Pride and the LGBTQ+ Community
June is Pride Month
Pride month means many different things to people. For me, Pride has always been a time for me to show my support, publicly, as a proud ally. To myself, for a while, I was alone in my celebration as the B in LGBTQ+. In stating it here, two things cross my mind:
- I’m 25 years old. It’s about time I said, “Hey! My name is Lisa. I am bisexual. #OutAndProud! Cool! I’m also a writer, an actress and currently binge re-watching all of American Horror Story for the zillionth time (minus Hotel. Let’s be real here.). No, my sexuality does not change depending on whatever relationship I happen to be in. I’m okay with myself and I’d hope the same for you!”
- I may lose people in my life because of this. It would be nice if that wasn’t the case but, I cannot control the thoughts or reactions of others and I’m tired of worrying about it.
What is Pride All About?
This is a time to celebrate the strides we’ve made so far to being more openly accepted in the world, it’s a time to address the progress we’ve yet to make, and it’s a time to remember those we’ve lost in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a time for families to reunite and accept one another for who they are. For many, this is when a lot of people decide to “come out of the closet” to their friends and family, hoping for a positive response and fearing devastation.
LGBTQ+ Youth In America
With more and more LGBTQ+ youth deciding to come out of the closet, you would think that the concept would become more accepted. However, the issues that LGBTQ+ youth in America face are still lingering and show no signs of going away. Bigots and hard-headedness have caused families to divide or commit verbal and/or violent acts of hate.
40% of the homeless youth in America is LGBTQ+
They find themselves living in shelters and on the streets because they were either kicked out of their homes by families who refused to accept them or runaways fearing life at home after coming out or while still keeping their feelings secret.
20-25% experience violent hate crimes
Turn on the news. It’s rare to watch a news broadcast containing no story or stories about hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. This old, tired and backward way of expressing a difference in ideals or morals NEEDS to end. “It takes an intelligent man to silence his fists so that his mouth may speak. Violence is the language of the unintelligent.”
75-80% experience verbal abuse or threats
It’s become all too common to hear someone use discriminatory slurs against people of the LGBTQ+ community or threaten their lives because of their sexual orientation. And still, many people just keep their heads down and walk by as these attacks continue.
LGBTQ+ Youth is 4-6 times more likely to attempt suicide
Bullying, violence, verbal abuse, and other factors contribute to so many suicide attempts. With social media being our most prevalent source of communication and news, LGBTQ+ youth are more likely now than ever before to receive anonymous threats, abuse and other forms of torment which can ultimately lead to thoughts or acts of suicide.
A Message to Friends and Family
Speaking up about one’s sexuality, when it’s not considered acceptable by so many, is a very difficult thing to do. The reason they’ve chosen to come out to you is because they love you. They want to be able to be who they are and they want you to accept them for who they are. So please, stop and listen to what they have to say.
Know that this is not a choice.
Don’t you think that if we all had the choice to take the easier, less judgmental path in life, we would? No one wakes up one morning and thinks, “Hm. I think I’m going to be gay from now on.” It doesn’t work like that. Some people have known from a very young age that they were different. Others don’t realize it until a bit later in life. Regardless of when they discovered it, they are who they are.
You don’t have to agree with it…
… But you should at least try to accept it. This may not be what you expected in life. Maybe it goes against your traditional ideals. But, the worst thing you can do is to shut them out or leave them for telling you the truth. What if they never chose to come out to you? What if it ate at them inside and they decided one night to end it all? You’d lose them. You’re actually very lucky that they told you. They’re trusting you with something that’s very important and very special to them. Please, don’t let it be for nothing.
Another prevalent cause of LGBTQ+ youth suicide is the fear of rejection from loved ones. We live in a world where this youth is still afraid that they will be rejected, kicked out of their homes or shunned by their family that they would rather end their life. If you give them reason to believe that they’ll lose you if they come out, you may just lose them.
Help is out there
There are numerous organizations, charities, foundations and support groups for those in the LGBTQ+ community and the families of. If you or anyone you know could benefit from their kindness, please use the links below. No one should feel alone or have lost hope because they’ve decided to be who they are. There are so many places to turn to. Reach out, someone will be there for you.
The Trevor Project: thetrevorproject.org
It Gets Better: itgetsbetter.org
Trans Equality: transequality.org
Belong To: belongto.org (For the families of those in the LGBTQ+ community).
Fighting human nature is a fruitless undertaking. I am who I am. You are who you are. The world would be a dark, slow and monotonous place if everyone’s minds were identical. Maybe the world just needs to look to the rainbow and embrace it.