June is Pride Month and as I wasn’t able to attend my local pride event I figured that a post about the topic might be better than nothing.
As I’ve been in a relationship with a man for a long time now, people often assume that I must be straight – just as they assumed I was lesbian when I dated a woman. I am tired of explaining the term “pansexual” constantly so what I do most times is just dropping a sentence like “Oh, my ex used to do that! She…” casually – and then enjoy the confused faces.
Anyway, a few days ago someone asked me about the term “Gay Pride” – he wanted to know how one can be proud of their sexuality when it’s something you don’t achieve but just…have. First of all I want to acknowledge that this is a very nice thought – especially coming from a cis-male heterosexual person. More often than not people still think that sexuality is something that we can choose, that we do for attention or in order to be different. So just for the record: Love just happens and there isn’t much you can do about it. I’m not proud of being bi- or pansexual, just like I’m not proud of the colour of my skin or the shape of my nose.
However, there is something to be proud of and that is the LGBT+ community. I am damn proud of all the gay sons who hold their heads high in spite of parents who take them to psychiatrists due to their sexual orientation. I am proud of all the trans kids who shine although they dread looking in the mirror. I’m proud of all the lesbian couples who just ignore men who objectify them every single day. I’m proud of all bisexuals who are sure that they are not just indecisive but simply able to love anyone. And I’m also proud of all the people who identify as genderfluid, asexual, demisexual or agender and have to explain what these terms mean constantly.
Long story short: I am proud of a community that won’t give up until we’re all truly equal before the law – and society as a whole.
Now, this is a mental health blog and perhaps you want to know what all this pride has to do with, let’s say depression. Well here it comes:
My own Coming Out was about the toughest time of my life. I just couldn’t figure out what label to identify with, I felt confused about my very identity (which actually is a very borderline thing to say) and above all I felt very, very lonely. There were resources in my town but I was too anxious to use them and for a long time I felt like I could never truly know what to make of it. I was depressed. I loved all the gay people I knew but still hated myself. I thought I was being stupid for not knowing if this was “bi” or “straight” or “homo” or “pan”.
But that’s just me. And I’m a very small part of this world. Let’s see some facts about queer people in general:
- Queer teens are up to four times as likely to take their own lives compared to their straight counterparts. They’re also more prone to depression, anxiety and self-harm.
- A vast number of LGBT+ persons have experienced mental health problems in their lives.
- The numbers of hate crimes against trans persons in the USA are rising.
- Homosexuality is a punishable crime in 68 countries; in seven of them capital punishment is possible.
I am glad to live in a country where there are good laws to protect us. But still, we don’t have equal rights and above all we don’t have acceptance. There is much talk about tolerance but I don’t want people to just tolerate anything – I want them to truly accept that not all of us are white, heterosexual, cisgender catholic people. I don’t want any kid’s mental health to decline due to doubt and hate and wrong information. Our existence is not a threat and never has been. Love can never be a bad thing. As long as falling in love can be a political act in itself we need our love to be even brighter and shinier and louder. We need it to be visible and diverse and beautiful. I truly believe we need all these brave unicorns and penguins and dolphins out there who don’t let anyone tell them their love is wrong. And if we manage to love ourselves we might also manage to minimize queer mental health problems.
Happy Pride Month!