The month of June is Pride month — a time for the LGBTQ+ community and allies to come together to celebrate and embrace identity. For families and caregivers, your support and acceptance of your loved one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression can directly impact their mental wellness. Family support and acceptance is critical to the personal safety, health, and wellbeing of all LGBTQ+ people. In supporting your loved ones, it is important to know the history behind Pride month, and have an understanding of ways you can show your support. History of Pride For most people outside of the LGBTQ+ community, Pride is seen as a rainbow parade full of glitter and colorful celebration. However, Pride represents much more than this. Pride celebrates dignity, equality, connection, self-affirmation, and increased visibility of the LGBTQ+ community. Moreover, there is a significant history behind the celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. The catalyst for Pride was actually a riot — the 1969 Stonewall riots, also known as the Stonewall uprising. To fully understand what Pride represents, it is important to understand how it began. June 28, 1969 marks the start of the Stonewall riots in which the police raided Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in New York city. Long frustrated by police brutality and harassment, patrons of Stonewall Inn fought back. This ignited protests through the streets of New York. To provide context — for openly gay and transgender people, it was basically illegal to even exist, as a majority of states had laws specifically targeting gay men. Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) pathologized homosexuality as a mental illness up until 1973. This contributed to the stigmatization and discrimination of gay people. The Stonewall uprising sparked the formation of LGBTQ political activism and was pivotal for the gay liberation movement. The Stonewall riots were vital in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality and led to the first Pride Parade a year later in 1970. Pride in Present Day Pride has a rich history in both pain and celebration. While Pride can be a time of festive celebration, considering the history, it can also be emotionally charged. Pride highlights confronting the ongoing discrimination and systemic oppression that continues to impact the LGBTQ+ community. Due to many factors, including a lack of access to treatment, harassment and family rejection, denial of civil and human rights, and high levels of stigma and discrimination, LGBTQ+ people experience greater risk for mental health conditions and suicidality. How To Support LGBTQ+ People In Your Life Social support, specifically from families, has been found to be a significant protective factor for LGBTQ+ individuals. Family support has been linked with increased well-being across a number of domains, including lower suicidality, distress, depression, hopelessness, and substance use. Family acceptance has been associated with higher self-esteem and physical and mental health. Thus, family support is vital in the overall wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people. The following are ways to support your LGBTQ+ loved ones. Educate Yourself It is not your loved one’s job to
“Is it possible that what I just did or said to my child had more to do with my needs, my fears, and my upbringing, than what is really in their best interest?” How a parent interacts with their child can have a lifelong impact extending far beyond childhood. While we would like to think that our impact is always positive, the reality is that sometimes it can have negative side effects. This is where ACEs come in. So, what are they? ACEs Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, categorize childhood trauma into 3 areas: abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. The results of these unhealthy interactions can show up down the road in mental health struggles, unstable attachment styles, and low self-esteem. But what does “unhealthy” actually mean? Well, the short answer is this: it depends. Each individual experiences different situations in their childhood, adolescence, and in adulthood. This graphic, from the ACEs Facebook page, does a really good job of identifying some key ways that parents damage their relationships with their children. But, why? Now that we’ve identified the “what”, it is natural to wonder “why”. Many times, childhood trauma is a pattern repeating itself from the generation(s) before. This includes untreated mental illness, abuse, and more. Additionally, people may not have had appropriate role models to demonstrate what it looks like to meet physical and emotional needs of those dependent on them. “Well, my parents didn’t tell me they loved me and I turned out just fine.” While that may be true, think of all the untapped potential within you as a result of that. The answer to that “why” question is something we might never know. Lack of answers often come from our parents not having the awareness. Perhaps they aren’t aware that they did anything was wrong or unhealthy. And if they do have the awareness, they are unsure of healthier alternatives. People often resort to things they have learned. This is why it’s so easy for things to be transferred generationally. It may seem like I am making excuses for parents who do not meet the needs of a child, but that is not my intention. When the cycle is broken, those responsible should be held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. That accountability can come in the form of conversations, boundaries, separation or distance. Negative Impacts Now, let’s circle back around to the negative effects that I keep talking about. ACEs can result in things that become our core beliefs. In other words, what we truly think and feel about ourselves. These are likely to show up during adolescent and adult years. Though this list is not all encompassing, here are a few examples of those beliefs: Feeling like you don’t belong Struggling to trust people Thinking that people will leave you Having big emotional reactions to (seemingly) small things Feeling not good enough Thinking that romantic relationships are always really hard work Struggling to say no Feeling angry about the past Struggling with
Compassion implies that a person sees the suffering or another and wants to help them. What if we could replace our inner critic with inner self-compassion?
When we think of bullying, we typically envision the kid stealing lunch money or shoving their peer to the ground at recess. Sure, these are the most common depictions of bullying in pop culture, but bullying doesn’t end when we graduate high school. So how can we handle adults who bully us?
Have you ever noticed that showing gratitude feels good? Practicing being grateful is linked with mental well-being, including increased self-esteem, better sleep, higher energy levels, increased optimism, decreased anxiety, and reduced depressive symptoms.
STOP listening to your inner critic. This is the voice that says, “you’re worthless,” “you’re fat,” “why can’t you be like other people?” Challenge these negative thoughts and STAND UP TO YOUR INNER CRITIC. When you recognize the inner critic, you can begin to challenge and defy the inner critic and see yourself for who you really are.
It’s easy to feel lost or disconnected if you don’t understand your identities. As people, we have a strong need to belong, and identities can lead to a higher sense of belonging. Exploring your identities can be hard. Having a safe and comfortable space to do that hard work is so important.