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How Imposter Syndrome Affects the Queer Community

Wavy rainbow with text. Celebrating Queer Voices Imposter Syndrome

Pride Month is a time for celebration and embracing who you are and how you love. However, many people within the queer community experience imposter syndrome, not just during Pride, but also in their everyday life. While each identity of the 2SLGTBQIA+ community may experience queer imposter syndrome differently, there are some common traits for why you might be experiencing it and, more importantly, how to move past it. 

Understanding queer imposter syndrome 

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern that causes individuals to doubt their accomplishments and fear being judged or perceived as not enough. Upbringing, personality traits like perfectionism, and even mental health conditions can all contribute. While imposter syndrome can affect anyone, it has been shown to disproportionately affect the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.  

Growing up, many queer people feel excluded and pressured to mold themselves into what the world expects them to be. When they finally embrace their authentic selves, those feelings of exclusion can linger. Media portrayals and societal expectations often present a narrow image of what it means to be queer. Someone who doesn't fit neatly into a box, or identifies with multiple boxes, might question their place in the community. 

Social media can also fuel feelings of inadequacy. While it provides a platform for connection and visibility, it can also create unrealistic expectations of 2SLGBTQIA+ experiences. Seeing curated feeds showcasing ‘perfect’ lives can make someone feel like their own experiences don’t amount to enough, and that a journey that looks different isn’t valid. 

Imposter syndrome may cause queer people to not feel comfortable identifying themselves within the community because they think they don’t meet the ‘criteria’ and fear they will take up space they are undeserving of. This self-exclusion stops individuals from being embraced by the community and finding their place with others who feel, think, and love like them. It can lead to further alienation and insecurity, continuing the negative pattern of thinking. 

Guest Feature: Sucka Queen, Drag Queen

To better understand queer imposter syndrome, we sat down with a local Toronto drag queen, Sucka Queen, to ask them about their relationship with imposter syndrome and how they navigate those feelings: 

Drag queen then and now images

Standing before the mirror once I’m all done up in drag, I can't help but question, "Am I good enough?". Despite countless hours perfecting my makeup and choreography, imposter syndrome lingers. It's the relentless pressure to be at 1000% every single time I step on stage.  Each show demands innovation and excellence. I find myself avoiding certain songs, carefully curating my act to align with public expectations rather than my personal expression. Every performance is scrutinized by audiences and online critics, and this constant scrutiny intensifies my doubts, making every misstep feel like a personal failure. When those doubts creep in, I remind myself why I started. Drag brought me immense joy during the pandemic, offering a vital creative outlet when the world felt bleak and uncertain. Back then, it was about expressing myself and finding light in dark times. Remembering this helps me overcome my imposter syndrome. I focus on the joy and creativity that drag brings into my life, and I let that passion shine through in every performance. This reminder of my purpose reignites my love for the art form and reaffirms my place in the drag community.

You are more than enough

The feelings that come with imposter syndrome may never go away, but there are ways to manage them. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with those you trust can help you replace negative feelings with those of belonging and community, giving you a safe space to fall back on. It’s important to remember that everyone has insecurities, and social media is only a highlight reel. Although much easier said than done, try not to compare yourself to others and focus on your unique strengths instead. 

If you are struggling with feeling like a fraud or an imposter in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, remember that you are worthy and deserving of a space where you feel safe and accepted. CAMH offers many services and resources specifically designed for individuals who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+. Read about these life-changing services here or visit CAMH’s website to learn more. 

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