By Andres Jaramillo | LPC
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 1960’s 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. Around 2/3 of LGBTQ youth report that someone in their lives tried to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity and suppress who they are. LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of their heterosexual counterparts, and 40% of LGBTQ adults have experienced rejection from a family member or a close friend.
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. Recent studies and polls show that about 5.6% 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, NOAH’s comprehensive team of counselors and psychiatrists. Contact us for an appointment today.