Sexual identity encompasses the spectrum of our emotional, physical, sexual, and romantic attractions that individuals have toward others of the same and/or other genders. Sexual identity is fluid and can shift throughout the lifetime.
Our students who identify as queer, non-heterosexual, questioning, etc. can experience a variety of stressors. These can be stressors common to the broader VCU community (academic stress, finances, adjusting to college), as well as stressors more specific to their sexual identity (e.g. coming out, identity erasure, discrimination, etc.)
- Minority stress refers to the experience of additional stressors (e.g., heterosexism, cissexism, racism) that people of marginalized groups (e.g., people of color, queer folks) experience.
- Minority stress is associated with higher rates of anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, and psychological distress
- Stressors or challenges that may arise for those who identify as queer, non-heterosexual, questioning, etc.:
- Decisions about coming out or not coming out (to family, friends, etc), as well as decisions to be out in some spaces and not others
- Housing insecurity
- Experiences of discrimination, microaggressions, physical harm
- Job and career challenges related to identity (such as how out to be in the workplace)
- Erasure of identity – occurs when the experiences and identities of individuals within an already minoritized group are erased from the broader group experience (e.g. those who identify as asexual, bisexual, pansexual, non-monogamous, etc.)
- Intersections of sexual orientation with other identities (e.g. gender identity, religious/spiritual identity, race, ethnicity, etc.) and difficulties finding acceptance within those varying communities
- Navigating healthy sexual and/or romantic relationships
- Experiences of harassment
If you are experiencing any of the above concerns, or want to further explore your sexual identity, you can reach out to UCS to access therapy services or inquire about our Rainbow support group. Check out the resources below for further support.