Home / Blog / #7 Building Chosen Families: Navigating Anxiety, Depression, and Relationship Tips

#7 Building Chosen Families: Navigating Anxiety, Depression, and Relationship Tips

Isaac Archuleta

Table Of Contents

Episode Summary

​Host Isaac Archuleta sits with a Denver-based drag queen and talks about the anxiety and depression they have had to navigate for most of their adult life. They take a journey into childhood rejection and adult perseverance and the healing one gains in creating a life filled with love. One they deserved but were never given.

Some of the episodes in our line up are what we call, RelationTips Q&A’s, a safe space for everyday folks to come on the show and talk with a therapist about a problem or topic they are struggling with.

These episodes are intended to highlight queer stories with the hope that others can relate and gain insight into their own journeys.

Guests on these episodes bring vulnerability into the space that allows for a deep, emotional exploration of areas that hit deeply for many queer folks.

For information about how to become a guest, visit us at iAmClinic.org.

Embracing Anxiety, Depression, and The Courage To Build A Chosen Family

In this episode of “Queer Relation Tips,” our guest shares their inspiring journey of self-discovery, overcoming challenges, and finding belonging within the queer community. From childhood memories to coming out and building a chosen family, their story is filled with vulnerability and resilience. Join us as we explore the impact of childhood affirmations and the power of self-belief in shaping our lives. We delve into their struggle with anxiety and depression, the healing power of self-acceptance, and the importance of creating a supportive community.

Childhood Memories: Finding Early Clues to Identity

Growing up on a farm in East Texas, our guest fondly recalls playing with cousins and friends in the woods behind their house. At a young age, they felt different from their peers, gravitating towards activities typically associated with the opposite gender. Even in daycare, they felt the pull towards activities traditionally considered “feminine,” sparking an early awareness of their queerness.

As they played pretend games and tried on different roles, a sense of discomfort arose whenever they were expected to conform to societal expectations of their assigned gender. These experiences served as early clues to their true identity, laying the foundation for their journey of self-discovery later in life.

Coming Out: Embracing Queer Identity

Our guest shares that they identified as queer from a young age, recognizing their attraction to the same gender even before they knew the word “queer.” Coming out as a gay man at 15, they initially embraced this identity, seeking acceptance and affirmation. However, as they grew older, they realized that their gender identity extended beyond the binary spectrum.

Their journey of self-discovery expanded beyond their sexual orientation, as they began questioning the societal norms that defined gender. This exploration allowed them to embrace their fluidity, leading to a more profound understanding of their non-binary identity.

Embracing Non-Binary Identity: A Journey to Authenticity

In their early 30s, our guest bravely came out as non-binary. This decision marked a pivotal moment in their life, leading them to embrace their true self authentically. Breaking free from societal norms and gender constructs, they found a sense of empowerment in expressing their gender identity openly.

The process of coming to terms with their non-binary identity was not without its challenges. It required confronting internalized beliefs and facing potential rejection from others. However, the courage they found within themselves allowed them to embark on this transformative journey towards authenticity.

They discuss how clothing played a crucial role in their journey, helping them feel confident and unapologetically themselves. By choosing clothes that aligned with their true identity, they were able to challenge societal expectations and express their unique self to the world confidently.

The Power of Chosen Family

As they navigated their journey, our guest realized the importance of a chosen family, a community of supportive and accepting individuals. They share the struggles they faced within their blood family, the lack of mirroring in childhood, and how these experiences shaped their self-esteem.

The rejection and misunderstanding they experienced from some family members made them feel isolated and disconnected. However, this void was later filled by the creation of their own queer house in Denver, which became a sanctuary of love, hope, and acceptance. This chosen family offered a sense of belonging that they never thought possible and showed them that family goes beyond blood relations.

Coping with Depression and Anxiety: Healing Through Love and Hope

Despite their newfound authenticity, our guest struggled with depression and anxiety. They openly share the pain of not believing in themselves, self-deprecation, and the fear of being authentic. Finding hope and love within their chosen family, faith, and community played a significant role in their healing journey.

Depression and anxiety are common struggles faced by many individuals within the queer community, often stemming from societal pressure, discrimination, and the fear of rejection. However, our guest’s journey shows that with the right support and understanding, it is possible to overcome these challenges.

They emphasize the importance of self-love and understanding, as well as surrounding oneself with supportive people who believe in their potential. By seeking help and leaning on their chosen family during difficult times, they discovered that they were not alone in their struggles and that there was strength in vulnerability.

Facing Demons: Conquering Self-Doubt

Our guest acknowledges that their journey of self-discovery is ongoing, and they continue to grapple with self-esteem and self-doubt. They recognize that depression’s root lies in childhood experiences, affecting their sense of worthiness.

By bravely confronting their demons and engaging in therapy, they are actively working towards healing and personal growth. Their journey teaches us that embracing authenticity is not always an easy path, but it is one that leads to greater self-awareness and self-compassion.

With love, hope, and faith as their guiding principles, they strive to overcome these challenges and embrace their true self without seeking external validation. Their determination to confront self-doubt and practice self-acceptance is an inspiration to others who may be on a similar journey of self-discovery.


Our guest’s courageous journey highlights the transformative power of self-discovery, acceptance, and unconditional love within the queer community. By embracing their authentic self and creating a chosen family, they found a deep sense of belonging and self-confidence.

Their story serves as an inspiring reminder that despite life’s challenges, hope and love can lead us to genuine happiness and fulfillment. Let us all embrace our true selves, support each other, and build communities that uplift and celebrate diversity.

In a world that often demands conformity, their journey encourages us to be true to ourselves, break free from societal norms, and find strength in vulnerability. By doing so, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate world where everyone can thrive as their authentic selves. As we continue to navigate our paths, may we be guided by love, acceptance, and the unwavering belief that we all deserve to belong.

Episode Debrief

Today’s guest brings such a gentle healing with their vulnerability. As someone who deals with anxiety and depression, they have developed such a strong empathy, and I believe their sophisticated sense of empathy has allowed them to not only see the intrinsic value in who they are but in others as well. Within community, he has experienced it and foster it in the development of others. 

As a religious, gender non-binary drag queen entertainer, self-esteem can be a tricky trait to obtain. Placing emphasis on other people to provide stabilizing affirmation places us in a position clinicians might call Other Esteeming, meaning our esteem comes from other people. Other esteeming says, “If you like me, I like me; if you are disappointed with me, I must be a disappointment; and if you’re not there to tell me who I am, I have no idea if I am worthy of love and acceptance.”

When our guest described the narrative they swim in all day, “not good enough, not good enough, not good enough…,” as the root to their depression, I was so eager to find words that might provide some sort of relief. A magic bullet to reverse that internal dialogue. 

As queer people who live closeted lives for years, if not decades of our lives, we have no choice but to assume we are less then and, well, not good enough.  

As we create a chosen family and a community that supports us—without conditions—we are able to learn something different about ourselves. The lessons instilled in us by trustworthy loved ones help us rewrite our script. In other words, love, unconditional love, helps nurture our sense of self-esteem. We can grow from the denigrating mantra, “I am not good enough,” to, “I am worth it!” Now that is a dramatic life change. 

To borrow an old adage, those who lose their life will find it. In this conversation, I am reminded that to lose all those old narratives that feel like protective barriers means we will actually find our true identity. Then we are able to create the love lives and relationships we truly crave!

Ready to connect with a therapist?

Contact Us

Get It Wherever You Get Your Podcasts!