This article was published on February 6th, 2018
What makes the LGBT community tight knit is the ability to advocate for its members via mentors that understand the intricacies of how to lead a productive gay existence. Over the years there have been a number of studies that have dissected the best ways to find mentors that are great advocates for LGBT youth. While there are many organizations and programs that can help you find an LGBT mentor, here are some ways you can find your own, including the qualities to look for and the goals you can set.
Roles as a mentor are not to be taken lightly as they are one of the key components to helping LGBTQ youth become the people they are meant to be. As such, they should possess certain traits that allow this to blossom – compassion, knowledge, understanding, commitment, openness, and excellent communication are all considered the ingredients for success. A good mentor is able to empower their mentees, and instil a strength and belief system in them that works to enhance their personal attributes.
In order to be a good mentor, it is imperative that he or she maintains a positive demeanour and deals with issues in a professional manner. Once a mentor and mentee have begun a relationship, there should be a two-way street in terms of communication, as it is important that youth feel comfortable enough to share the most important and intimate aspects of their lives and entrust the information to someone else. Mentors that are engaged and invested in the success of the youth they mentor take their responsibilities as a counsellor seriously and makes sure they are available to answer any questions relevant to their position.
Mentors are not just hearing about experiences from their mentees, but are also sharing the ways in which they have developed and leading by example. Many young people in the LGBTQ community suffer from isolation and are searching for a sense of belonging, which makes giving them access to all the resources available to them all the more crucial.
Since they are role models, it is important that mentees searching for a mentor that fits their needs feel comfortable enough to pose the tough questions to any prospective counsellors as this strengthens the bond between them and makes it that much easier to process feelings and navigate the sometimes treacherous waters as an LGBTQ youth. Questions to ask about include how to come out to family members, finding like-minded members in the community, and supplemental programs that can help to reduce the stress and problems of coming out. There is a need for diversity across the board in all areas of life, and LGBTQ mentors have a position to make an undeniable impact in the lives of young people and enable them the potential to become well-adjusted members of the community at large.
Mentees should ideally stay on top of the most pressing issues affecting the LGBTQ community, and be ready to listen to feedback that should never be taken personally. At the end of the day, what is learned in the process allows mentors to grow in their position, as well as enable them to provide more assistance to those youth that come to them in the future.