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Alok Vaid-Menon Answers Your Questions!

By Team TrevorSpace, in Blog,

Last month, we asked you to submit questions for Alok Vaid-Menon–a queer activist and artist–to answer, and share with our TrevorSpace community. After receiving over 300 incredibly insightful responses, we selected the top five most frequently asked questions for Alok to answer. 
As this is our first influencer engagement, we can’t wait to hear your thoughts, and look forward to doing more.
Read on to check out Alok’s responses to your questions!
1. What inspired you to become involved in social movements, and what has your journey to activism been like?

My aunt Urvashi Vaid was a lesbian activist and my first point of introduction to social movements. I thought her and her friends were the coolest people in the world and I wanted to be like them when I grew up. They taught me that nothing in the world was fixed, and that everything could be changed. In the beginning I had a very narrow understanding of activism. I thought it was just about attending protests or working at an NGO, but over time I've learned that there are so many different ways to create a better society. Now I focus on my art practice as a way to speak truth to power and create a more beautiful world.
2. How do you highlight the significance of intersection between your multicultural and queer identities?

Growing up I thought that I had to pick one: being Indian or being queer. Now I understand that these parts of me aren't in tension, they're in harmony. There is a rich and vibrant history of South Asian LGBTQI life and so much to be proud of. In my early twenties I moved to India to work alongside and learn from the LGBTQI Indian movement. That experience showed me that I had only inherited a super whitewashed narrative of LGBTQI life, and that there were so many other ways to look and be. That expansion of my perspective was so healing and necessary. Now I go back almost every year to India to perform and collaborate with artists. 
3. For trans, gender non-conforming, and androgynous young people, it can be really nerve-wracking to express ourselves. How have you continued to develop your style, all while maintaining confidence?

I learned that other peoples' projections are not my reality and that most of the time the negative reactions I get from other people have more to do with them than anything to do with me. Instead of waiting for other peoples' validation, I gave myself permission to express myself on my own terms. Certainly there are days where it's still difficult, but I always ask myself: Whose shame am I feeling? Whose fear am I experiencing? I remember that I was born with two lungs, a voice, and no shame. That came from other people. And I get to be free. I get to be me. 
4. What advice would you give to young queer artists looking to make their way in the world?

Find your peers and build community with other queer artists. These are people who can give you meaningful feedback, help you strategize about your career, and introduce you to new inspirations that can change your life. It can feel super lonely to be a queer artist, so having other people in your court who understand what you're going through makes the world of a difference.
5. How do you balance the negativity in society with regards to the LGBTQ community, with your own humanity as a queer person?

One thing that's been particularly helpful for me is learning more about LGBTQI history. The truth is that we've always been here and we've contributed so much to society. The more that I learn about my transcestors (my trans ancestors) the more proud that I feel to be here. Despite so many attempts to erase us, our community has persisted. The more I learn about our resilience the more I remember that I'm part of something greater than myself. That gives me the courage and conviction to keep on going.

Resources for LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness (US)

By Team TrevorSpace, in Community,

Here are some helpful homelessness resources. Remember, you can always call the Trevor Lifeline if you need immediate help or support.
NationalHomeless.org National Runaway Safeline (1-800-786-2929 / www.1800runaway.org) The Ali Forney Center – Housing for Homeless LGBT Youth Larkin Street Youth Services NAEHCY | The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth My Friend’s Place National Network for Youth True Colors United | Housing & Supportive Services Directory New Alternatives Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.

