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  • Writer's picture15-Minute Friendships

We Asked You: How Does Being LGBTQIA+ Impact the Way You Form Friendships?

Making friends is a uniquely personal experience and no two people form connections in the exact same way. We often repeat the statistic that 21% of LGBTQIA+ individuals experience loneliness "very often" or "every day", but what does that say about the way our community forms friendships?

We can speculate that a smaller community might lead to less opportunities for connection, and we know that LGBTQIA+ individuals tend to experience higher rates of depression and anxiety, all of which can have an impact on our ability to socialise. Data like this is very useful for getting an idea of the challenges a community faces, but we wanted to give our community a chance to have their say and get their voices heard too!

So, we took to social media to ask our friends and followers about how they feel their LGBTQIA+ identities impact the way they form friendships. Here's what they had to say.

Finding Your Tribe

"I actually feel like being a lesbian has made it easier for me to make friends. I was closeted in high school but coming out at college helped me find my tribe and get to know people just like me so it was a good thing. I'm 26 now and I'm still mates with the people I met in college and also do LGBT activities in my area that have helped me meet new people, I even met my fiancée at queer rugby!!!" - Anonymous, Wakefield.

Challenging for Introverts

"Right, I've been thinking about this for a while! I live with a few queer people but we are all like introverted gamers and idk if we'd have met if it wasn't for the house share. I'm genderfluid too and I feel like cis people are embarrassed to be seen with someone who is openly trans sometimes." - Micha, Leeds.

Easier to Find Romance than Friends

"I feel like it’s easier to find a romantic/sexual partner. It’s more definite. Like a “are we dating/ more than friends?” feels easier and more truthful than “are we/ should we be friends?”. Especially since there are varying degrees of friendship.

I also feel like there are a lot more spaces to find dates/hook ups than to build friendships. I know a lot more spaces are being formed to find and make friends, but especially if your hobbies and interests don’t translate to groups like a book club or something like that, then it can feel harder to find likeminded friends." - Anonymous, Leeds.

You Have to Screen New People

"Things I think could potentially be deal breakers to us as queer people maybe just aren't thought about as much by other people. Even something as trivial as someone not having an opinion on queer rights; you can't help but have that impact your opinion on someone as a friend.

Also, the idea that you pretty much have to come out again to anybody you meet (whether that's colleagues or friends), that can impact your friendships because there's a potential that you're going to be the first queer friend they're ever going to have.

If you're the first queer person someone has ever met, and maybe if you're in a different kind of relationship, like a poly relationship, sometimes it feels like you're tokenised or trivialised. We've had comments made about our relationship by people who have said it's basically like being single, which is a shit feeling." Anonymous queer couple, Leeds.

Searching for a New Family

"My family rejected me when I came out as trans and I didn't have any gay friends at the time, which made me feel completely alone. I was having a hard time with my mental health and speaking to a counsellor who encouraged me to attend a transgender support group. It was really sad but also kind of reassuring to see that everybody there was going through the same sort of thing.

I've never heard a straight person use the word found family before and I wonder if LGBTQ people form closer relationships when they do find their people. I'm not saying straight people don't form found families, I just think it might happen less. I've not managed to make many close gay friends yet, but I'm really hopeful that I'll be able make my own found family one day." - Anna, Leeds.

From Your 15-Minute Friendships Host

"When friendships weren't readily available to me, I had to put the work in to find them. One of the ways I was able to put myself out there and make connections was by attending LGBTQIA+ activities and events. I was always reluctant to do this because I didn't want my queer identity to be the only thing that defined me. I think I felt that way because of internalised homophobia and the fact that I'd grown up with so many straight people making out-of-pocket comments about queer people's relationships with their identities.

Now, I'm proud of my identity and realise that, while it is only one of many factors that make me who I am, it isn't something that goes away when I'm not thinking about it. There are so many wonderful ways to connect with our community available to us and I'm not letting what other people think stop me from engaging with them." - Bridie Daniels, they/them, Leeds.

Some comments have been edited slightly for brevity and spelling/grammar or transcribed from voice notes.

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