A Letter to Family and Friends
This letter is to tell you a little bit about supporting someone you love who is an LGBTQ+ person with an intellectual or developmental disability.
This letter was written based on ideas from 25 LGBTQ+ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities of all different identities and ages from all over the United States. The first thing you should know: Your acceptance makes us stronger. Being an LGBTQ+ person with an intellectual or developmental disability is not always easy, but it is much easier for us to be happy and have a great life when we are loved and supported.
We know it can be scary to learn that your loved one is LGBTQ+. Having a disability can be hard enough and being LGBTQ+ doesn’t make it any easier! Maybe you’re worried that your loved one is going to be treated unfairly or discriminated against even more than they already were. Maybe you’re worried that your loved one is just confused or that they are doing something wrong.
We know that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be LGBTQ+ just like anyone else. It’s something that we feel inside that tells us who we are. Even those of us who need a lot of support or who do not have a lot of communication, we still feel inside what our gender is and what our sexuality is. We feel bad when we live a lie and we feel good when we can express who we are.
One of the hardest things about being LGBTQ+ is feeling like your family or friends reject you. Some of us have been kicked out and rejected by our families and friends. Some of us have family and friends that were upset but learned to accept us with time. Some of us were lucky to always be accepted. What we all want is to be ourselves and feel unconditional love from our family and friends. When we have love and support, we can live good lives and be happy. You can make the world a better place for your LGBTQ+ loved one by showing them that you love them and accept them.
There are many great things that we like about being LGBTQ+ people. We love that we are creative, fun, sincere, unique, and welcoming people. We love that we are true to ourselves, making the world a more inclusive place, and creating the lives and relationships that we want to have. It feels good to be honest and express who we are.
It’s okay for you to experience emotions, like feeling upset, confused, or angry. We know that acceptance can take time. You can talk about any negative emotions with someone else in your life, like a friend or a counselor. But you should not voice your negative feelings to the LGBTQ+ person. Your LGBTQ+ loved one needs to know that you accept them and support them. Lots of LGBTQ+ people feel anxious and depressed when they are rejected. Some LGBTQ+ people even try to or actually end their life because they feel so ashamed and alone. If you show the LGBTQ+ person in your life that you love them, they can feel safe and accept themselves for who they are.
Here are some things you can do to show love and support to the LGBTQ+ person with an intellectual or developmental disability in your life:
- Listen to them and believe what they say about their feelings.
- Use the name and pronouns that they want to be called.
- Tell them you love them and accept them for who they are.
- Learn more about them. Ask them questions like, “How long have you known?” “How did you figure it out?” and “What does it feel like?" Even if you are freaking out, try to understand them and talk to them.
- Ask them what you can do to support them.
- Support them to make their own decisions about how they express their gender and sexuality. Don’t try to control them or change them.
- Educate yourself and learn more about LGBTQ+ identities and communities.
- Support them to go to LGBTQ+ events and meet other LGBTQ+ people.
- Stand up for them if they are mistreated by others.
- Act welcoming to their LGBTQ+ partner.
- Believe that your LGBTQ+ loved one can be happy and tell them they can have a good life.
You deserve to get the support you need too. If you need support you can:
- Find a support group for friends and family of LGBTQ+ people.
- Reach out to a therapist or counselor.
- Read articles and watch videos about LGBTQ+ people living happy lives.
- Talk to an LGBTQ+ adult who is open to sharing with you about their life.
- Take time to yourself to relax.
Thank you for reading this letter! We’re confident that you will accept and support your LGBTQ+ loved one to express who they are and live a good life. Keep reading for some quotes from LGBTQ+ self-advocates, reflection questions, and resources!
25 LGBTQ+ self-advocates
What should a parent do to show they support their LGBTQ+ child?
- What will you do to show love and acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ person with an intellectual or developmental disability in your life?
- What are some questions you have and how will you learn more?
- What will you do to find support for yourself?