June is the month in which the LGBTQ+ communities come together in pride to celebrate the advances of the movement. It also brings awareness to the obstacles that remain to achieve the ultimate goal of equality. Pride is about love, friendship, and comradery for members of the LGBTQ+ communities and their allies. Gay Pride parades, marches, and festivals bring light to this minority group who continue to fight and struggle for their right to be accepted as their true authentic selves without negative consequences for simply being who they are.
But the truth of the matter is that not everyone feels a sense of pride. Because of rejection and bias, they experience emotional distress. Enduring prejudice for being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, whether from society, family, or the culture can overwhelm an gay person, particularly the young.
The Problem for our LGBTQ+ Youth
According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration) the bias and rejection faced by LGBTQ+ youth and young adults can have serious harmful effects on their physical and mental well-being. One only has to look at the rate of abuse, homelessness, running away from home, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicidality in these children. Research indicates that in a comparison with those who identify as heterosexual, our LGBTQ+ youth report higher levels of harassment, victimization, verbal abuse, and phsical and sexual violence. The impact is evident in substance use and abuse, sexual-risky behaviors, and suicidal ideation and attempts.
How Can You Help?
- Provide our LGBTQ+ youth and young adults a safe space to talk and explore their feelings.
- Encourage the construct of Pride.
- Know that your acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth is a significant part of their own growth and self acceptance.
- Be aware of your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
- Become willing to learn, grow, and develop your own perspective.
- Be proud in your support and your expectations through your words and actions.
- Recognize that each individual’s journey is subjective and unique and that some of their experiences could contribute to various mental health challenges. If you feel you or your loved one needs help, please reach out to our staff. We are allies willing to help.
Self-awareness and acceptance are key elements in developing Pride. Recognize the need for young people to find acceptance in their community, culture, religion, and spiritual life. The importance of Pride in self can be evident if someone tonight no longer believes that they are better off dead than being gay.