LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (one’s sexual or gender identity), Intersex, and Asexual/Aromantic/Agender  (LGBTQIA+ or Queer).

“A 2016 review of research found 17% of LGB adults had attempted suicide during their lifetime, compared to 2.4% of the general U.S. population.”  — UCLA School of Law Williams Institute

“LGBTQ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but rather placed at higher risk because of how we are mistreated and stigmatized in society.”  — The Trevor Project

(Content warning: family struggles/alienation, foster care, bullying, work struggles, religion, law enforcement, military, politics, supreme court, conversion therapy, riots, militant groups, physical assault, hate crimes, death sentence, and murder)

Possible Traumas

After years of struggles, I accepted that I was gay in 1989 at age 20, and told my family and friends soon after.  I know there has been a lot of progress socially in the US, since 1989.  But, doing research for this article reminded me, that a lot of people still suffer many and varied traumatic events because they are Queer. For those who are interested in more information, I am going to list some of the statistics I found, at the end of this article, including links to the source articles.

Almost everything I reference in this article is about struggles within the last ten years.  Because, yes, social acceptance has gotten better since the 1900s, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and ’80s, but social acceptance, equality, and safety are still concerns.

Growing up and living, actually just being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one’s sexual or gender identity), intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender  (LGBTQIA+ or Queer) in the USA has many possible traumas including, but not limited to:

Friends, Family and Foster Care

  • -friends or family struggles
  • -friends or family rejection
  • -friends or family alienation
  • -Queer people in foster care can face unaccepting foster parents, foster siblings, group home staff and residents

School, Religion and Work

  • -school bullying
  • -workplace harassment
  • -hiring and workplace discrimination
  • -lower wages
  • -religious discrimination
  • -religious persecution and expulsion
  • -religions promoting and funding campaigns for anti-Queer laws
  • -Queer law enforcement officers harassed by co-workers
  • -Queer firefighters harassed by co-workers
  • -Queer Enlisted Military harassed by fellow enlisted personnel

Government

  • -Government officials and elected representatives saying stigmatizing statements
  • -Government officials and elected representatives working to create anti-Queer laws
  • -US Supreme Court decisions about Queer rights

Strangers and Businesses

  • -social harassment
  • -conversion therapy
  • -renting, and housing loan discrimination and higher interests rates
  • -law enforcement officers hostile toward Queers
  • -Active Threats and Conspiracy to Riot by Conservative Militant Groups against the Queer Community
  • -Hate crimes: verbal harassment, sexual harassment, physical harassment, and murder.

There are still about TEN COUNTRIES in the world where BEING GAY can be LEGALLY PUNISHED BY DEATH.

In the US, in 2022, every Queer person alive lives knowing friends, family, strangers, co-workers, religious people, law enforcement officers, firefighters, politicians, hate groups and more could be hostile, rejecting to homicidal.

Even one and certainly any combo of these possible traumas can cause fear and internal struggles causing more internal turmoil and trauma.

These ONGOING and INESCAPABLE traumatic events, even just the possibilities, could cause Complex PTSD.

Traumatic events from my brother and mother

About 1990, my brother told me, that if I ever brought a lover home; he saw what to do in a movie.  He would take them out behind a farm building and kill them.  After that, I barely spoke to him for two years.

During that same visit, my brother’s friend, the best man in my brother’s first wedding told me, that when he was in the military, he used to seduce gay men up to a hotel room.  Then with military buddies, they would strip the gay man, wrap them in duct tape, fill the man’s car with ice and then place the duct-tape-bound man in his car on the ice.   My brother and his friend laughed.  I was horrified.

After 25 years of acting accepting, my mother removed me from her legal will ten days before she died.  I think this was connected to her own implicit bias against me and the internal, religious, and social struggles she had because I am gay.  (Details of this story at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH6Wt1pchefOSB-IRo2R0hA/videos “My Dysfunctional Family Implodes.  I am set Free.”)

Some of my Queer traumatic events

In 1992, in Madison, WI, I saw four men pick up a concrete planter and throw it onto the hood of a car in the parking lot of a gay bar.  I didn’t even think to call law enforcement, because that is just what happens to us.

