LGBTQ+ Pride Month June 2023 & Mental Health

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This year’s world-famous Pride Month takes place in June 2023, where the LGBTQ+ community proudly dances, marches, sings, and parades along the main streets of all major U.S. cities, from New York to San Francisco, from Phoenix to Chicago, and from Seattle to Washington D.C. 

We will continue to love and live our truth and be our full and complete selves – and we are not going to apologize for it.”

Sandra Pérez, the NYC Pride Executive Director

Sadly, however, this year’s bright, rainbow-colored, community-based festivities will occur against the ominous backdrop of recently proposed anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation.

U.S. LGBTQ+ community facing new structural discrimination

In the troubled world of U.S. politics, existing LGBTQ+ rights have suddenly become the new hot topic and, unfortunately, the new prime target for conservative GOP lawmakers nationwide. 

U.S. states such as Ohio, Louisiana, and Texas are now actively trying to clone Florida’s and Alabama’s newly approved bills – known in media circles as the “Don’t Say Gay” Acts – which are aimed at removing existing LGBTQ+ rights and legal acceptance in the U.S. education system and designed to affect LGBTQ+ children and teenagers particularly.

The specific details of the bills do vary between the states. Still, all seek to prohibit schools from using a curriculum acknowledging or discussing gender identity or sexual orientation topics.

An overt form of structural transphobia and homophobia

Arjee Restar, assistant professor in the University of Washington’s Department of Epidemiology, stated recently in an interview, “The institutionalization of these bills is an overt form of structural transphobia and homophobia, and it goes against all public health evidence in creating a safe and supportive environment for transgender, nonbinary, queer, gay and lesbian youths and teachers to thrive.”

Sandra Pérez, the NYC Pride Executive Director, explained it perfectly: “Our community has been through tremendous hardships over the past few years, beginning with the pandemic, and continuing with a reckoning with social justice, threats to our democracy, and more recently armed conflict overseas.”

Compounding these struggles is the onslaught of legislation around the country that directly targets LGBTQIA+ individuals. In spite of these challenges and attacks, we are here to tell the country and the world: we will not be erased.”

The LGBTQ+ community is not requesting special treatment – and it has never done so. Community members wish to be treated like everyone else in American society. 

Unfortunately, in some parts of today’s America, particularly in the Southeast, that’s asking too much.

On a brighter note, let’s first look at this year’s Pride Month events and celebrations – many of them world-famous, such as the NYC Pride March.

LGBTQ+ pride month celebrations 2023: A look back and forward

LGBTQ+ Pride Month, celebrated each June, is a time to honor and recognize the rights, culture, and achievements of the LGBTQIA+ community. This year, June was marked with various celebrations and events across the U.S., while the Pacific Northwest Black Pride is set to continue the festivities in August.

Pride month in June 2023: A recap

NYC pride, New York

One of the standout celebrations occurred in New York City, home to one of the largest Pride events globally. This year’s NYC Pride theme, “Strength in Solidarity,” emphasized the cultural importance and unity of the LGBTQIA+ community within the framework of contemporary society. The signature Pride March on June 25 was a memorable occasion, complemented by various community gatherings throughout the weekend.

For more information about NYC Pride June 2023, please visit www.nycpride.org.

Art exhibitions

June 2023 also saw the spotlight on queer artists through art exhibitions, screenings, and more. Noteworthy events included:

  • Divine Queerness at The Center in New York City
  • Pride at Mia at The Minneapolis Institute of Art
  • Pride Not Prejudice at Sausalito Art Center
  • Pride: In Retrospect at Newport Art Museum

For those who missed these events or are looking for other ways to connect, the website National Today offers more ideas on engaging with Pride celebrations.

Pacific Northwest Black Pride: August 2023

Looking ahead, the Pacific Northwest Black Pride will be hosting its 6th annual Pride Celebration from August 9-13, 2023. With the theme “One Community, Many Faces,” this series of events is a testament to the ongoing work toward freedom and justice for Black LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Here’s a glimpse of what to expect:

  • Workshop on Health & Wellness Deviant Playhouse on August 10, 2023
  • Cultural Health & Wellness Festival from August 11-12, 2023
  • Opening Reception on August 11, 2023
  • Pride Speed Dating event on August 11, 2023

Some of these events may require tickets, while others are free to attend. Visiting the Pacific Northwest Black Pride’s website is advised to understand ticketing and admission requirements.

Through the decades: The spirit of Stonewall lives On

As the old drug-related adage goes, “If you remember the 1960s, you weren’t there.” The “Summer of Love,” the music evolution, long-haired hippies and Brylcreem rock n’ rollers, and the rise of lysergic acid diethylamide (more commonly known as LSD) – the 1960s were a time of enormous change across the U.S. and the rest of the world.

In New York, in the early hours of Saturday morning on June 28, 1969, the NYPD police raided a Greenwich Village bar – known as the Stonewall Inn and a renowned place to hang out for the city’s underground gay community.

Tired of constant police intimidation, discrimination, and harassment, gay community members finally fought back, beginning what would become known worldwide as the “Stonewall Riots” – 6 days of gay protests against the city’s police department.

