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The value of LGBTQ+ representation in media and its impacts on our mental health

Roamers Therapy | October 2023

For many of us LGBTQ+ folks, we may have grown up not seeing ourselves in the media. We were watching tv shows and movies, or reading books about heterosexual relationships and cisgender characters. While our peers likely had a wide range of media content that made them feel seen, we were fantasizing about seeing two men or women kiss onscreen. When we don’t have the opportunity to relate to the content we consume, we can start to feel lonely and more like an invalidated outsider. As young people, we may have questioned our sexuality or gender identity because we didn’t know what it meant to be queer, what it looked like to be queer, or most importantly, that it was okay to be our fullest selves. These isolating feelings and lack of connection over shared identity may have negatively impacted our mental health and increased feelings of self-doubt, depression, or anxiety.

This is why it is so important to share diverse stories and to have LGBTQ+ representation in the media. The more we feel seen and understood, the easier it becomes to fully embrace our identity and understand who we are. Maybe we were scared to come out or scared to start dating people we were interested in. It could’ve been one moment in a movie, one YouTube video, or one story we read that completely opened up our world to the possibility of living life as our authentic, queer selves. 

Or maybe we are older and have been living in our queer identities for some time now. We might find ourselves watching current teen shows that depict queer relationships and identities in a real way. This can be such a bittersweet experience because we desperately wish our younger self could’ve seen this show when they were younger but we are so happy that young queer kids have the access to it today. It allows us to reflect back on our younger selves and connect to them. We can tell them to look at us now and to look at how far we’ve come. It can be a really meaningful experience.

Even though LGBTQ+ representation in the media has made huge strides of progress, there is still more to be done. There needs to be more stories that represent and are inclusive of the wide range of queer experiences. Such representation has the power to positively impact our mental health and transform how we love and celebrate ourselves as queer people.

While our physical offices are located in South Loop and Lakeview neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois for in-person sessions, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more.