Navigating Relationships and Identity: Insights from Two LGBTQIA+ Individuals

Isaac and Jaime’s Journey: Balancing Gender Identity and Family Dynamics

Isaac and Jaime both bring unique perspectives to the LGBTQIA+ community, shedding light on the intersection of gender identity and family relationships. Their experiences highlight the complexities many LGBTQIA+ individuals face when their identity doesn’t align with family expectations.

Isaac’s Journey: Navigating Gender Identity within the Family

Isaac opens up about the challenges of reconciling his gender identity with family dynamics. Growing up in a culturally conservative environment, he faced punishment for any gender transgressions. This upbringing made it difficult for him to fully express his gender identity.

Despite strained family relationships, Isaac emphasizes the importance of maintaining connections with those who may not fully understand or accept his identity. His story sheds light on the internal conflict many LGBTQIA+ individuals face in balancing their true selves with family expectations.

Jaime’s Experience: Seeking Cosmopolitan Spaces for Self-Expression

Jaime’s story delves into the significance of finding open-minded and cosmopolitan environments where they can be their authentic selves. They emphasize the desire to avoid code-switching and to fully embrace all aspects of their identity.

Jaime’s preference for cosmopolitan spaces resonates with those who understand the importance of seeking relationships and environments where their identity is not only accepted but celebrated. Their journey highlights the need for LGBTQIA+ individuals to find spaces where they can express their true selves without reservation.

Navigating Relationships and Identity: Insights for the LGBTQ+ Community

Both Isaac and Jaime are on personal journeys of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Their experiences offer valuable insights into the challenges LGBTQIA+ individuals face when navigating relationships and identity.

Their stories will undoubtedly resonate with others in the LGBTQIA+ community who are on similar journeys. They remind us all of the importance of finding spaces and relationships where we can be our authentic selves and the ongoing work required to advocate for our true selves within complex social contexts.

Episode Description

Hosts Isaac and Jamie sit with the ever-brilliant Zebulon Hurst, a black, trans non-binary student in graduate school pursuing a Master of Divinity, and talk about their respective journeys with their gender identity. Isaac and Zebulon go on to comment on being queer people of color in higher education and the ways they’ve felt out of place yet demanded space.

You can find Zebulon on Instagram at @blackestgarlic


GLSEN Pronouns Resource

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Table Of Contents

Episode Summary

Host Isaac Archuleta sits with the founder, owner, and lead singer of Everyday Sunday. They consider how his religious beliefs affected his choices growing into adulthood and the eventual ending of his marriage. They also explore what it means to have a sexual orientation, how it affects all parts of one’s life, and how an oppressive religious background can significantly harm someone.

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Embracing Authentic Love: A Journey of

Self-Discovery and Healing With Trey Pearson

The journey towards self-acceptance and embracing one’s true identity can be filled with challenges and triumphs. For Isaac Archuleta, founder and CEO of IAm Clinic, and Trey Pearson, former lead singer of the Christian rock band Everyday Sunday, this journey took them through uncharted territories of their sexual orientation. Isaac, as a psychotherapist, understands the intricacies of human emotions, while Trey’s personal experience of coming out as gay after years of hiding it resonates with countless individuals worldwide. In this heartfelt and honest conversation, they delve into the process of self-discovery, love, and the impacts of oppressive religious beliefs on the LGBTQ+ community.

The Weight of Repression

Trey shares his experience growing up in an evangelical world, feeling forced to suppress his feelings towards men due to deeply ingrained beliefs that being gay was a choice and an abomination to God. This internal struggle left him feeling isolated and unable to experience genuine love, which affected his relationships and marriage. The weight of not understanding what love was supposed to feel like with women was profound, leaving him feeling broken and hopeless.

In a world where diversity should be celebrated, Trey’s story highlights the damaging impact of repressive ideologies on individual lives. He endured years of self-denial, fearing the consequences of acknowledging his true self. The pain of living inauthentically took a toll on his mental and emotional well-being, leaving scars that took time to heal.

A Journey of Acceptance

After many years of suppressing his true self, Trey finally allowed himself to experience love without guilt or shame. His self-acceptance opened a new world of emotions and experiences he had longed for but never allowed himself to explore. This newfound freedom led him to understand that sexual orientation is not just about physical pleasure but the mechanism that guides one towards life-changing love.

With a genuine commitment to understanding himself better, Trey embarked on a journey of self-discovery. He found the courage to embrace his true identity, acknowledging that his sexual orientation was an essential part of who he is. This realization was pivotal, as it empowered him to accept and love himself wholly and unconditionally.