Understanding HIV and AIDS

By Team TrevorSpace, in Community,

Source: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/understanding-hiv-and-aids/
It’s totally normal to have questions about HIV/AIDS, whether if you are having sex, thinking about having sex, or are just curious. No matter the reason, it’s important to educate yourself because HIV/AIDS affects people of all ages, sexual orientations and identities. 
HIV, also known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that affects, and ultimately destroys your body’s immune system. When this happens, it’s much harder to fight off other infections and diseases, leaving you vulnerable to illness. Something like the common cold or the flu could have fatal consequences for someone living with HIV. 
AIDS, which stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, can also develop in someone living with HIV. If someone has AIDS, it usually means that they have a more advanced stage of the disease. Many people with AIDS have also been diagnosed with other infections as a result of their weakened immune system, and their body remains vulnerable to catching others.  
Both HIV and AIDS affect people of all ages, sexual orientations and identities. According to the CDC, almost 8,000 youth aged 13-24 in the United States were diagnosed with HIV in 2018, accounting for about 21 percent of all new HIV diagnoses. There isn’t a ton of routine testing for young people, so it’s quite possible a lot of young people who are HIV-positive don’t know their status; the CDC estimates that only 56 percent of HIV-positive youth know their HIV status. There also isn’t a lot of research about the HIV status of trans and non-binary folks, particularly young people. HIV/AIDS continues to affect people for a lot of reasons, including a lack of comprehensive sex education in schools; ongoing fear, misunderstanding of, and stigma against HIV; and unstable access to sexual healthcare. 
HIV is spread through bodily fluids — including blood, semen, penile or vaginal secretions, or breast milk — and is most often spread through sexual intercourse. It can also be transmitted through injection drug use, needle sticks, or blood transfusions or from a parent to child, either in the womb or through breast- or chest feeding. 
Treatment for HIV usually involves regular check-ups with your doctor, who may prescribe you medications to control the virus, protect your immune system, and delay the progression to AIDS for as long as possible. By taking medication consistently and as prescribed, it’s possible to reduce the level of the virus in your bloodstream to undetectable levels, which means that it becomes virtually impossible to infect your sexual partners and other people in your life. There is currently no cure for either HIV or AIDS.
In order to prevent yourself from contracting HIV, it’s important to get tested regularly. By knowing your HIV status, you can ensure your own health and better prevent the spread to others. You should also talk to your partner(s) about the last time that they were tested. 
If you’re having sexual intercourse with people of any gender or sexuality, latex barriers — including outside condoms, inside condoms, or dental dams — are very effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 
In order for condoms to be most effective, it’s important to use them correctly, which means during all direct contact with genitals, including anal and vaginal intercourse, as well as oral sex. It also means opening the condom package carefully and using latex-safe lubricant to avoid tearing the condom itself. If you’re using an outside, penile condom, leave room at the tip for fluids to gather and being sure to hold the base of the condom when withdrawing after sex. 
There are other harm reduction techniques when it comes to sex, including limiting the number of sexual partners you engage with, and avoiding or limiting drug and alcohol use, which could affect your decision-making during sexual situations. There are also plenty of sexual acts that have zero to no risk for HIV transmission, which include kissing, petting, frottage, manual sex (like handjobs and fingering — as long as your hands are clean), and mutual masturbation.
If you are currently using injection drugs, you can reduce harm by not sharing our reusing your equipment. You can also research local syringe or needle exchange programs available in your area that distribute sterile injection drug-use equipment like needles, syringes, cookers, or cotton filters. These programs are safe, anonymous, and a free way for you to practice harm reduction and dispose of used needles. 
There are also medications to help prevent you from contracting HIV. The first is Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (sometimes called PEP or nPEP for short), which is a treatment for people who have been potentially exposed to the HIV virus. PEP is typically taken for 30 days and must be started within a few hours — and up to 72 hours — after exposure. 
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, which is also known as PrEP, is a daily medication that can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by as much as 99 percent. PrEP is a good option for folks who are at risk of contracting HIV, including those whose partners are HIV-positive or whose HIV status is unknown. Since it doesn’t protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy, PrEP is not a replacement for all safer sex practices. A great thing about PrEP is that it doesn’t require cooperation from sex partners, so it’s in your control to be proactive with your own health.  
There are plenty of people ready to support you as you take steps to take care of yourself and other folks in your life. If you have questions about HIV/AIDS, you can speak to a trusted healthcare provider, if you have one. The crisis counselors on TrevorChat, TrevorText, and TrevorLifeline are also here for you 24/7.
Here are some helpful resources on HIV/AIDS. Remember, you can always call the Trevor Lifeline if you need immediate help or support.
For AIDS and HIV specific hotlines, please check out:
AIDSinfo National AIDS Hotline Additional Resources
AIDS.gov – HIV/AIDS Basics AVERT – About HIV & AIDS TeenHelp – HIV & AIDS TeenSource – HIV/AIDS The Body – United States AIDS Hotlines CDC – Resources for People Living with HIV CDC – Get Tested AIDS.gov – Testing Site Locator HRSA – Get HIV Care and Treatment Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.

