Empowering LGBTQ+ Youth to Flourish

July 19, 2023

Desi Napoles is a teenager who is making a significant impact on the world. They are a multi-talented individual who wears many hats – from being an LGBTQ+ advocate to a genderfluid editorial and runway model, a motivational public speaker, performer, clothing designer, actor, singer, host, and a social media influencer. Desi’s work has been recognized by major outlets such as The New York Times, NBC News, Teen Vogue, OUT Magazine and many others.

As an LGBTQ+ advocate, Desi uses their voice and visibility to help break down barriers and create a more inclusive society for LGBTQ+ people everywhere. They are passionate about promoting acceptance, understanding, and equality for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. They have spoken at numerous events and conferences, sharing their personal experiences and providing a message of hope and inspiration to others.

This story took place in United States

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Hey there, fellow teens! Today, let’s dive into a crucial topic that affects many of us—mental health in the LGBTQ+ community. Did you know that 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ teens experience a mental health disorder, compared to 1 in 5 for our non-LGBTQ+ peers? The discrimination, prejudice, and struggle for  acceptance we face take a toll on our well-being. That’s why it’s crucial for us to prioritize our mental  health and find ways to support each other. 

As LGBTQ+ youth, we encounter a range of mental health issues, from anxiety and depression to self harm, eating disorders, and substance abuse. But let’s dig deeper into why these challenges are more  prevalent among us. Coming out, dealing with discrimination, and facing rejection from our families are  just some of the unique stressors we face. On top of that, bullying, homelessness, and sexual violence  affect us at higher rates, making our journey even tougher. 

Uplifting LGBTQ+ Teens:
While the challenges may seem overwhelming, there are ways we can empower ourselves and support  one another to thrive.

1. Creating a Supportive Network: 
Sometimes, all we need is someone to listen and understand. That’s why it’s crucial to be there  for each other. Offering a compassionate ear, a virtual shoulder to lean on, and reminding each  other that we’re not alone can make a huge difference. Let’s also introduce ourselves to inspiring  LGBTQ+ role models through books, movies, and online communities. Seeing others who have  embraced their identities helps us feel less isolated. We can seek out local LGBTQ+ clubs or  support groups such as TREVOR Space where we can connect with peers who understand the unique challenges we face.

2. Cultivating Self-Acceptance and Confidence: 
Hey, guess what? We are incredible just the way we are! It’s important to embrace our unique qualities and know that we’re worthy of love and respect. Society may throw some negative  messages our way, but we shouldn’t let them define us. Building confidence takes time, but let’s  surround ourselves with supportive friends who uplift us and celebrate our true selves. Remember, you have a community that embraces your authentic self. Let’s practice positive  affirmations such as “I am worthy,” and “I deserve to take up space,” celebrate our achievements, and focus on our strengths. Each one of us has something valuable to offer the world.

3. Dispelling Myths and Seeking Accurate Information: 
Education is key to challenging stereotypes and breaking free from misconceptions. We need to  learn about our identities, rights, and the LGBTQ+ community’s rich history. By equipping  ourselves with accurate information, we can confidently embrace our true selves and help  others do the same. Remember, being different is a superpower, not a flaw! Let’s educate others  and foster understanding. We can engage in conversations about LGBTQ+ issues, correct  misinformation, and share our experiences to create a more inclusive and accepting society.

4. Building a Strong Support System: 
We all need a little help sometimes, and that’s okay. While friends and family play an important  role, professional mental health services are equally vital. The National Institute of Mental Health offers resources to help us find LGBTQ+-friendly therapists and support groups tailored to  our unique needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out and seek the support that can make a real  difference in our lives. Remember, you are not alone, and there is always someone ready to  support you. Let’s prioritize our mental health and well-being by seeking the help we need when we need it. 


Prioritizing Mental Health:
As a fellow LGBTQ+ teen, I want to share some strategies that have helped me prioritize my mental  health and well-being. Remember, we’re all unique, so find what works best for you:

1. Seek Supportive Communities:  
Join LGBTQ+ clubs, online forums, or support groups where we can connect with peers who  understand us. Having a safe space to share our thoughts and experiences can be incredibly  empowering. Reach out to LGBTQ+ organizations in your area (you can find one closest to you via Centerlink!) or even online communities to find your tribe. It’s important to have people around you who accept you for who you are.

2. Engage in Self-Care:  
Take time for activities that bring you joy and help you relax. Read books with LGBTQ+ representation, listen to your favorite music, go for a walk in nature, or express yourself through  writing or art. Find what makes you feel good and incorporate it into your routine. Remember,  self-care isn’t selfish—it’s essential. Taking care of yourself allows you to show up as your best  self for others.  If you need some self-care ideas, check out this comprehensive list here!

3. Educate and Advocate:  
Stay informed about LGBTQ+ rights, current events, and available resources. This knowledge  empowers us to advocate for ourselves and others. Check out organizations like the It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project for support and ways to get involved. Attend LGBTQ+ events or volunteer at local LGBTQ+ centers to make a positive impact. By raising our voices and  advocating for change, we can create a more inclusive and accepting world for future  generations. 

Mental health wellness is vital for all teens, especially those of us in the LGBTQ+ community. We face  unique challenges, but we also have the power to overcome them and thrive. Let’s support each other,  break down barriers, and create a future where every LGBTQ+ teen can live authentically and reach their  full potential. Remember, you are not alone, and together we can make a difference! Embrace your  identity, celebrate your uniqueness, and let’s shine brightly as we navigate this beautiful journey called  life. Our mental health matters, and by prioritizing it, we can create a positive and resilient community  that uplifts and supports one another.

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