Reconstructing Shame

Isaac discusses the harmful effects of oppressive religious beliefs on the LGBTQ+ community and how sexual orientation is often misunderstood and misrepresented. The clash between the idea of God being love and the unwillingness of some religious groups to accept love in its fullest spectrum is explored.

It is crucial to recognize that religious beliefs should not be used as weapons to shame or marginalize individuals. Love, in its purest form, transcends the boundaries of gender and orientation. As Isaac and Trey advocate, authentic love is unconditional, free from judgment, and accepts people for who they genuinely are.

They shed light on the importance of embracing authenticity and deconstructing shame, which can profoundly affect not only the individual but also their relationships and family dynamics. Many LGBTQ+ individuals face rejection from their families, leading to fractured relationships and emotional distress. By challenging the underlying prejudices and fostering an environment of acceptance, we can begin to heal the wounds inflicted on these individuals.

Love Beyond Borders

Trey’s experience of coming out and embracing his true self has led him to explore the depths of love in various relationships. He shares how love goes beyond the confines of a heterosexual marriage and that healthy, authentic love is not about fulfilling societal expectations but rather being true to oneself and honoring others’ authentic selves.

By embracing his true identity, Trey found the courage to build meaningful connections with others. He discovered that love knows no boundaries and can exist between two people, regardless of their gender. In essence, he realized that love, at its core, is about understanding, compassion, and a genuine connection between individuals.

The Power of Vulnerability

Embracing vulnerability has become an essential aspect of Trey’s journey. Through his music and platform, he shares his story to inspire and support others who might be going through similar experiences. The power of vulnerability is emphasized, as it enables individuals to connect on a deeper level and foster a sense of community and understanding.

Sharing one’s vulnerabilities can be frightening, but it also creates a space for others to feel seen and heard. It allows individuals to connect with their shared struggles, triumphs, and aspirations, fostering a sense of unity and empathy. Through vulnerability, Trey has connected with countless individuals who have found solace and support in his journey.

anchor-Transformative Effects

As Trey reflects on the impact of his coming out journey, he highlights how it transformed his art and creativity. Embracing his true self allowed him to tap into his creative potential and share his experiences through his music. This newfound authenticity has resonated with his audience, creating a positive ripple effect and empowering others to embrace their truth.

When individuals are given the freedom to be authentic, their creativity flourishes, and they can contribute to the world in unique and meaningful ways. Trey’s journey exemplifies the power of authenticity in creating transformative effects not only for oneself but also for those around them.

Healing and Empowerment

Both Isaac and Trey share their commitment to empowering others on their journeys of self-discovery and healing. Trey’s work extends beyond music, as he hosts retreats and provides a safe space for individuals struggling with their sexual orientation. He has witnessed the transformative effects of providing support and encouragement, creating a network of people striving to be their most authentic selves.

Through their experiences, Isaac and Trey have become advocates for mental health, LGBTQ+ rights, and the power of self-acceptance. Their work is a testament to the healing power of authentic love and the impact it can have on individuals and communities.


The journey of self-acceptance and embracing one’s true identity can be challenging, yet ultimately liberating. Through the candid conversation between Isaac and Trey, we witness the power of vulnerability, the healing effects of love, and the transformation that occurs when one chooses to live authentically. Their stories serve as beacons of hope for those still navigating their paths to self-discovery, reminding us that love is indeed love in all its forms.

By embracing our true selves and fostering an environment of acceptance, we can create a world where everyone can love and be loved without fear or shame. It is essential to challenge oppressive beliefs and embrace the diversity of human experience. Together, we can build a more inclusive and compassionate society, where authentic love can thrive, and every individual can live their truth with pride.

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What is Gender Non-Conformity (GNC)?

Gender non-conformity refers to individuals whose gender expression or identity does not align with societal expectations or norms associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. GNC individuals may identify as transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, or simply as not conforming to traditional gender roles and presentations.

GNC people may express their gender through various means, such as clothing, hairstyles, mannerisms, or other physical traits that are typically associated with a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. It’s important to note that gender non-conformity is not the same as sexual orientation, as it relates to one’s gender identity and expression rather than who they are attracted to.

As our understanding of gender evolves, parents and guardians seem to be taking a more proactive approach in providing their gender nonconforming children with a safe and supportive environment. They are researching common terms, reaching out to counselors for either themselves or their children, and trying to find a sense of community for not only their children, but themselves as well. As a genderfluid individual, this is so heartwarming to see.

Examples of Gender Non-Conformity

  • A person assigned male at birth who enjoys wearing traditionally feminine clothing or makeup.
  • An individual assigned female at birth who prefers a more masculine presentation and uses gender-neutral pronouns.
  • A non-binary person who doesn’t identify strictly as male or female and expresses their gender through a combination of masculine and feminine traits.
  • Someone who transitions between masculine and feminine expressions depending on their mood or circumstances (genderfluid).