Support for Self-Harm Recovery

By Team TrevorSpace, in Mental Health,

Source: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/support-for-self-harm-recovery/
There are lots of ways to feel better without harming yourself.
Self-injury, also known as self-harm, is the act of trying to get rid of an unbearable mood by causing physical harm that damages the body. For many young people, self-injury is the best method they have found for dealing with the pain in their lives. Although it may sound contradictory, since this involves hurting oneself, self-injury can sometimes be a method young people use to help them survive. However, there are some individuals who use self-injury as a “dry run” before a suicide attempt. If you are feeling suicidal, please know that you are not alone. You can call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
A common form of self-injury is cutting, which is when someone makes shallow cuts on their body using a knife or another sharp object – but 75% of those that self-injure use multiple methods. Other methods include burning, scratching, picking and/or interfering with wound healing, head banging and the breaking of bones.
If you self-injure, using basic first aid and safety skills is always important. It’s important to recognize that self-injury can cause a variety of complications, like permanent scarring, or feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem. Even if a person doesn’t mean to hurt themselves seriously, life-threatening problems can happen; such as blood loss, if major blood vessels or arteries are cut. Self-injury can also lead to accidental or deliberate suicide.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives to self-injury that can produce the same relief. If you’re ready to stop, consider these options to find what works for you:
If cutting helps release anger… hit a pillow, stomp the ground, rip paper, flatten cans. If cutting reduces tension… run, do yoga, meditate, stretch a rubber band and let it go. If cutting helps ease sadness… chat with a friend, listen to a favorite song, eat some comfort food, write out your feelings, do something that makes you feel supported. If cutting helps you feel less numb… create a sharp physical feeling, like putting your hand in ice water, snapping a rubber band on your wrist, or clapping your hands hard. FAQ
Why do people self-harm? Can self-injury have any complications? I want to stop hurting myself, but I can’t figure out where to begin. I feel super alone with all of this. Who can I trust to help me? Question:
1. Why do people self-harm?
Answer:
Most people self-harm as a way of dealing with difficult, painful, overwhelming emotions. However, every person does it for a different reason. It’s important to understand the meaning self-harm has for each individual before assuming why they’re hurting themselves.
People self-harm to:
Relieve tension and overwhelming emotions. Return them to reality and make them feel alive again, sometimes after seeing blood. Establish control after feeling like they have little to no control over their environment. Seek security and a reliable outcome. For example, cutting will always produce blood. Feel special and unique. Some say that disapproval adds to a sense of satisfaction. Influence or punish others, or prove how strong their emotions are. Punish themselves due to negative self-perceptions. Evoke a good mood. One theory is that the pain involved in self-injury may release endorphins (natural painkillers) that reduce emotional pain. A cycle is formed in which habitual self-injurers hurt themselves in order to feel better. Whatever the reason, it is important to recognize that self-harm is a symptom of larger concerns. If you know someone who may be suicidal and is self-harming, please encourage them to call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. It’s free and available 24/7.
Question:
2. Can self-harm have any complications?
Answer:
Self-harming, like cutting, might help the person feel better briefly, but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become. Remember, self-harm is the act of physically hurting yourself. Serious blood loss after hitting a vein or artery, permanent scarring, serious infections, or even accidental suicide, are a few examples of life-threatening medical emergencies that can happen if someone who self-harms isn’t careful. Self-harming can also increase someone’s feelings of shame, guilt, depression, and lack of control.
Question:
3. I want to stop hurting myself, but I can’t figure out where to begin.
Answer:
There are few questions that might be helpful to think about as you start your process: Have you found new ways to handle the triggers that usually spark your desire to hurt yourself? Have you thought about other activities you can do instead of self-injuring? Is there a reason why you’re ready to stop now? Do you have an emotional support system, like people who you can talk to about your self-injury?
If you start asking yourselves these questions and find that you are not comfortable with the idea of stopping, don’t be discouraged. You can work toward gaining more control over your self-injury by setting boundaries with yourself about when and how much you hurt yourself.
If you feel like hurting yourself, there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before and after you hurt yourself. What happens after you’ve hurt yourself – do you feel less sad, more in control, or less angry? There are alternative activities you can do to help find the same relief you currently find through self-injury. Check out these ideas to get started, or come up with some of your own:
If cutting helps release anger… hit a pillow, stomp the ground, rip paper, flatten cans. If cutting reduces tension… run, do yoga, meditate, stretch a rubber band and let it go. If cutting helps ease sadness… chat with a friend, listen to a favorite song, eat some comfort food, write out your feelings, do something that makes you feel supported. If cutting helps you feel less numb… create a sharp physical feeling, like putting your hand in ice water, snapping a rubber band on your wrist, or clapping your hands hard. If cutting helps you feel in control… play a game where you can control a character’s experiences, write stories, set physical activity goals for yourself and beat your record. Keep in mind that many people continue to search, grow, and adjust the way they cope with pain and crisis their whole lives. What works for us one day might not work the next—and that’s completely okay! You are not alone. If you ever want help because you think you might hurt yourself, please call the Trevor Lifeline – it’s available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.
Question:
4. I feel super alone with all of this. Who can I trust to help me? 
Answer:
It can be very difficult to stop cutting, especially when you feel like you are going through all of this alone. It’s important to find someone who is understanding and can listen to what you’re going through. Is there an adult in your life with whom you feel like you connect? It might be a teacher, family member, or someone in another area of your life, like a faith leader. Many people find that having a safe space to talk about their feelings can help them work through some of the reasons why they choose to self-harm. If you think that speaking to someone might help you fight the urge to cut, or if you are ever feeling like you might hurt yourself, please call The Trevor Project’s 24-hour Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.
Additional Resources
Helpguide.org – Cutting and Self-Harm Everyone Is Gay – Self-Harm S.A.F.E. Alternatives (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Cornell University | Recovery Research and Resources How to Support Someone Who Self-Harms Family, friends and loved ones of people who self-harm Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.

