It isn’t unusual to suffer anxiety when we feel alone and estranged from our loved ones. However, there are many ways to combat feelings of loneliness - whether that be joining a local LGBT+ group where people can meet and talk to others who’ve had similar experiences, or simply keeping up hobbies, and forming other meaningful and trustworthy relationships.

There are many groups and forums in Sheffield and the surrounding areas which give information about LGBT+ issues. Visit http://www.lgbtsheffield.co.uk to find the perfect group for you!

If you are experiencing discrimination at work due to your sexuality then visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/government-equalities-office for more advice.