GNC individuals may or may not identify as transgender, and their gender expression can be fluid or consistent over time.

Challenges and Issues Faced by GNC Individuals

Discrimination and Stigma

Unfortunately, GNC individuals often face discrimination, prejudice, and stigma due to societal norms and expectations around gender expression. They may experience harassment, bullying, or discrimination in various settings, including workplaces, educational institutions, and public spaces.

Mental Health Concerns

The stigma and discrimination faced by GNC individuals can take a toll on their mental health. They may experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues due to the stress of navigating a society that often fails to understand or accept their identity.

Family Dynamics and Acceptance

For GNC individuals, particularly those who come out or express their gender identity at a young age, finding acceptance and support within their family can be a significant challenge. Family members may struggle to understand or accept their loved one’s gender expression, leading to strained relationships and potential conflicts.

Societal Norms and Expectations

GNC individuals often face societal pressures to conform to traditional gender roles and expectations. They may encounter challenges in accessing gender-neutral facilities, using their preferred pronouns, or being recognized and respected for their authentic gender identity.

Although this trend is well underway, a lot of parents still struggle to know where to start. A common question I’m asked by parents and loved ones of gender nonconforming youth is: how can I be supportive?

supporting GNC individuals

Step 1 – Listen

Children and teens will tell you who they are. It’s up to us—parents, guardians, and other family members—to listen and believe what they say. Let’s say your teen gathers up the courage to say they are nonbinary, trans, genderfluid, or any other identity that doesn’t align with their gender assigned at birth. How would you respond? With a warm embrace and an “I love you”? Or with the (unfortunately) common, “It’s just a phase”?

Step 2 – Acceptance and Validation

You may not agree with or understand an individual’s chosen gender identity, but that is not required to accept and validate their gender experience. Acceptance and validation can be shown by using their preferred name, appropriate pronouns, and/or helping make adjustments to their appearance such as hairstyles or clothing. Acceptance can also be shown by creating a safe, judgement-free space at home for them.

Step 3 – Be Their Safe Space

We unfortunately live in a society that can be unkind or even hostile to minorities of any kind – racial, sexual, etc. This can often make children and adolescents feel like they don’t have a place or that they don’t belong. If the world at large is challenging for your child to navigate, you have the opportunity to make home their sanctuary.

Give them space and freedom to explore what gender means and feels like to them. This may come in the form of changing identities and/or their gender expression. Gender may not be a static experience for them. For example, an individual who is genderfluid may alternate between gendered pronouns and gender-neutral pronouns, or they may present feminine sometimes and masculine at other times.

Try to remember, this is for them, not you.

As a parent, close friend, partner or ally, potentially frequent changes in identity, including pronouns, may sound overwhelming. Some gender nonconforming individuals use they pronouns (they/them/their), while others fluctuate between they/them, he/him, she/her or even prefer neopronouns (e.g.: xe/xem/xyr).

* This is not an exhaustive list of pronouns, but it’s a good place to start. When in doubt, you can ask what pronouns an individual uses. *

As you can see, there are numerous gender pronouns for people to use. If this is new for you, it may seem a bit confusing and possibly overwhelming. Here’s a quick guide on how to correctly use an individual’s pronouns. 

Subject: They walked the dog this morning. 
Object: I gave faer a new car. 
Possessive: Pers favorite color is orange. 
Possessive Pronoun: The fluffy dog is hirs. 
Reflexive: Ae loves everything about aerself.

Intersectionality and Diversity within the GNC Community

The GNC community is diverse and intersects with various other identities and experiences. It’s essential to acknowledge and understand the unique challenges faced by individuals who belong to multiple marginalized groups.

Race and Ethnicity

GNC individuals from different racial and ethnic backgrounds may face compounded challenges due to intersecting forms of discrimination and cultural norms. For example, a GNC person of color may experience both racism and gender-based discrimination simultaneously.


Gender non-conforming individuals with disabilities can face additional barriers and challenges related to accessibility, healthcare, and societal perceptions. It’s crucial to consider the unique needs and experiences of GNC individuals with disabilities to ensure they receive appropriate support and accommodation.

Socioeconomic Status

Individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may face additional obstacles in accessing resources, support, and healthcare related to their gender identity and expression. Economic factors can also influence the level of acceptance and support they receive within their communities.

Age and Life Stage

The experiences of Gender non-conforming individuals can vary greatly depending on their age and life stage. Younger GNC individuals may face different challenges than older adults, such as navigating school environments, familial acceptance, or finding supportive communities.