How Can You Help?

By Team TrevorSpace, in Talking about suicide,

Source: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/how-can-you-help/
If you recognize some of the warning signs of suicide in someone you know, or feel that someone you know is at risk for suicide, there are steps you can take to help. When you CARE (Connect, Accept, Respond, Empower), you can potentially save a life. Remember, you are not responsible for anyone who chooses to take their own life.

The Coming Out Handbook: Identity

By Team TrevorSpace, in Gender Identity,

Source: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/guide/the-coming-out-handbook/
The copy below is a section from the document, The Coming Out Handbook, which can be viewed in full here on The Trevor Project's website.
Gender identity and sexual orientation can be significant parts of who we are. And for many of us, there are lots of other aspects of ourselves that are meaningful and help make us the people we are. All of these identities help shape us into ourselves. Race, ethnicity, (dis)ability, national origin, the language(s) we speak, age, social class, religion/spirituality, and many other identity categories help us tell a larger picture about what it means to be us. Gender identity and sexual orientation can be just one piece of the puzzle. We are all complex human beings, and that is wonderful!
Basics of Sexual Orientation
Questioning your identity is an experience that lots of people have many times throughout their life. Identity is complicated and if you aren’t sure how you identify, that’s ok! You are allowed to not have everything figured out right at this moment. Taking some time to think through how you feel can be helpful in better understanding your gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation.
Many people aren’t sure of the difference between gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, and sexual orientation. It isn’t something many of us are taught. Instead, lots of us end up figuring out what these categories mean on our own. Let’s spend some time breaking down the difference between each of these terms and exploring what they mean together.
What Is Sex Assigned at Birth?
When we are born, doctors decide whether “female” or “male” will be listed on our birth certificate. This is often one of the first instances when gender is ascribed to us. This sex assignment at birth is typically based solely on one’s genitals. Just like a lot of the concepts in this handbook, sex assignment at birth is far more intricate than meets the eye. The label of one’s sex assignment at birth is often attributed to a child before they can speak, walk, or know for themselves what their gender identity is. As such, sex assignment does not take into account one’s true gender identity. Your true gender may be different than the gender that a doctor assigned you, which is perfectly normal, valid, and wonderful.
Additionally, there is so much diversity between bodies. For some babies, their bodies do not fit neatly into the category of “male” or “female.” These people may come to identify themselves as intersex, which is a term used for “a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male” (Intersex Society of North America).
It is not always an easy process to figure out what your sex assignment at birth and your gender mean to you, so we want to take a moment to recognize all that it took to discover who you are.
What is Gender?
Some people say that gender looks like this:

Others say gender is this:

In actuality, gender often looks a lot like this:

