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Celebrating Pride Month Q&A

1. What is pride month, and why is it important?

2. What are some terms and definitions to know?

3. How does mental health factor in?

4. What are good ways for someone to be an ally? 

5. What are some resources for the LGBTQ+ community?

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Kate Valente MS, LPC

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Kate Valente MS, LPC

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Video Transcript

Laurie: Hi, my name is Laurie Groh and I'm co-owner at Shoreside Therapies. Today we're here with Kate Valente. Got it right, Kate!

Kate: Got it right this time, yep!

Laurie: So thank you so much, Kate, for being here today. We are talking about Pride month today so we can go ahead and get started, but thank you so much for coming.

Kate: Yeah, of course, thank you for doing this with me today. I love working with the LGBTQ+ community. I am part of that community too, so I feel really really close to a lot of these like resources and things. So I'm glad that we can kind of get this out today and just help people get a better understanding of, like, how it relates to mental health, and I have a list of resources as well, so I'm excited to talk about it.

Laurie: Good, good, thank you, so, pretty straightforward. First question: what is Pride Month and why is it important?

Kate: Yeah, so Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June and so originally just to not get into too much history. But in 1969 there was a very, very popular gay bar in New York City, in Manhattan, called the Stonewall Inn. At this time homosexuality was still a criminal offense, and so this bar was raided by police, which resulted in a lot of arrests and violence, and this led to kind of a big uprising and a bunch of riots and things that took place over, I believe it was like six or seven days, and so this really really started a big movement with LGBTQ+ rights, and so then the first Pride march happened in 1970 on the anniversary of those riots, and so it started with a march. Now we have a whole month, which is really awesome. There are parades, there are lots of celebrations in Milwaukee this past weekend was Pridefest all weekend, so lots of big celebrations, and it's really important because I think this month really brings a lot of awareness to just how far we've come, but also how far we have to go still. And it's really important because it also helps honor all of the people that kind of paved the way for a lot of the rights that we have today and it's really just a celebration of progress and achievements within that community, especially because people are still really really made to feel 'less than' by mainstream culture, within health care, I mean, there are a lot of different environments in which people within the LGBTQ plus community still don't feel welcome, and so June is really the the time that it's it's celebrated and welcomed and people get to really just be their authentic selves.

Laurie: You're right, though. There's been right so much that's changed since 1969, so much more that we want to do. I can even just think of just shortly wanting to mention too, one of my good friends was wanting to be a teacher and had to not disclose that. And that wasn't that long ago. It seems so strange to think about that time that was maybe 20 years ago. And that's not too long ago. So, yeah, it's definitely important to celebrate and honor and embrace everyone yourselves, and yeah, so I'm very excited to focus in on that today.

Kate: Yeah, yeah, for sure.

Laurie: So thinking about this next question here. Let's pop it up. Hopefully I can get it to work. So what are some terms and definitions to know. I think this is a big one that comes up for people.

Kate: Yeah, especially, if you're not super familiar with that community, if maybe you know somebody who recently came out and you're trying to learn more, or maybe you have a child that's starting to question and you just want to learn, and so I have a couple of things that I think are kind of basics that are just really important to know when we talk about this topic. I think it's first and foremost really important to differentiate between sexuality and sexual orientation and gender. A lot of the time people lump those together and they are different, and so sexual orientation is really just the inherent attraction that you feel towards another person. And so that's kind of where this, where these labels of of sexual orientation come into play. So lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer is kind of an umbrella term now too, where all of those kind of can fall under that. If that's what you feel comfortable identifying with and labels can be fluid, labels can change as well, and then there's gender. Gender is more of the inner concept of self, and that is if you feel that you identify as a male or female or a blend of both or neither. Gender identity can be different than what your sex is assigned at birth, and so I think that's really important for people to understand too, that gender identity can kind of evolve throughout the lifetime, and so within that umbrella then falls transgender individuals. So that is, you know, when you don't identify with your sex assigned at birth. So that involves sometimes transitioning between like male and female or female to male. But that also includes people that identify as non-binary, which means that you don't really identify with any gender. And then there are also terms like gender queer or gender fluid, which means that it kind of changes. So maybe one day you feel more feminine, another day you feel more masculine, and so you kind of tend to be like, maybe a little more androgynous. You can go back and forth, and so I think that's important to kind of be able to differentiate those, because people tend to kind of lump them all together, and so as far as like the the sexual orientation labels, you know that's very, very personal to people that can change. Personally, I don't feel like labels are that important, but they are to some. They can be really empowering to some, really hurtful to others, but I think the most important thing is just differentiating between sexuality and gender. I think it's kind of a good place to start.

