As the new Manager of Public Policy, I am excited to start our conversation about how local and national policies impact your life and the lives of those you love. Each month, I will post relevant policy information and resources, and I encourage you to participate in the conversation with me. What do you want to know? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week we celebrated LGBT Health Awareness Week with our partners at National Coalition for LGBT Health. This week we celebrate National Public Health Week. Together, along with other coalition partners, we continue to facilitate a national conversation about LGBT Health. What is LGBT health? What makes our health different? When we talk about LGBT Health Awareness, I want us to remember how all the identities that make up who we are impact our health and how we engage with health care systems.
PROMO and the ACLU of Missouri hosted a rally in Jefferson City in opposition of SJR 39 last week. The energy was powerful. The speakers were riveting. And, the people showed up from all across the state. Throughout the years, I have attended events at the Capital, and there is definitely something magical about intentional spaces to influence change. And, yesterday was not any different….and yet, it was. Trying to help people understand that our love isn’t any different than theirs, defending our families, defending our relationships; it takes an emotional toll on us. We can’t help but internalize the words people say about us. These internalized emotions manifest in ways that maybe you didn’t even know. There is a high correlation between discriminatory laws, and the direct impact on our mental health. Members of the LGBT community face higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation and attempts when compared to their heterosexual peers.
The anti-LGBT laws enacted and being introduced across the state and country are taking a toll on LGBT people. Personally, I have felt these attacks play out in my own mental health. It took me years to realize that just because I was different than most of the people in my family that I was ok. I was enough. Not being heterosexual did not make me a bad person. Not being more “lady like” did not make me less of a woman. These laws meant to keep us down, to further oppress our sisters and brothers, do not define us. We define us.
If you or someone you know is feeling the effects on your own mental health there are resources and people to help you. One of my favorite go to resources is Behavioral Health Response. You can call 314-469-6644: 800-811-4760: TTY: 314-469-3638, and a trained mental health professional will answer the phone 24 hours a day. They can offer you someone to speak with immediately, and they can help connect you to a local mental health professional to make a follow up appointment. Here is another resource for additional LGBTQ support. If you want more information about LGBTQ affirming mental health providers, please email me at email@example.com.
One of the greatest moments of my life was when I accepted this role at PROMO. I get to work with my people in a state I love doing work I am passionate about, and it’s personal. Serving my LGBTQIIAA family is a privilege, and one I hold in the highest regard. In this role, I will fight for you and with you. I will be your voice when you are too tired. When you don’t feel like you are able to stand up for yourself, your spouse or partner, your child. Together with PROMO, we will be there.
Here’s the take away….Hate does not define us. Never has. NEVER will.
YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE ENOUGH.