Growing up As an LGBTQ+ Individual Without Representation in The Media
If you think having a role model & seeing people who are like you isn't important when you are growing up you are wrong.
The power of the media is strong & whatever the message is you grow up with is the one that can either help or damage.
Growing up as a lesbian asexual I had no role models. I heard about lesbians once in a while, but I never saw them on TV shows. I never heard about asexuals & I never saw them on TV shows (I still don't.)
What it Was Like Growing Up as a Lesbian Asexual Without LGBTQ+ Representation In The Media
Realising My Sexuality
I discovered my lesbian feelings long before I knew that I was an asexual.
It happened when watching “The New Statesman” (a British comedy series with Rik Mayall as Alan B’stard a very evil politician & Marsha Fitzalan as his wife Sarah.) In this series Sarah was bisexual & shared some loving lesbian scenes in the show. No sex scenes, but true loving scenes, that were a contrast to the other things that happened in this series.
These scenes made me realise that I felt the same about women.
The problem was, after that, there was nothing: I never really saw a lesbian again for ages, except for stereotypical butches in prison dramas & as the butt of jokes in comedy shows. This made me doubt myself again.
Then, when I realized my asexuality things got worse: I was both the sexualities worthy of either mocking or ignoring.
How A Lack of Representation in The Media Impacted My Life
Because there was no-one like me I lived through a difficult puberty & then locked myself away for the best part of a decade. I tried changing who I was, as I never felt good enough as a woman, as a lesbian & as an asexual.
I went through years of self-loathing, to the point I started to mentally deny my own existence.
I wasted so many chances & a career, only because I was brainwashed by the media into thinking I was worthless & nothing.
Subtle messages can harm you if you are exposed to them long enough. They can weaken you, break down your self respect & worth. The saddest thing is that often you are not even aware of it happening to you. You only realise what happened when you look back.
Feelings of Self-Doubt & Insecurity
Growing up without role models has left me confused & insecure. To this day I often think; am I doing this right? What should I feel about this? Is there anyone like me?
The internet has taught me that there are millions of people like me around the world. Well, not exactly like me, but we all have similar problems.
I'm Not Alone & You're Not Alone
Realising I wasn't alone was the biggest break-trough I ever head.
I read & read & found women like me: confused & hurt because the media told them that they were not good enough, that they had to change their core to fit in. I went on a journey of self discovery & also started to do a study in psychology, at first to help find peace & self acceptance and later to help others.
My Mission: To Help Others
Healing my inner-self before starting to help others was important as I needed strength for me so I had strength for everyone.
Slowly I remembered who I was & who I always wanted to be. One day I woke up & found I was fed up with it; I didn't want to live like this anymore. I am who I am & no-one can change me: not even me. I wanted to be part of the world, learn, rebuild myself & catch up on so much lost time.
The Consequences of Ignoring LGBTQ+ Individuals
This is what happens when your inner you is ignored.
When you have to live without visibility & role models. This is why I decided do my duty to help & reach out: I am now an agony aunt for The Gay UK, an online magazine for the LGBT (& now A). In this magazine I give help & advice to Queer youth in need. I am also writing a book on being Asexual with help from other asexuals in the community.
I want to help where I can to raise awareness of the LGBT AND A (!) community put myself out there so others can see they are not alone. I want to show that no matter what, one day you'll find yourself & things will get better. True, the pain never completely leaves but there is hope too!
Keep Hope In Your Heart & Keep on Fighting
There is still a long road ahead of us where acceptance is concerned & looking at countries like Chechen, lesbians being constantly attacked & harassed, the recent murder of Karar Noshi, the rise of homophobia because of new Nazi-ism & homophobic islamic groups it sometimes looks as if we're going backwards. Especially when you see that more & more lesbian bars & magazines are being closed because advertisers are still thinking that lesbians are not viable customers.
Lesbian erasure is real! This is so disheartening sometimes, but it should also be fuel for us to fight back harder.
When I say fight, I don't mean we should be violent, as we all know by now; that doesn't work. Educate, get our story, our movies ourselves seen & heard. Already, on the internet there is a treasure trove of work made by people to raise visibility: music, stories, videos, & art. Finding this is a wonderful comfort for those feeling as if they are not part of society.
So one step forward, two steps back but we will get there & worldwide legalisation of gay & lesbian marriage would be a great boost for all of us.
Knowing you have the right to love & marry whoever you want makes you feel as if you belong and are part of society. It would be wonderful if this could happen for my Australian brothers & sisters. It would be a wonderful message of love & support to LGBT around the world in a politically dark time.
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About The Author - Dannii Cohen
Dannii Cohen is a former stand-up comedian & comedy writer turned author, psychologist, professional counselor, life coach & self-help expert.
She is specialised in LGBTQ+ issues, anxiety, women’s issues, female empowerment, & bullying. Dannii writes for Goal Cast, Life Hack, The Feminine Collective, She Knows & The Gay UK. She is the author of 50 Things To Know To Have A Better Life, which was released this year. Her book Being Ace will be published late 2017 or early 2018.