June is LGBT Pride Month
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Did you know that LGBT people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual people?
This unfortunate reality only makes sense. Our heterosexual-oriented society puts LGBT folks under extreme emotional pressure. Living in a civilization that denigrates their existence drives many to take their lives.
There’s one month of the year where society recognizes these struggles: LGBT pride month.
Pride month is so much more than rainbow flags, ad marches. It’s more than wearing a supportive rainbow pin. It’s more than corporate rainbow logos. It’s more than a Pride social media post. It’s more than an appreciation month you’ll soon forget about.
Pride month saves lives.
But where did it come from? Why should we bother celebrating it?
In this rundown, you’ll learn the origins of LGBT pride. You’ll learn what struggles LGBT members face. But more importantly, you’ll learn where they can turn for help.
LGBT People in History
LGBT members have faced discrimination and harassment from society for centuries. But discrimination against LGBT is not as old as you might think. Ancient Rome may have had a society that embraced LGBT members.
Other ancient societies that embraced LGBT people:
- Angola and West Africa
- Imperialist China
- Ancient Egypt
- Ancient Greece
- Many Native American nations
Scientists still debate the genetic and social origins of LGBT behavior. It’s not clear if this is genetic, social, or both. This is a complex topic that scientists have only recently begun to study.
But one thing is clear: there is nothing unnatural about LGBT people.
Hundreds of species of animals exhibit LGBT behavior. Anyone who still believes that there’s something wrong with LGBT people is, well, wrong.
LGBT celebration and recognition go back many years. Secret gay bars and drag shows have been around for decades. In Great Britain, there even existed a secret gay language.
Many held LGBT marches to protest government treatment. But overall, the government and society discriminated against LGBT people. Laws criminalized anything approximating LGBT behavior.
But Pride month itself is relatively new. It all began with the Stonewall Riots.
The Situation Before Stonewall
Before the Stonewall riots, LGBT people lived a life of secrecy. The only way they could find friends and express themselves was at gay bars.
For many years, it was illegal to sell alcohol to LGBT people. There were strict laws about what clothing each gender could wear. Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) were outlawed.
Believe it or not, police could check the genitals of a person they believed to be cross-dressing.
If police suspected a gay bar, they could raid the place. The penalties for owners and patrons were stiff. This meant LGBT people risked their lives attending a gay bar.
Eventually, social pressure made it legal to serve alcohol to gay patrons. But LGBT behavior and dress remained illegal, as did relationships. Attending a gay bar was still a huge risk.
LGBT members continued to attend these bars. They still had nowhere else to go express themselves in the open.
The Stonewall Riots
In 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn. This was a typical raid. They checked for illegal alcohol and arrested LGBT people for their dress or behavior.
But then things changed.
The patrons began to assault the police. In minutes, the scene turned into a riot. And that riot lasted for 6 days.
These riots were the catalyst for many LGBT movements. But none among them is as famous as Pride Month.
What Is the Purpose of Pride Month?
Pride month is a solemn recognition of marginalized individuals. It’s a time for them to be proud of themselves and their heritage. It’s also a time to remember who was lost.
It’s easy to see a Pride parade and think it’s all a silly celebration. Gaudy costumes, lurid colors. Open displays of affection and love.
But this is a celebration of a marginalized group. This is a month of the year when LGBT people can feel free. It’s the one month where society recognizes their struggles and pushes for change.
Think of Pride month as a reminder of the horrors that LGBT people face.
Pride month is a yearly reminder that we aren’t there yet. Our Western society may have decriminalized LGBT behavior, but societal discrimination runs rampant. LGBT people still cannot live in the open without suffering hate.
And while some countries outlaw LGBT discrimination, many still criminalize the behavior. The following are a few of the countries that have outlawed LGBT behavior:
The point is, LGBT people experience discrimination everywhere. Pride month recognizes that. It promotes awareness of the plight that LGBT folks deal with.
LGBT and Mental Health
Unfortunately, many LGBT people suffer from mental health issues. Common issues that LGBT face in their daily lives include:
- Lack of acceptance from family and friends
- Difficulty obtaining or holding work
- Discrimination from political groups and religions
- Difficulty obtaining medical care
- Difficulty finding relationships
- Body dysmorphia (for transgender people)
- Sexual harassment
- Hate crimes and violence
- Lack of self-esteem
LGBT folks are more prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Many of them live in communities where the lack of recognition isolates them from help and care. Many have not come out and don’t understand the cause of their pain.
Our society already does a terrible job of handling mental health. We discount the importance of acceptance and non-judgmental relationships. LGBT people often struggle with mental illness because they lack these basic necessities.
And when they have nowhere else to turn, they may develop substance abuse disorder. For a marginalized group, that means there’s less help to correct this.