Now, let’s zoom in!
Gender Identity
Gender Identity describes our internal understanding and experience of our own gender. Each person’s experience with their gender identity is unique and personal.
Some people think that there are only two gender identities possible: boy or girl. But, in fact, thousands and thousands of people experience their gender outside of this gender binary (binary meaning made up of two things). Some people identify as being both a boy and a girl, or being neither a boy nor a girl. Some folks identity as a gender that is different than boy or girl, or they don’t experience gender at all. Non-binary is a term that refers to people who don’t experience their gender(s) as completely a girl/woman or boy/man.
Think of how many different ways there are to be a boy or a girl; there are millions of different ways to be non-binary too. Throughout the course of history and all around the world, there have always been people who experience their gender(s) in diverse ways.
While many people identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, some people may find that their gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Exploring your gender is normal at all ages and at any stage of life. All of these experiences are equally valid.
How do I experience my gender?
How do I feel in relation to the sex I was assigned at birth?
What does gender mean to me?
It can be helpful to visualize how you experience gender. Below is a Gender Identity map where you can mark how you identify in terms of gender identity. Maybe you can make a single dot on this graphic, maybe you place yourself using five separate dots, maybe your identity needs a circle around one large area, or more. We give you the freedom to mark the map one way today, and a entirely different way tomorrow, a month, or a year from now. Your identity may shift fluidly or stay the same. All experiences are welcome here!

Gender Expression
Gender Expression describes the way in which we present ourselves, which can include physical appearance, clothing, hairstyles, and behavior.
Gender identity is not the same as gender expression. It is important to not assume that the way that someone moves, talks, dresses, or styles their hair is indicative of how they identify their gender. There are an infinite amount of amazing ways to be a person of any gender. Some boys wear dresses, some girls have short hair, and some non-binary folks wear makeup. Gender expression is all about how you want to present. If you are not currently able to express your gender the way that you wish you could, we stand with you. You are still you!
How do I like to present my gender?
In an ideal situation, how would I want to express my gender?
What aspects of gender expression make me feel happy and authentically myself?
What aspects of gender expression make me feel sad and not like myself?


Understanding Gay & Lesbian Identities

By Team TrevorSpace, in Sexual Orientation,

Source: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/understanding-gay-lesbian-identities/
Gay is an adjective that describe people who are physically, romantically, emotionally and/or spiritually attracted to other people of the same gender. In the past, “gay” specifically referred to men who are attracted to men. Now, it is common for “gay” to be used by anyone who is attracted to their same gender. It’s all up to you and which word fits you the best.
Example: “I’ve always known that I am gay.” / “I totally support my gay sister.”
Avoid saying: “That person is a gay.” (This uses “gay” as a noun, which doesn’t work.)
Lesbian is a noun that describes women who are predominantly attracted to other women. It can also be used as an adjective. Some lesbian women prefer to identify as “gay,” and that’s ok.
Example (Noun): “After school, I came out to my parents as a lesbian.”
Example (Adjective): “After coming out, I researched lesbian women from our history.”
No one knows for sure what makes a person straight, gay, lesbian, or even bisexual or transgender. There are many theories (biology, environment, personal experiences, etc.) but we know that there isn’t just one cause. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to know that all orientations and identities are normal. They’re just a part of who we are!
FAQ
Question:
1. Is it true that I have to have sex with someone of the same gender to know that I’m gay?
Answer:
Absolutely not! A person doesn’t need to have a physical experience with someone else to understand who they’re attracted to. In fact, sexual orientation describes way more than physical attraction – it includes our romantic, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual attraction to other people, too. Think about the crushes you’ve had, and who you fantasize about being with: girls, boys, both, or maybe other genders or sexes. Your feelings may or may not change as time goes by and you experience new things, and that is completely okay. Whatever you decide is true for you! No one besides you can decide how you identify.
Question:
2. Are all gay men are effeminate and are all lesbian women masculine?
Answer:
Our sexual orientation is actually very different from our gender expression. The first one has to do with who we’re attracted to, and the second has to do with how we express our gender (like being feminine or masculine, or somewhere in between). Although it can sometimes seem like one type of gay person is shown over and over again in the media or on TV, gay people aren’t automatically effeminate, and lesbian women aren’t automatically masculine – in fact, those stereotypes leave out a lot of other personalities and characteristics. Gay and lesbian people are unique individuals, just like everyone else, and can express themselves in an infinite number of ways! There’s no wrong way to be gay or lesbian. To learn more about gender identity and gender expression, please visit our Trans* and Gender Identity page.
Question:
3. I feel like gay and lesbian people only work in certain types of professions. Is that true?
Answer:
Actually, you can find gay and lesbian people in all different types of professions! Certain stereotypes offer a limited view on what gay and lesbian people do for work. For example, not all gay men are interested in fashion, theatre, or the arts. Likewise, not all lesbian women are interested in teaching sports, doing construction work, or becoming an athlete. While there may be some jobs that tend to have more gay or lesbian people in them than others, it often has to do with the cultural acceptance they might find in that particular field. Everyone wants to work at an accepting place, and some professions are just ahead of the curve. As society becomes more open and accepting, hopefully people will feel more freedom to follow their interests and explore a wider range of employment possibilities.
Question:
4. Can gay people have stable romantic relationships? 
Answer:
Absolutely! There is no inherent reason why gay or lesbian couples would be unable to have a stable romantic relationship. Just like straight couples, people in same-sex relationships have ups-and-downs, break-ups, and make-ups. However, since marriage is still illegal for same-sex couples in many states, gay and lesbian relationships have less support from society. With that said, some LGBTQ people reject the idea of marriage, since it is historically tied to heterosexual (straight) couples, and choose to construct their own values and relationship styles. Whatever makes you feel happy and fulfilled is the best way to go!
Additional Resources
Advocates for Youth – I Think I Might Be Lesbian Advocates for Youth – I Think I Might Be Gay PFLAG – Be Yourself Planned Parenthood – Sexual Orientation Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.

