So many advancements have been made for the LGBTQIA+ community in the 21st century. While we can recognize that those in the community didn’t always have the representation and support they do now, there are other differences that are important to notice.
The generational differences between LGBTQIA+ people help to explain certain gaps and varying opinions and ideas within the community.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the generational differences and how to bridge those gaps.
The Baby Boomer generation, and even some Gen X folks, still live in fear of stigmas surrounding the community. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, “coming out” wasn’t as open as it is today. Many people had to live in the closet or be rejected by family, friends, and their jobs.
In the 80s and early 90s, the AIDS epidemic was in full force, causing almost any strides the gay community had made to get pushed back yet again. A different sort of stigma rose to the surface because of the disease. So, it only makes sense that people from those generations still hold certain fears about what they should and shouldn’t say, or how open they should be.
Millennials and Gen Z young adults in the LGBTQIA+ community don’t really share those fears. A 19-year-old cisgender gay man doesn’t necessarily have to worry about facing the same repercussions as he would have 50 years ago.
That’s not to say those in the community still aren’t victims of targeting and discrimination. But today’s generations have greater strength in numbers, so they aren’t as worried about standing up for who they are.
Today’s generations also have more advocates and allies than generations of the past. Not only did Boomers and Gen X people have to worry about being “outed,” but they had to think about who they could trust and who they could open up to.
Today, there are more resources available for people in the LGBTQIA+ community. There are safe spaces people can turn to in order to find support. Even if you can’t find a support system in person, you can likely find one online.
Mental Health Issues
It would be ignorant to say that Millennials and Gen Z individuals in the LGBTIQA+ community don’t face mental health issues. As stated above, they’re still often targeted and discriminated against, no matter how progressive we’ve become as a society.
But, there are many more mental health resources available today than there were in generations past. Even if you feel uncomfortable talking to a therapist, counselor, or even a supportive friend in person, you can connect online. Telehealth has been a revelation for the mental health epidemic sweeping our country, and it’s been an incredible resource for queer individuals.
Mental health was another thing that often faced stigma in the past—especially in the Baby Boomer generation.
Unfortunately, many people from past generations still don’t often reach out to get the mental health help support they need and deserve. Younger generations are far more likely to be open about their mental health help issues and seek support.
Bridging the Generational Gaps
What do these differences between LGBTQIA+ generations really mean?
Simply put, there can’t be great generational divides within the community if we want to value and take care of older queer individuals.
While younger people in the community have a lot to learn from the past and those who fought for rights and equality, older generations still need to be willing to learn, too. There can’t be a great divide within the community, or it will stunt its growth. There will be stigmas and different views that could end up causing discord.