Feeling like you don’t belong is a prevalent issue experienced by a large majority of the LGBTQ+ community. Whether it’s feeling out of place with your family or no longer fitting in with your friendship group, the feeling of not belonging is a harsh and lonely one felt by so many. However, imposter syndrome, and that feeling of inadequacy that comes along with it, is actually very prominent in this community. I personally have felt like I don’t belong because my story doesn’t involve anywhere near the same level of struggle as others. I haven’t been through what so many others have been through, especially in the trans community.
What is imposter syndrome?
I would define imposter syndrome as a feeling of inadequacy and fraudulence despite there being no evidence of that fact. For example, someone in the LGBTQ+ community (let’s call them person A) has recently come out and was inspired to do so by hearing the stories of people who overcame adversity, prejudice and even violence just to be who they are. Person A had a relatively easy coming out story; they were accepted by their friends, family and everyone else in their lives with no large degree of resistance. Person A then begins to feel like they don’t belong in the centre of this new community because they have had little hardship compared to those who fought for their place when in reality Person A still had to overcome a massive personal barrier and equally deserves a seat at the table. That is imposter syndrome, it’s you telling yourself that you don’t belong when there is nothing to suggest that you don’t
Not all soldiers fight on the front lines
If you haven’t guessed by now person A is me. Compared to most I had a very easy time coming out and it’s because of this that I had to deal with imposter syndrome. Then one of my friends said to me after I opened up about how I was feeling, “not all soldiers fight on the front line”. This meant that although I wasn’t at the forefront of the abuse being hurled at the LGBTQ+ community I was now part of that community and still felt that abuse to some degree. It also meant that just because I wasn’t fighting bigots every day on the street it doesn’t mean I wasn’t fighting. By going about my everyday life, I was proving that my sexuality is not what defines my actions or the type of person I am as many homophobes like to scream from their vehicles. I applaud and am thankful every day for the men, women and non-binary people who stand on a public platform every day and speak their truth. However, their struggle and their fight does not negate my own or yours for that matter. People fight for equality every day whether its equal pay, BLM, LGBTQ+ rights or any of the hundred other ways that people are marginalised. The fight goes on today so that future generations don’t have to fight to be who they want to be. If you identify as part of this community then you are part of the fight and no one can take that from you.
You belong here
The only person who can decide if you belong is you. 60 years ago it was a criminal offence to be homosexual (overturned in 1967), 10 years ago same-sex marriage wasn’t legally recognised. My point is change happens when people become who they were meant to be, when they throw away societies norms and stand tall saying ‘this is me, deal with it.’ People who publicly fight LGBTQ+ abuse would be the first to tell you that they are not only fighting for themselves but for every single person who falls under the rainbow flag. Just because you aren’t in the streets protesting doesn’t mean you aren’t part of the community. If you chose to label yourself as LGBTQ+ then you are LGBTQ+. You are not an imposter, you have just as much of a right to pick your own label (or lack thereof) as anyone else.
The world is changing
At the end of the day, don’t exaggerate your struggle to try and fit in. Be thankful that you didn’t have as hard a time as those who paved the way, be thankful to them, acknowledge them and just be you. The world is changing and every day the LGBTQ+ is becoming more accepted (don’t get me wrong the world is still infested with haters) and soon no one will have to struggle to be who they are, we can’t all be imposters in a community we created.