By Anthony Calise
I am. Those two words “I am” are the most powerful words in the universe. They are the start of who you are, how you feel, and what experiences you create for yourself. In today’s world, the LGBT community has paved the way for future generations to come, but in some way or another, some of us have felt left out. The pressures that originate within the community have left us feeling self-conscious; hiding behind the “mask”, feeling as if we have to be promiscuous to “fit in” with others, and using drugs/alcohol to feel confident in ourselves, leading to addiction.
What comes to mind when we feel self-conscious about ourselves? Body image. Body image is a huge factor in the LGBT community that leads people to depression, addiction, and eating disorders. Research shows that beginning as early as age 12, gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens may be at higher risk of binge-eating and purging than heterosexual peers. If your figure isn’t up to the standards of a Greek God, then you might as well just consider yourself a slob. Which is what individuals literally put on their Grindr/Tinder profiles! “Top only, Masc only, only into fit, no fems, etc.” How can a community that is so welcoming of everyone in theory, also be some of the most shallowest human beings I’ve ever met.
Feeling left out and using drugs/alcohol as a coping method to “fit in” is what leads to one of the deadliest epidemics that this country is facing. Addiction. According to statistics, compared to 5-10% of Americans overall, 25% of gay and transgender individuals abuse alcohol. Men who have same-sex relationships are 3.5 times more likely to consume marijuana, 9.5 time more likely to take heroin, and 12.2 time more likely to consume amphetamines, when compared to men who do not have same sex relationships.
Personally, I needed help with my own addiction. It just was not a healthy way of living for me anymore. Dealing with life on life’s terms and the emotions that come along with it were very hard for me. Hiding behind the mask was an easy escape for me and I could be anyone that I wanted to be- except for my real self. The LGBT community already has it rough with coming out and trying to fit in with society. Why make it even harder for our own to fit in?
I finally am able to say I am fine. I am loved. I am sober. I know who I am and what experience I want for myself. Go ahead and ask for help and give a helping hand. Be that someone who doesn’t judge a book by it’s cover. You can be the leader of the pack and not just follow the so-called “standards” for perfection. Be a positive example in the LGBT community. Include everyone. Finally throw that mask away, so that we can show future generations the real reason of a loving community and accepting of everyone. Let us change the “standards” for beauty and perfection by loving everyone and helping one another. We are one.