For those who do not know, June is Pride Month! *Cue the confetti* I want to take the time to wish everyone a Happy Pride! Pride is a time of celebration for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community. It's also a time to commemorate the Gay Liberation movement, and highlight the ongoing fight for gay rights in the US and abroad.
LOVE IS LOVE.
There is a lot to be proud of when it comes to Pride. This year many events are virtual due to COVID, but there are several local in-person activities that can be found on the website at midsouthpride.org. Be sure to check out the details and see if there is a way you'd like to get involved- Pride is worth celebrating every day.
It warms my heart that many major retailers are now openly selling Pride items that have rainbows, flags, and other symbols of the LGBTQ+ community. This is a big change from only a few years ago where major retailers were less supportive. Parts of our culture and community, even here in the MidSouth, have been changing to be more open to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community; however, there is still a far way to go. Pride is so much more than rainbows, parades and the fun bright, glittery outfits. I love the image below as it notates what Pride actually consists of versus what people may think Pride is about-
It is important for everyone to know that members of the Pride community have additional barriers to overcome as compared to their heterosexual, cisgender peers. It almost seems like every week, there is a new law that comes out that is some form of discrimination against people in the LGBTQ+ community. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are also more likely to have strained relationships with family members and church members because of their identity. They are more likely to become homeless at a young age due to family members not supporting them. Also, there is an inherent risk of employment discrimination based on having a queer identity. There is a risk of other forms of discrimination as well and even hate crimes. The risks do not stop there; there are far many more.
With all of that in mind, it is not surprising that people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender are more likely to have a mental health diagnosis such as anxiety or depression. Research shows that people who are LGBTQ+ are also more at risk for acts of self harm or even suicide, especially in the teen and young adult years. People in the LGBTQ+ community also have an increased risk of substance abuse disorders and eating disorders. Despite the increased risks of being in the community, there is still a lot to appreciate and celebrate. I want for everyone to know:
And know that there is a lot of good that the future holds for each of you, even if it may be difficult to see clearly now.
At Sunflower Counseling Services, we have created a safe place for members of the LGBTQ+ community to come for mental health services and support. We have a PRIDE Youth Group for LGBTQ+ teens ages 13-17 that meets biweekly on Wednesday evenings at 6:30pm. We also have a PRIDE Adult Group for LGBTQ+ individuals that meets biweekly on Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm. In each of the PRIDE Groups, members of the community come together to bond over similar struggles, discuss different solutions for the problems that they are facing in their daily lives, and process any concerns or topics of choice.
Additionally, we are currently are taking a list of caregivers/parents who are interested in a processing group about how to support their loved ones who identify within the LGBTQ+ community. The date and time of this group is still to be determined however, if you are interested, please give us a call at 901-232-1956 to get placed on an interest list. You can also call the office to join either PRIDE Adult or Teen Group as well- we always love to have new faces join us!
Take care and Happy Pride! Celebrate who you are! Remember, LOVE is LOVE.
Amanda Gitomer, LCSW
In PRIDE groups this month we are celebrating our ONE YEAR anniversary of group by giving away PRIDE goody bags (pictured below)!