The month of June is better known as “Pride Month” which celebrates the LGBTQ community by raising awareness of sexual diversity and gender variance. Pride month also helps increase self-affirmation, inclusivity, dignity and equal rights in the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender communities. And although we may have come a long way since its inception, the LGBTQ community still lives in very frightening times and many are too afraid to be who they want to be for fear of rejection, judgment, ridicule, violence, prejudices or discrimination.
Due to many of the challenges that the LGBTQ community face it is of little to no surprise that they are among the highest rate of any one community to suffer with Mental Health challenges, more so than the general population. Just imagine yourself as a young child, frightened because you feel “different” from the rest of your peer group or imagine you try to hide your “differences” for fear that you may be rejected, judged, or ridiculed by your peers and family, or imagine longing to be able to connect with other peers who are also “different” but you don’t know how to, or imagine still that those “differences” you have been trying to bury for so long become known within your peer group and suddenly you find yourself the victim of discrimination, prejudices or worse, violence.
These are just some examples of what individuals in the LGBTQ community may struggle with for part or all of their lives which can easily escalate into Depression, Anxiety and Trauma when they begin to lack self-worth and self-acceptance or begin feeling hopeless and alone. The long term effects of internalizing their negative self-talk can also create many additional struggles of both shame and guilt. They may feel shame and guilt for being “different” or for feeling the way they do, or for doing what they do, all of which can lead to further emotional and physical scars.
Many of you reading this right now may have once been that frightened young child, or maybe you are still struggling with the pain and anguish of being “different” in your adult years or maybe you were one of the lucky ones who found support from your friends, family and community right away. Either way it is especially important to recognize and celebrate the “Pride” movement and everything and everyone it stands up for as they take the mental health of their communities very seriously and bring people together in such a meaningful way.
Celebrating Pride month helps us imagine a world where being “different” is okay, where being “different” is acceptable and that we should all embrace our differences in one another because isn’t that what makes the world a much brighter and more colourful place to live just like the Pride flag so boldly represents.