By Andres Jaramillo, LPC | Counselor
During the month of June, you may see more color around your workplace or community as the rainbow flag flies in windows, porches, stores, and websites, but why? Pride month.
June is LGBTQ Pride Month
June was first officially declared lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) pride month by President Clinton in 1999. But the real start of this story, woven into the fabric of American history, goes back to the 1960s and before, when brave and thoughtful LGBTQ people stood up to raids, rejection, and harassment, paving the right to be supported and loved.
For some, the image of pride month is only rainbow flags, festivals or parades, which are held all around the world, and a chance for the LGBTQ and ally community to come together and celebrate the historical events and progress in the story. Deeper though, Pride month, and the Pride movement that began decades ago, has a much more important message.
When a person is seen or feels “not normal,” because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the risks of emotional distress, mental health concerns, and even suicide goes up. LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of their heterosexual counterparts and are placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society. In fact, according to a survey conducted by The Trevor Project, in the last year 41% of LGBTQ youth seriously contemplated suicide and 14% attempted suicide.
Research conducted by GLAAD indicates support for equal rights for LGBTQ people by non-LGBTQ people is now at an all-time high of 84%, up five percentage points from 2021. Additional studies show that while acceptance is growing, the need to continue educating society as a whole is critical with 55% of non-LGBTQ Americans stating they do not understand the dimensions of the LGBTQ community or how to describe individuals that make up the LGBTQ community.
We must choose to accept that what we have been taught or seen as “normal” needs to be challenged for the wellbeing of our family, friends, and neighbors. A recent Gallup poll shows that 7.2% of US adults, or about 18 million adults, identify as LGBTQ, so chances are someone around you identifies as LGBTQ and Pride month reminds us to think about the role we have in their lives. What is normal is to choose to stand by someone’s side and be their support. By doing that you can have a positive influence in their emotional, mental, and even physical wellbeing.
Everyone experiences hardships – at work, in our family or relationships, with our friends, with ourselves – and we can all relate to the idea that when we know we are loved and supported, we have more courage, confidence, and flexibility to take on life’s difficulties. It is normal to stand together and support our LGBTQ family, friends, and neighbors. Afterall, we’re all just trying to live our best life.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental or emotional health, consider talking with one of NOAH’s counselors or psychiatrists for help. Contact us for an appointment today.