If you are LGBTQ and struggling with a mental health concern, please know that you are not alone, and that your mental health issues are not because you are LGBTQ.
It is a common misconception that kids are “going through a phase” when they vocalize their feelings on gender identity. For some this may be true, but for many it is not.
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