Mental Health in the Black LGBTQ+ Community
When reflecting upon today’s protests against police brutality, we cannot forget that the first pride was a riot against the very same thing. From June 28 to July 3, 1969, led by black trans woman Marsha P. Johnson, LGBTQ+ people rose up to fight against the corrupt police who were unjustly persecuting them. This was the spark that began pride and the gay rights movement. Black LGBTQ+ people have been at the forefront of achieving equality for the LGBTQ+ community, however, they are disproportionately at risk for mental health issues.
Black members of the LGBTQ+ community are at the intersection of racism and homophobia. This can intensify discrimination, and in turn have a very negative impact on mental health. Negative media portrayals, racism and homophobia from elected officials, and the systemic oppression of black and LGBTQ+ people in our society can all negatively impact their mental health. On top of this outside discrimination, some black LGBTQ+ people face prejudice from home. In a survey done by the Black and African American Youth Report, 77% of respondents said they have heard family members say negative things about LGBTQ+ people. For black queer people, there is also a lack of good resources to find help. In another survey by the Black and African American Youth Report, only one in ten respondents said they’d feel comfortable reaching out to a counselor. The same study also found that overall 80% of black LGBTQ+ people feel depressed or down, 71% feel worthless or hopeless, 80% feel worried or nervous, 46% feel critical of being LGBTQ+, and 90% have experienced racial discrimination, while only 36% have received any form of counseling in the past year.
So what can be done to help combat these problems?
Highlighting the stories of black LGBTQ+ people and increasing representation can help to combat stigma while also helping black LGBTQ+ people not feel so alone.
Vote for governmental officials that support black LGBTQ+ rights!
Spread awareness about the struggles black LGBTQ+ people face, and advocate for causes that help to combat them.
If you are a black LGBTQ+ person, try finding a trusted friend or adult to talk to. If you are an ally, be there for your black LGBTQ+ friends if they ask you for help.
Advocate for counselors to make their practices accessible, helpful, and inclusive of black LGBTQ+ people.