One year later, on June 27, 1970, the first Gay Pride March was held on Christopher Street in New York. The march extended for 15 blocks, according to the New York Times, to inspire other major U.S. cities to form their Pride organizations.

June 23, 1973, undoubtedly saw one of the first major successes of the Pride movement – removing homosexuality from the official list of mental illnesses. The American Psychiatric Association, responsible for the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual, every U.S. physician’s go-to diagnostic medical reference, deleted the so-called disorder from DSM-ll (the manual’s second edition).

On October 13, 1979, the 10th anniversary of Stonewall and nearly a year after the assassination of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office, the Pride movement, now in its thousands and thousands, held its first National March on Washington as a protest for Lesbian and Gay Rights. 

Since the days of Stonewall, Christopher Street, and the birth of Gay Pride, the Pride movement has grown throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Now, the global LGBTQ+ community numbers millions upon millions.

Phoenix pride, Arizona

Here in Arizona, Phoenix Pride, founded in 1981 and the Pride movement’s non-profit organizers for the city and beyond, is hosting a wide range of events in both June and October of this year, including:

Phoenix pride events

Phoenix Pride Festival 2023
(Community festival) 
Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix, AZ 
Sunday, June 12
Get tickets here

3rd Annual Phoenix Latino Pride Festival 

(Community festival)
Boycott Bar, Phoenix, AZ 
Saturday, September 16
Get tickets here

Bingo Nights 
(Social festival)
Boycott Bar, Phoenix, AZ 
Tuesday, August 15

Entry is free

The health consequences of LGBTQ+ discrimination

The LGBTQ+ community has suffered untold discrimination, prejudice, and maltreatment for years. Since the inception of the Pride movement in New York in 1969, the fight for the fundamental rights enjoyed by the rest of America has continued.

This year, the LGBTQ+ community faces nearly 200 proposed state bills that seek to erode and even destroy the legal protections for transgender and gay youth and restrict the discussion of LGBTQ topics in public schools.

One U.S. Democrat, Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani, said recently, “These painful state-level fights are proof positive that discrimination is still a real threat that directly harms members of our most vulnerable communities, including especially young people who are transgender.”

LGBTQ+ discrimination increases mental health & substance risks

The President and CEO of Mental Health America, Schroeder Stribling, recently wrote, “Inequity harms mental health. While being LGBTQ+ is NOT a mental health condition or concern, LGBTQ+ individuals experience mental health struggles at higher rates than their straight and cisgender peers.”

“Mental health challenges among the LGBTQ+ community are primarily due to individuals facing stigma, discrimination, and bias in many forms.”

Numerous analytical research studies in the U.S. and elsewhere confirm Stribling’s deep concern. 

These studies have found that LGBTQ+ people are twice as likely as non-LGBTQ+ people to have a mental health condition and continue to show disparities in mental health, even though they are more likely to use mental health services.

Additionally, LGBTQ+ youth are at least two times more likely to use substances than youth who identify as heterosexual. 

Furthermore, sexual minority youth are also at increased risk of using multiple substances – known as “polysubstance use” or, more commonly, “poly use”), which can seriously exacerbate the harms of drug use, e.g., the risk of an overdose, either fatal or non-fatal.

The cumulative health effects of LGBTQ+ discrimination

  • 56% of LGBTQ+ individuals who took a Mental Health America (MHA) depression screen in 2021 reported having suicidal thoughts more than half or nearly every day of the previous two weeks – nearly 7% higher than the reported rate in 2019.
  • The Trevor Project has found that 73% of LGBTQ+ youth report experiencing anxiety symptoms, 58% report symptoms of depression, and 45% report seriously considering attempting suicide in the past year. 
  • According to the U.S. Transgender Survey, 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide during their lifetime, compared to less than 5% of the general U.S. population. 

It’s important to note that mental health and substance use disorders are linked. Adolescents and young adults who suffer from one are more likely than not to experience the other. Around 60-75% of adolescents with a mental health disorder have a co-occurring substance use disorder.

The difficulties facing the parents of LGBTQ+ children

Being the parent, guardian, or caregiver of an LGBTQ+ child or adolescent can be challenging, with many unique issues to resolve. Fortunately, many support organizations, programs, and groups exist in the U.S. that can help LGBTQ+ children and other family members – including parents. 

Parental support for those with an LGBTQ+ child: Resources

Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG)PFLAG is the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their familiesComplete the online contact form or call 202-467-8180
Family Acceptance Project (FAP)An ongoing academic study run by San Francisco State University into how families respond to their LGBTQ+ child or adolescent, and how these reactions contribute to the health and development of LGBTQ+ young peopleContact by email at fap@sfsu.edu or call 415-522-5558
Child Welfare Information Gateway (CWIG)A professional LGBTQ+ resource service provided by the Children’s Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)Contact by email at info@childwelfare.gov. or call 800-394-3366
National Network of LGBTQ Family GroupsFamily Equality’s national network for supporting and coordinating all of the LGBTQ+ family groups in the U.S.Complete the online contact form or call 646-880-3005

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