Resources for International LGBTQ Youth

By Team TrevorSpace, in Community,

Source: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/resources-for-international-lgbtq-youth/
It’s a sad reality that parts of the world are hostile to sexual and gender minorities. Because of this, coming out or seeking help through certain avenues can be very dangerous. It is important to consider your own situation and cultural context before sharing your identity with others.
Finding ways to cope with difficult situations is an important tool for everyone, especially for those who have limited access to help or support. Practicing self-care, which means doing something for your own mental, physical, or emotional wellbeing, is sometimes the best thing to do. Self-care can mean playing a sport, listening to music, playing games, writing in a journal, watching TV, or creating art – whatever helps you relax, avoid stress, and promote happiness.
FAQ
What The Trevor Project does is amazing, but I can’t use the Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, or TrevorText unless I’m in America. How can I find international suicide prevention resources? It is illegal to be LGBTQ in my country. Where can I find a community? Help! How do I get asylum to the United States for being LGBTQ? Question:

1. What The Trevor Project does is amazing, but I can’t use the Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, or TrevorText unless I’m in America. How can I find international suicide prevention resources?
Answer:
We wish that The Trevor Project could support LGBTQ youth all over the world, but unfortunately that is not the case. It’s hard when countries don’t have the funding or resources for suicide prevention, or when they aren’t accepting of the LGBTQ community at all. The most important thing to do is stay safe, and find support where you can. Here are two great resources that include comprehensive lists of international suicide prevention resources:
Befrienders Worldwide International Suicide Hotlines Everyone deserves support and understanding. We wish you the best of luck!
Question:

2. It is illegal to be LGBTQ in my country. Where can I find a community?
Answer:

All around the world, many young LGBTQ people face similar fears and challenges. Growing up in a society that doesn’t accept who you are is extremely difficult, especially if there are explicit laws against LGBTQ people, or religious teachings that negatively target LGBTQ people. We hope you know that being LGBTQ is normal, and there is nothing wrong with you because of who you love or how you identify.
No matter where you live, you can access www.TrevorSpace.org, a safe and secure social networking site for LGBTQ young people and their allies. The Trevor Project makes sure that the only people allowed on the site are ages 13 to 24, and no hate-speech, discrimination, or bullying of any kind are allowed. Please know that visiting TrevorSpace may leave a record on your computer or browser, just like any website does after you visit it. While The Trevor Project does everything we can to ensure TrevorSpace is a safe digital community, we hope that you also take steps to avoid dangerous or unsafe situations in your own area. You are not alone!
We also encourage you to take a look at the resource list at the bottom of this page. There are many helpful website you can explore that may bring you closer to finding a community nearby.
Question:

3. Help! How do I get asylum to the United States for being LGBTQ?
Answer:

We are so sorry to hear that you are in a situation where you are looking for asylum. It is brave to reach out for help with the goal of to changing a terrible situation, like feeling unsafe in your own country. No one deserves to feel persecuted or attacked for who they are, and we want to acknowledge that the extreme challenges you are facing are not fair – as an LGBTQ person, you are normal, unique, and perfectly human. Please know that you are not alone.
Unfortunately, The Trevor Project cannot help people get asylum. For information about leaving your country and coming to the US you can visit Immigration Equality’s website at http://immigrationequality.org/contact-us/.
Other Resources:
IGLHRC (International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission) ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) IGLYO (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Youth and Student Organisation) GATE (Global Action for Trans* Equality) Oram International (Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration) No More Fear Foundation AsylumConnect (online resource database for LGBTQ asylum seekers) Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.