LGBT and Substance Abuse
Why do people turn to substance abuse in the first place?
Substance abuse is common with opioids and alcohol. These drugs allow users to escape their emotional pain for a brief window. Of course, these high-addictive substances make it impossible to live their lives.
In many cases, this is a result of trauma. Trauma can be physical or mental. Trauma can be long-term, or it can be one single event.
LGBT people deal with many types of trauma:
- Physical abuse
- Religious abuse
- Mental abuse
- Sexual harassment
For example, a gay boy might grow up in a religious home. This religion is anti-LGBT. From the moment of their birth, the religion inundates them with anti-gay messages.
This boy begins to suffer depression and anxiety. Interactions with church leaders or parents might invoke painful trauma. Everywhere he goes, these messages delegitimize his existence.
The boy is afraid to come out. He can’t access therapy since this could risk his position with his family. So, he turns to drugs.
Prevalence of LGBT Substance Abuse Disorder
Substance abuse is rampant in the LGBT community.
It’s important to understand that drugs are often the symptom of deeper problems. People do not turn to drugs only to get high. They turn to them for physical and mental pain relief.
Addictions of all kinds are survival mechanisms. They give a person who has suffered trauma temporary relief. They give them something to turn to and hope for.
Of course, these addictions do incredible damage. They make it impossible to have a normal life. The neurological and mental damage can take years to resolve.
While opioids like meth and heroin are illegal, alcohol is available everywhere. LGBT people can access alcohol at the age of 21. There is little that can stop them from descending into alcoholism.
Alcoholism is difficult to treat since many people can live functional lives with it. They can hold a job and maintain relationships. But the pull to drink has a powerful hold on them.
Luckily, alcoholics have many resources to turn to. Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous provide outlets for alcohol addicts. There is hope for those who feel hopeless.
Mental and Physical Health Is Paramount
The key takeaway here is that no one is broken. No one is too far gone. LGBT individuals who struggle with mental health or substance abuse disorder can get treatment.
While our societies are a long way from full acceptance, don’t delay in treating these issues.
Mental Health Is No Joke
The problem with LGBT mental health is that there is a stigma surrounding it. This stigma prevents people from seeking out help.
Have you heard the saying, “It’s all in your head”?
Many people make the mistake of assuming that feelings aren’t meaningful. People who feel sad or depressed should square their shoulders. That therapy is only for extreme issues.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Your brain is an organ like any other. If your heart murmurs, no one with any good sense would tell you “it’s all in your heart.” If your stomach hurts, no one would tell you “it’s all in your stomach.”
Your mind is the way you perceive reality. It determines how you live your life. It only makes sense that issues with the mind affect every aspect of your life.
Physical health and mental health are of equal importance. If someone struggles with mental problems, they should treat those issues with the same urgency as physical problems.
There’s no better time than now to get help. And there is help for every budget.
There is nothing to be ashamed of if you need help. Everyone struggles with something. Talk to family and friends and you may feel surprised how many deal with the same issues as you.
Contact a Hotline
If you struggle with mental illness, you’re one call away from an LGBT-friendly hotline. These hotlines are a great resource in a bad moment. If you’re considering suicide or self-harm, call the hotline immediately.
Keep a hotline number on your phone at all times. If you have a friend who struggles with mental health, suggest the number to them. These hotlines are confidential, and you can call without fear of outing yourself.
If you struggle with substance abuse disorder, there’s a hotline for you, too. Give them a call if you’re considering relapsing or binging. They’ll “talk you down from the edge” to remain sober.
The individuals who work for hotlines are professional volunteers. They receive little to no compensation. You can trust that any hotline operator you talk to is not there for the money.
Get Help With Us: No Matter What Recovery
Sometimes, getting help is out of your control. That’s what therapy and rehab exist. When you cannot stop the addiction on your own, it’s time to turn to a professional.
Our organization has a focus on the LGBTQIA+ community but accepts anyone from all walks of life, straight or gay. Therapy or rehab might be costly. But think of the benefits this will bring. Spending this money now could give you many more years of happy, healthy life.
If you have HIV, there are places that can help. Seeking out pro-LGBTQIA+ organizations is ideal since they won’t judge you or discourage your lifestyle.
If individual therapy isn’t your style, try group therapy. Meet like-minded people who understand your struggle. Make friends and acquaintances who can keep you accountable on your journey.
Remember, you’re never too far gone. It’s never too late to seek out the help you need. You have so much potential, and a beautiful life worth living before you.
Make This Pride Month Memorable
LGBT pride is a reminder of those among us who need the most help. Celebrate pride month to let the LGBT people around you know that they matter. Wear a pin or make a social media post.
And if you’re LGBT, maybe this pride month you can kick bad habits. Make this the month you get in contact with a professional who cares. Healing is what you need to live the best life possible.