The Root Cause of Self-Harming Behavior in the LGBTQI Community


Cutting, drug-abuse, suicide. Way too often we hear the tragic story of another LGBTQI person struggling. Is there a core issue, a common reason? I believe there is. We cannot underestimate the impact of family and faith-based rejection. Of being told that you are an abomination to God, of being kicked out of homes and rejected by the very people who were supposed to love you no matter what.

Recently, a Mom contacted me about her gay son. I wanted to share our interaction with you.

I need help supporting my gay son. He is a recovering drug user. He has gone through inpatient treatment, outpatient therapy, and is currently living in a “sober house” program. He told me that there is a lot of drug abuse in the gay community. How do I best support him through all of this? Thank you.

Hello sweet Mom,

I’m sorry for the situation your family is in. I can only imagine how difficult it is.

Yes, drug use goes on a lot in the LGBTQ community, as well as other self-harming behaviors. It makes sense if you think about the depth of despair these people are driven to as they daily face a world hostile to them, with terrible things said from pulpits and congregations, with countless micro-aggressions against them every single day. A disparaging look, avoiding eye contact, someone avoiding them. ANYONE would go dark in a world that is overtly hostile to them.

So that’s the root of it.

I was asked on a Christian radio show what I thought was the biggest problem the LGBTQ community faces; I said, “Self-hatred.” The host was shocked, she would not have thought that. But it’s exactly what happens when you get the strong message that you’re an “abomination,” and homophobia in the culture backs you up. (Yes, things are changing, yes it’s getting better, but yes homophobia is still strong in our culture.)

All of that is to say it’s not the gayness that drives drug use but the self-hatred that comes from being gay in a homophobic culture. 

The very best thing you can do for your son is to love him without condition, to embrace his entire being, including his orientation, as the exact way he was meant to be, and to educate yourself as much as possible about this whole area.

If you are looking for a place to start, take a look at our resources page at Also, it will help you a lot to go on this journey with other Moms. We have a private Facebook group and I would love to get you in that. We all have LGBTQ kids, and so we’ve been down that road. And many have kids who have been through drug rehab. So you would find yourself among great and supportive friends.

I know your head may be spinning. I know you have questions. I understand. Just love him well and be there for him. That means more than you know.

I get so sad about what life extracts from these kids or ours–and us–especially from people who mean well but have been taught badly.

May I say that though this is a terribly difficult path for him (for all of you), I envision that he will come out of it with a clearer, cleaner view of his life and he will have his story no one can take from him. Who knows what glorious life he will offer those who come behind him, who are facing the same things, and whom he understands so deeply because he’s been there.

If you have to choose being love and doing what you think is right, pick love because love is always right.


We have ‘pay-what-you-want’ video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping those in the faith community be more loving & fully inclusive; and helping LGBTQI heal shame from family, church & community wounds. We also have private Facebook support groups for parents, and other resources. Please click here.

3 thoughts on “The Root Cause of Self-Harming Behavior in the LGBTQI Community

  1. I think the real reason LGBTQ people self harm is because of evil people in and outside of their family who attack them and try to destroy them for being LGBTQ. It can be family members or people in their church or anybody who thinks they should destroy for being LGBTQ.

  2. Well said!
    Another thing I saw and talked about with with my son was anger and withdrawal early on. He was angry at being gay and, “why me?” and “what about my own family?”
    We are all Human beings……..simple truth.

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