Understanding Asexuality

By Team TrevorSpace, in Sexual Orientation,

Source: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/understanding-asexuality/
"Love doesn’t equal sex."
It’s important to remember that asexuality is an umbrella term, and exists on a spectrum. Asexual people – also known as “Ace” or “Aces” – may have little interest in having sex, even though they desire emotionally intimate relationships. Within the ace community there are many ways for people to identify.
Asexuality is not:
Abstinence because of a bad relationship Abstinence because of religions reasons Celibacy Sexual repression, aversion, or dysfunction Loss of libido due to age or circumstance Fear of intimacy Inability to find a partner  Aces might:
Want friendship, understanding, or empathy Fall in love Experience arousal and orgas* Choose to masturbat* Choose to engage in sexual activity Choose not to engage in sexual activity Be of any gender, age, or background Have a spouse and/or children Here are just a few common terms to explore:
Demisexual: People who only experience sexual attraction once they form a strong emotional connection with another person.
Grey-A: People who identify somewhere between sexual and asexual.
Queerplatonic: People who experience a type of non-romantic relationship where there is an intense emotional connection that goes beyond a traditional friendship.
Aces commonly use hetero-, homo-, bi-, and pan- in front of the word romantic to describe who they experience romantic attraction to. For example, a person who is hetero-romantic might be attracted to people of a different sex or gender, but not in a sexual way.
Instead of saying:
Asexuality can't exist You will know when it's time to have sex Have you seen a doctor? This will pass, it's just a phase. Everyone wants sex sometimes. Sex is a natural part of adult relationships. Try saying:
Asexuality is a sexual orientation just like bi, gay, lesbian, and pan Love doesn't equal sex There are many happy, healthy relationships that don't have sex involved in them Sexuality is fluid and exists on a huge spectrum. There are many different types of sexuality Sex and sexuality are complicated to figure out. Give yourself time and space to explore what you are feeling.  FAQ
My friends talk about sex all the time, but I don’t feel any desire to be with someone in that way. Is it normal to not feel any sexual attraction towards other people? I am romantically attracted to boys and girls, but I don’t want to be with them physically. Can I be bisexual and asexual? I kissed my boyfriend for the first time and it was gross! Does this mean I am asexual? How do I tell my partner/the person I like that I am asexual? People are telling me that something is wrong with me now that I’ve come out as asexual. Even worse, some are saying that asexuality doesn’t exist. How can I help them understand me? Question:
1. My friends talk about sex all the time, but I don’t feel any desire to be with someone in that way. Is it normal to not feel any sexual attraction towards other people?
Answer:
Yes, it is completely normal to not feel sexual attraction towards other people. Love doesn’t have to equal sex! You can have strong, meaningful relationships with friends or partners that don’t necessarily involve a sexual connection. In fact, there is a huge spectrum of identities and sexualities out there that can help describe different kinds of attraction. We encourage you to learn more about identities like asexuality, which may help you feel more at ease about not feeling sexually attracted to others. Remember, nothing is set in stone, and you don’t have to label yourself with a term unless you’re ready. Your feelings may or may not change over time, and that is completely okay!
Question:
2. I am romantically attracted to boys and girls, but I don’t want to be with them physically. Can I be bisexual and asexual?
Answer:

Absolutely! Because you feel romantically attracted to others, you may feel comfortable using the term “romantic” instead of “sexual,” then adding “bi-“ to show that you’re attracted to both boys and girls. This creates a term that’s commonly used in the asexual and ace community: “biromantic.” Another term for you to explore could be panromantic, which describes a person who is romantically attracted to others, but their attraction is not limited by the other person’s sex or gender.
Question:
3. I kissed my boyfriend for the first time and it was gross! Does this mean I am asexual?
Answer:
Not necessarily. There are a lot of things that make up our identity, and who we are physically and romantically attracted to can be discovered over time in many different ways. It sounds like you are listening to yourself and are in touch with your feelings – that’s an awesome first step! What you experienced is perfectly normal, even though being grossed out by your first kiss might have been confusing.
People who identify as asexual experience little or no sexual attraction to others. Asexual people, or “aces,” often identify somewhere on a spectrum that includes their emotional, spiritual and romantic attraction to other people.
It might be helpful to think about how you feel about your boyfriend, too. How do you feel about him romantically, spiritually, and emotionally? Remember, love does not automatically equal sex or being physical. In fact, there are many happy, healthy relationships that don’t involve those things.
So, are you asexual? That’s up to you to decide, because you know yourself best! You might do some more research and find out that “asexual” is a good way to describe yourself – or, you may find another term that fits your feelings better. Give yourself time and space to explore what you are feeling. You are not alone!
Question:
4. How do I tell my partner/the person I like that I am asexual?
Answer:
This is a tough question, and there isn’t any easy answer. Coming out to ANYONE can be scary, and many people in the ace community face specific risks when coming out, like being rejected by a partner or love interest. Some aces even voice fears of never finding a partner who will accept them for who they are. However, there is a whole community out there that is able to offer support. We recommend checking out AVEN. The Trevor Project also has a great resource for coming out called “The Coming Out Handbook."
You deserve love and happiness, and we hope that you will find someone who will love you for the amazing, whole person that you are! You should NEVER feel pressured to have sex with someone if you don’t want to, no matter how much you like them. If someone doesn’t accept you for being asexual, then they might not be the right person for you.
Question:
5. People are telling me that something is wrong with me now that I’ve come out as asexual – even worse, some are saying that asexuality doesn’t exist. How can I help them understand me?
Answer:

It sounds like you are honestly and bravely sharing your feelings with the people you love and depend on, but that they aren’t hearing, understanding or validating you. That’s really tough, especially because having the support of family and friends can make such a huge difference as we’re discovering who we are. We want you to know that being asexual is completely valid and normal, and that you have our full support!
It might help to explain to the people in your life that asexuality is a sexual orientation just like being bi, gay, lesbian, pan, or straight – it all comes down to how you are attracted to other people, in what ways. Remind them that you can have strong, meaningful relationships with friends or partners, even if you aren’t being physical with them. You can also try and connect them with some resources, like the ones at the bottom of this page, so they can do some research on their own.
Ultimately, we can’t change how other people respond to us, or force them to understand who we are. What we can do is share our stories and make meaningful connections with others who are ready to accept us for who we are. You are an amazing gift to the world, and we are so happy that you are being authentically yourself.
Resources
AVEN – The Asexual Visibility and Education Network – Includes Forum Asexual Awareness Week Asexuality 101 pdf Asexual Groups – World List What Is Asexuality? The Invisible Orientation Asexuality: A Brief Introduction PDF (Asexuality Archive) Planned Parenthood: Sexual Orientation Through The Trevor Support Center, you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.

The Coming Out Handbook: Exploring Yourself

By Team TrevorSpace, in Gender Identity,

Source: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/guide/the-coming-out-handbook/
The copy below is a section from the document, The Coming Out Handbook, which can be viewed in full here on The Trevor Project's website.
Coming out isn’t always easy. It’s when a person decides to reveal an important part of their identity to someone in their life. For many LGBTQ people, this involves sharing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Exploring Yourself
Exploring your sexual orientation and/or gender identity can bring up a lot of feelings and questions. Inside this handbook, we will work together to explore your identity, what it might be like to share your identity with others, and provide you with tools and guiding questions to help you think about what coming out means to you.
Our guide is here to help you navigate questions around your identity. You know yourself and what works for you better than anyone else. Each of us has the right to share or not share different aspects of ourselves with others. No one else is entitled to information around your identities, if you do not want them to know. If you choose not to share parts of your identity with others, it does not make you any less valid than those who may choose to share their identities with other people.
"I’ve slowly been figuring out who I really am, and every step of the way I like who I find more and more." Hayley, 16, Virginia
You may have heard people talking about “coming out” before in ways that are oversimplified, judgmental, or just plain scary. The truth is that there is no one way to “come out” or be “out.” There may be certain people in our lives with whom we want to share our sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and there may be others with whom we know that we do not feel comfortable or safe sharing. This is more than okay!
Some people may share their identity with a few trusted friends online, some may choose to share with a counselor or a trusted family member, and others may want everyone in their life to know about their identity. An important thing to know is that for a lot of people, coming out doesn’t just happen once. A lot of folks find themselves coming out at different times to different people.
It is all about what works for you, wherever you are at. The things you hear about coming out may make you feel pressured to take steps that don’t feel right for you, or that you don’t feel prepared for. Your experience is truly unique to you. You get to decide. This handbook is here to help you think through what might be best for you.
After thinking it through, you may decide to be out to yourself, but not to anyone else — and that’s okay. Many people choose not to come out to others for different reasons. You are valid and deserve support no matter who you do or do not share your identities with.

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