In 1994, in Milwaukee, WI, a friend and I met at a chili joint to talk about my recent trip.  As we left the restaurant, a man followed us, and threw a glass beer bottle on the ground behind us, so the broken glass bounced up and hit our legs, while yelling, “Fucking Fags.”

In 1995, in Madison, WI, I walked out of a grocery store past a car that was parked by the door.  As I walked in front of the car, they revved their engine and yelled, “Fucking Faggot” as I walked on.  I was alone, in sweats, and just bought milk; an ordinary living life activity.   We never know when harassment will happen or how far it will go.

In 2010, in Lone Rock, WI, I volunteered and created two small low-maintenance, ornamental, deep-mulch demonstration food gardens at the Lone Rock Library, with all of the food going to the community.  I also volunteered to lead a few educational presentations at the library explaining the gardens.  The gardens were cited with a fire code citation and removed.  I asked, begged, and demanded an explanation as I was teaching this kind of gardening around the Midwest as a part-time business.  If these gardens were a fire hazard, I needed to know. The Lone Rock Fire Department would not respond to my certified letters requesting an explanation.  Instead, they had their lawyer respond to me with side-stepping deflections.  Confirmation eventually got back to me that this was done because I am gay.

Local Murder

On June 18, 1995, in Livingston, WI, Norman Bennett was violently murdered and discarded.  I know one of Norman’s relatives who told me of the murder.  Family and society assumed Norman was gay.  Criminal charges were minimal.  Some of the details of the murder are in this public article:  https://casetext.com/case/state-v-tanner-77

Mental Health/Illness Symptoms

The Queer community is in a neglectful and abusive relationship with society.  We probably know which friends and family members accept us or don’t.  We never know what stranger may become abusive, where or at what time.  Hypervigilance is required when out in public.

The queer community has higher rates of:

  • -depression
  • -anxiety
  • -alcoholism
  • -drug use
  • -suicidal ideation, attempts, and completions.

Foster Care and a Queer Group Home

I spoke with Jean Northway from Courage MKE, a LGBTQIA+ youth group home   https://www.couragemke.org/.  Many queer people in foster care homes and group homes have trouble with placements because even vetted foster parents and group home staff still have levels of not accepting queer behaviors, while they accept the heterosexual version of the same behavior.

Keeping any secret is hard.  We talked about having to hide a part of “who you are” in certain situations is very hard and damaging to one’s self-image.  When a person has to keep a part of themselves a secret, this takes a toll on the person.  In the group home Courage MKE, they work so every person does not have to hide any part of who they are.  With this goal, compared to the state average youth stay at group homes in Wisconsin, their residents are staying with Courage MKE 211% longer.

Possible CPTSD, unaware, undiagnosed and/or misdiagnosed

I cannot diagnose people; yet, I suspect there are a lot of Queer people living with low level up to diagnosable Complex PTSD.

CPTSD is caused by ongoing trauma that one feels one cannot escape from.  From the possible traumas listed above, it is obvious that traumas to Queer people can come from any and every aspect of life and continue happening throughout life.

Part of why Queer people don’t realize the traumas that are happening is because this is just life and we have numbed ourselves to dangers and just live with it.  We have no other choice.

These are some of the top symptoms of CPTSD:

  • -intimacy problems
  • -guilt/shame
  • -anger or feeling numb
  • -relationship problems
  • -emotion regulation problems
  • -feeling worthless.

If you are a queer person and live with some or all of these symptoms, there is help.  The first screener I know of for CPTSD is the International Trauma Questionnaire at https://www.traumameasuresglobal.com/itq.   There is a lot of information on this blog, on the CPTSD Foundation’s website, and on the internet.  In this video, I talk about the questions on two screeners that apply to CPTSD, the Adverse Childhood Experience subject questions and the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Check List – Civilian (PCL-C) at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT2sARgB3iQ.  There is help and life can get better.

P.S.

Writing this article was more difficult for me than I expected.  I came out in 1989 and my life is most comfortable as a gay man.  Yet, I know there are dangers in society.  Since 2014, when I was accurately diagnosed with CPTSD, I have mostly focused on the traumas from my family.  I have some new things to examine, after writing this article.

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