Feel good by contributing – help others to gain clarity on their sexual health. Note: TBD Health Inc. is not a non-profit.
By Dr. Sophia Murphy, DBH, SXI
As Pride Month marches on, there are ample opportunities to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. While this is a beautiful time, it can also be distressing and difficult for marginalized people to feel accepted and safe. If you’re struggling with your identity as a member of the community, read on for support on how to be your own biggest cheerleader (and find others along the way). If you love someone in the LGBTQ+ community and want to be an ally, this post is for you too!
Unfortunately, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community isn’t all sunshine and rainbows (pun intended) due to the ever-increasing presence of judgment, political silencing, and even violence. In 2023 alone, more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation have been enacted across 41 states in the USA. Within that legislation, 22 states now have bans aimed at Transgender youth (1). States are enacting laws that give schools/educators the right to refuse using a student’s pronouns, to prevent people from using any terminology that references LGBTQ+ members, and even requiring youth who have shared their identities in confidential spaces to be outed to parents/guardians (1). These legal events have significant impacts on mental health and emotional wellbeing. Whether your identity is denied, ignored, or outright discriminated against, a person is not immune to these messages and interactions.
Read More: Celebrating PRIDE 101! _**
Shame is the feeling we experience when we believe we are inherently “bad,” less than, or unworthy. It’s impossible to avoid feeling shame when your identity is maligned. Shame runs high in minority groups due to oppression and messages which tell them they are abnormal when compared to dominant culture (2). Minority stress is well documented and leads many people in marginalized groups to hate themselves or strive to be more like the dominant group, even to their own detriment. When shame is left unaddressed, it also becomes highly correlated with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and an overall poor relationship with yourself. This often leads people to hide their identities or deny their own truths. The stress associated with “keeping yourself small” is also consequential and very real (2).
The first step to navigating shame is to call it out and identify where it came from! Shame is given to us and thus, we can give it back! We can challenge narratives around hatred and discrimination in order to foster self-compassion. We can challenge societal norms to realize that being different is NOT the same as being bad or “less than.” We also work through shame when we experience empathy! When we share our experiences and feelings with others and are met with acceptance and understanding, shame can’t survive (2)! That’s why building a community with other LGBTQ+ people is so important. And if you don’t have immediate access to that right now, find support in allies; personal and professional relationships that affirm your unique identity and love you as you are.
Read More: National Coming Out Day _**
Sometimes the hardest step is the first one. If you need support and resources, ask! Do your research and investigate local community agencies that create opportunities for meeting other LGBTQ+ people. Researching local Pride events in your area is a great start to locating businesses and people who support the community. Find grassroots organizations in your area and research mental health and medical providers who are affirming. Looks for clear indications of advocacy and allyship on profiles and websites. Below is a list of national organizations to get you started!
Now more than ever, the LGBTQ+ community needs advocates! If you’re an ally, here are 5 things you can do this month to show support:
Human Rights Campaign. (2023). LGBTQ+ Americans Fight Back: A Guidebook.
Murphy, S. (2023, June 9). Shame: Clinical implications for treatment. Arizona Trauma Institute. Mesa, AZ, United States.
This article provides information about sexual health, healthcare and/or related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of TBD Health Inc.