By acknowledging and understanding the intersectionality within the GNC community, allies can provide more inclusive and tailored support that addresses the diverse needs and experiences of individuals.

How do you keep up?

Well, that’s entirely up to you. The important thing to remember is to make a conscious effort to use their preferred pronouns, name, and, when in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask what their preference is. Refer to people how they prefer to be referred to, not in a way that is convenient for you. This may be uncomfortable for some, especially in the beginning; however, if you’re not addressing them in the way they want to be addressed, then you’re not addressing them at all. Being supportive, in any role (parent, friend, partner, etc), involves accepting and respecting who they are each and every day. Let’s continue to make strides towards a safer, more accepting and inclusive society.

If you need personalized support in learning how to best affirm and embrace your gender non-conforming loved one, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Our team is ready to provide guidance, resources, and a listening ear as you navigate this journey together. Showing up for your loved one with acceptance and creating a safe space for them is crucial, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Reach out to us today to start building a more inclusive world.


It Feels Good To Be Yourself (book)
Gender Wheel (book)
16 Great LGBTQIA+ Books for Kids and Teens (list)
Picture Books (list)  

(PDF) A Guide to Being a Trans Ally – Straight for Equality
(webpage) Understanding Gender – Gender Spectrum
(article) Transgender 101: A Guide to Gender and Identity to Help You Keep Up with the Conversation – Everyday Feminism
Transgender Children of God by Megan Rohrer
(PDF) Biblical Sexuality and Gender: Renewing Christian Witness to the Gospel – Pacific School of Religion

Family Support:

PFLAG – (PDF) Faith In Our Families: Parents, Families, and Friends Talk About Faith, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity – PFLAG
Christian – Harbor  |  FreedHeartsEmbracing the JourneyQ Christian Fellowship
Parent/Peer Led – Ally Parents – Stand With Trans  |  PFLAG
Support In Colorado – Center on Colfax   |  One Colorado  | OASOS  | TYES Inc.  

Colorado Medical Resources:
Denver Health
Transgender Center of the Rockies
UC Health
CSU Health Network
Planned Parenthood

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Jump To:

As A Therapist

For Me

This Era

Todays Language

Building Awareness

Holistic Understanding

It is often seen in films and shows, that existential, authenticity tug of war for queer people: I am too straight for my queer friends and too gay for my straight friends. Being bisexual, in many ways, mirrors that sentiment. The queerness that I embrace gives me access to the LGBTQIA+ community, but when I have dated someone of the opposite gender, I have had to prove my queerness in overt ways. 

As A Therapist

As a therapist, I often talk about the spectrum of sexuality: what it is, why it exists, but more importantly, what it encompasses. To me, bisexuality was a way of articulating my attractions to all genders on that spectrum. To many, it may be argued that what I describe here is actually ‘pansexuality.’ Fair. Good point.

For Me

But for me, someone who was born in 1983 and established my public sexual identity many years ago, ‘bisexual’ was the best term to which I had access. And now, in a new era with more sophisticated terms and more mature understandings, the label that feels like my emotional home, Bisexual, has become a bit outdated and limited in what it used to say about me.

This Era

So in an era of both fighting for what is true and curating language to accurately describe who I am in the world, ‘bisexual’ is more a term I grieve and reflect upon with immense gratitude. The sexual identity, ‘bisexual,’ gave me orientation in a chaotic world and belonging when I felt isolated. ‘Different’ or ‘same-sex attracted’—a hideous term given to me by a homophobic religion that persecuted me for who I am—were no longer acceptable. Being bisexual during they days when I was just finding my footing was a life boat that carried me from novice to expert.

Todays Language

In today’s language, I am certainly pansexual. Gender has no barring over my attractions. Personalities do. And in this light, I need to represent who I am with more articulate language, not just because it is my truth, but because sexual identities are also our weapons against homophobia and transphobia. To say that I am pansexual is to describe the normal, biological variations that are possible within human sexuality. The implementation of the term ‘pansexual’ is a way to normalize that which is often stigmatized and hated.

Building Awareness

This may be an off-color blog for bisexuality awareness. But as someone who has found so much comfort in the term ‘bisexual,’ I have to give thanks where thanks is due. Bisexuality saved me from life-threatening shame and allowed me to find a home when I was utterly lost.

Holistic Understanding

Although I have come to see my attractions in a more holistic way, it certainly does not mean that others should or need to follow my path. Bisexuality is a legitimate sexual identity, and more so a valid sexual orientation. If ‘bisexuality’ is your home, may this time bring a sense of hope, pride, and self-confidence. We need you in the world. What is a rainbow that’s missing a section of its colors? It’s no longer a rainbow.

Need help navigating your sexuality? Contact us today!

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