I’m a 19-year-old guy that recently moved to Dallas. I’m from a much smaller town in Texas that did not have a large LGBTQ+ community. This will be my first time experiencing gay Pride, and because I have some self-esteem issues, I’m nervous about attending. I haven’t really met that many people since moving here, and I’m really intimidated by the guys that I see when I go out.

I know that I need to start meeting people and I’m hoping to do that at the Pride parade. Any advice for helping me overcome that anxiety so that I can enjoy the celebration and hopefully make some new friends?

— Wanting to Fit In

Dear Wanting,
Welcome to Dallas! First and foremost, you are not alone in the anxiety that you are feeling. What I have learned over the years while counseling the LGBTQ+ community is that more often than not, members of our community have had issues feeling connected and have had to overcome emotional hurdles in order to make new friends. That is completely natural.

Because you recently relocated to Dallas, some of that anxiety you are experiencing is most likely because you feel out of your element. Everything is new, and you are trying to find where you fit in. The upside? It is a whole new adventure for you to explore.

Dallas has a thriving LGBTQ+ community, and there are a number of resources here to help you feel connected and carve out your own space.

What should give you some comfort is that the self-esteem issues that you are experiencing are also most likely felt by people that you encounter every day. Everyone struggles with maintaining a positive self-image, and we all need to work on loving ourselves for who we are — not for who we should be.

I encourage you to attend Pride and make it a point to meet several people while you are there. You will be surprised at how welcomed you will be, and it gives you an opportunity to start some new and long-lasting friendships. That will give you a boost of self-confidence to your tribe here in Dallas. Good luck!

— Candy