Photo courtesy of OUTHudson | Credit: JD URBAN
Why is Celebrating Pride so important for Mental Health?
Since 1970, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ+) people and allies in equality and human rights have continued to gather together in June to march with Pride. This year on June 3, 2023, Hudson's 14th Annual Pride Festival will be held by OUTHudson where numerous business, organizations, officials, and community partners will gather and march down Warren Street.
Pride events are about human rights; they empower LGBTQ+ individuals to reclaim the rights and freedoms that have been denied throughout history, and the public space they are often excluded from.
Pride Month and celebrations aren't just about watching drag queens throw t-shirts from a float or buying items with a rainbow on them. Pride matters for many reasons beyond this - for comfort and safety, raising awareness, combatting bullying and harassment, embracing diversity, and normalizing LGBTQ+ families.
Imagine walking down the street holding hands with the person you love.
For most people, this is something they may do without giving it a second thought.
But this isn't always the case, especially for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
While society today is vastly different than decades ago with regards to visibility and equality, there still exists discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia against LGBTQ+ people. Nobody likes to be stared at, ridiculed, or live in constant fear for one's safety, simply for expressing the love you have for another person, but this is a harsh reality and concern facing the community.
Pride matters because being present and active in your own life is the only way to become comfortable with who you are and living your best life.
Why is Pride held in June?
In the early morning hours of June 28th, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village of New York City. This event was the culmination of a long history of police harassment and discrimination.
While this was not the first raid, or the first time LGBTQ+ people fought back, the events following this raid sparked a series of events between the police and protesters which stretched overs six days and fundamentally changed the discourse surrounding activism in the United States.
One year following the uprising, on June 29, 1970, the first Pride march in New York City was held. There were estimates of 3-5,000 marchers at the inaugural Pride, and today NYC Pride sees numbers in the millions.
Why is Pride still important?
Since June 2011, same-sex couples in New York have been able to legally marry, while 4 years later, on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalizing it in all fifty states.
This was a historic event, providing additional equal protections to millions across the country.
But that hasn't ended discrimination, bigotry, harassment, and inequality happening every day throughout our nation. It hasn't created full equal rights, where 8 years later, over half of U.S. states could still deny LGBTQ+ Americans basic freedoms like the right to rent a home or the ability to receive public goods and services.
Over 540 Bills Restricting LGBTQ Rights have been introduced nationwide in 2023 so far. Florida's governor signed into law the controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill just last year, and you'd have to be living under a rock to have missed all the controversy with the Bud Light Transgender promotion the past two months, spurring calls for a boycott and slumped sales for the brand. As this article is written there is now controversy surrounding Target's pride collection, and just yesterday (May 30, 2023), news came that "LEGO Faces Boycott Calls Over 'Transgender Building Sets'."
Pride matters because countless people have lost their jobs, families, and lives to be able to live in peace with themselves. It matters to stand up in the face of discrimination and be proud for who you are. It matters to create visibility, hope, and support for others. Seeing others that look like you or have had similar experiences can help develop a sense of identity and self-worth, as well as help with feelings of loneliness or isolation.
Mental health for LGBTQ+ individuals
This year marks the 50th anniversary of when the American Psychiatric Association (APA) -- the largest psychiatric organization in the world -- made history by formally declaring in a resolution that homosexuality is not a mental illness or sickness.
Although being LGBTQ+ is absolutely not a mental illness, many LGBTQ+ people experience mental health struggles at higher rates. When we consider the mental health for LGBTQ+ individuals, it's important to understand the factors that contribute to these concerns.
Research suggests that LGBTQ+ individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.
The bisexual and transgender communities have the highest rates of mental health concerns within the LGBTQ+ population, while younger members of the LGBTQ+ community struggle the most with mental health concerns of all the age groups.
Photo source from national affiliate: mhanational.org
A majority of LGBTQ+ people say that they or an LGBTQ+ friend or family member have been threatened or non-sexually harassed (57 percent), been sexually harassed (51 percent), or experienced violence (51 percent) because of their sexuality or gender identity.
With the negative treatment, such as bullying, harassment, and even physical assault, it's no wonder that LGBTQ+ students are more than four times likely to attempt suicide compared to their straight and cisgender peers. For transgender individuals, data indicates that an alarming 82% have considered taking their life, with 40% attempting.
For the LGBTQ+ youth facing these experiences, they are also more than twice as likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol and six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression.
Photo source: thetrevorproject.org
There are many negative stereotypes about being LGBTQ+ which makes many uncomfortable letting people know this important part of their identity. When people do openly express this part of themselves, they face the potential of rejection from peers, colleagues, and friends can exacerbate feelings of loneliness.
As an organization founded upon mental health and wellbeing, we pride ourselves (pun intended) on being inclusive of all individuals in the communities we serve. While some businesses wave a rainbow flag for one month out of the year, we support with love, appreciation, and care for everyone all year long.
Our programs work to create an inclusive environment for everyone. For example, our peer led youth clubhouses program icon was created and illustrated by the participants which stands as a testament to the inclusivity for all persons of color, diversity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
With the care and support needed for the community for mental health and wellbeing, we strive to be a resource to help children, families, and individuals live life to its potential. This month and all year long, we hope you celebrate equality and diversity for all individuals to support mental health and overall wellbeing with us.
Be sure to join us in the OUTHudson Annual Pride Parade on Saturday June 3, 2023, as we march down Warren Street!
Mental Health Resources For LGBTQ+ Communities
Be sure to check out our Programs page on our website to connect with our various programs out there in the community! Below are some links for other organizations that help provide support and information for LGBTQ+ communities on a national level.
TrevorLifeline/Chat/Text: 24/7 support via phone, text, or online instant messaging
National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network: healing justice org committed to transforming mental health for queer & trans people of color (QTPoC)
Mental Health Fund for Queer and Trans People of Color: provides financial support for QTPoC to increase access to mental health support
Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN): national network of educators, students, and local chapters working to give students a safe, supportive, and LGBTQ+ inclusive education
Resources for Students (to create change in their own schools)
Human Rights Campaign: America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBTQ equality. Their website has a wealth of information and resources for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies
Resources (organized by topic– includes content on individual identities, communities of color, workplace, and more.
Guide for LGBTQ Youth: This guide from HRC and the Child Mind Institute offers specific tips for LGBTQ youth about the importance of mental health, how to help a friend struggling with mental health issues, and how to find an LGBTQ-affirmative therapist.
Tip Sheet for School Counselors: This checklist from HRC and the American School Counseling Association provides resources for school counselors working with LGBTQ youth during COVID-19.
Checklist for Educators: This checklist from HRC and the National Education Association offers resources for educators working with LGBTQ youth during distance learning
Checklist for School Social Workers: This new tip sheet produced by HRC and Project THRIVE partner the School Social Work Association of America guides school social workers on supporting LGBTQ students during distance learning.