Laurie: Yeah, yeah, I think, having that distinction, I think you're right that that can sometimes get lumped altogether and could potentially be confusing, and so I think that clarity helps and also just acknowledging that that might not be, like you said, a label might not be something that somebody even wants

Kate: Right right, so I think, allowing people to have the freedom to tell you what their label is instead of, I think it's really easy to want to know someone's label and to, I think, just decidedly. We want to be able to put people in boxes because that's what we understand. But I think the best thing that you can do for someone is to let them tell you what their preferred label is or if they don't like a label, and you know their comfortability is more important than your ability to understand. Right. It's kind of our job to just be there for other people and understand what they're telling us.

Laurie: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that idea of what makes us comfortable putting labels and you know, maybe patterns and figuring that out sometimes. But really it's that other person that we're trying to understand and not necessarily trying to put somebody in a box in general. All right, so next question: so how does mental health factor in?

Kate: Yeah, so this is, I love this topic. As a therapist, obviously, also working with a lot of LGBTQ+ youth, I have personally experienced a lot of connections. I do have some notes, so I have statistics that I would like to share. Most of these, I think I have six kind of points that I would love to make, and most of these came from either the Trevor Project or the human-rights campaign. So for all of you that are watching this, I will give all of the links to Laurie, she can post them too, so that you guys have all of those resources. But I think the most important statistic to know is that 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year and that they're four times more likely to attempt suicide than their appears. So that is that's a huge, huge, huge percentage. And then, on top of that, if they, the LGBTQ+ youth that are experiencing suicidal ideation, have families that support them, that those numbers drop by 50% so that really goes to show the importance of having a support system and what that impact can be on someone's mental health, especially kids and teens who are really kind of discovering who they are.

Laurie: Yea and vulnerable really at that age.

Kate: Yes. The next thing that I think is really important to know is that those who identify as LGBTQ plus have 120% higher risk of experiencing some form of homelessness, so that also is kind of a huge part of mental health as well.

Laurie: Wow! I was not aware of that.

Kate: Yes, and within that, so over 40% of homeless youth in the US are part of the LGBTQ plus community, and I think that I mean there's a lot of reasons for that. But a lot of that is just family rejection, just not being safe in the home, things like that. So that's also why that access to like mental health care is so important

Laurie: Yes, and I think that too right, like having that awareness of that number. I was not aware of that. That's a huge amount, and you know how tragic and devastating, for somebody to be in a position where they can't get help or services that they need.

Kate: Right, so yeah, and that kind of leads into like the next point that I have, which is that 48% of LGBTQ+ youth reported that they wanted counseling from a mental health professional but were unable to receive it within the last year, and so it's not. You know, it's not just that there, you know, isn't that support, but they're just unable to access that. So I think that's why it's so important too, to look at mental health in a systemic aspect. And how are we kind of able to get help to these kids who very clearly want the help.

Laurie: Right.

Kate: So just kind of that inability to receive the care that they want is a huge factor in again those like higher suicide rates and things like that. So let me see the next one, so kind of same thing, leading into kind of this mental health idea according to the Trevor Project, which again is a resource that I love. They did a national survey in 2021 and 72% of LGBTQ plus youth reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and 63% of LGBTQ plus youth reported symptoms of major depressive disorder. So that just kind of goes to show like how widespread anxiety and depression is within that community and then again just how important that access is to help and just health care in general. Because my last fact is that 75% of LGBTQ+ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime. So I mean 75% is huge. And bullying and discrimination at younger ages can be so traumatic and long-lasting and then when that's happening, combined with not having access to the help that they need, that just really results in some really dangerous situations. So just kind of helping people understand how important it is to not just accept people but also help them kind of have access to care as well.

Laurie: Right, right! That piece of everybody deserves to have mental services. You know, I mean we could do a whole thing just on that, but here's not access right, yeah,

Kate: Right, and lot, and a lot of that too. Is, you know, family rejection or thinking like it's a phase. They'll grow out of it, you know, and all of that just leads to again these increased rates of depression and suicide and all of these things. So it's just it's so so so important for these kids and teens and even young adults. I mean this isn't just, I mostly work with with kids and teens, so I kind of pulled these like youth facts, but I mean there are percentages that are very, very similar within the adult community as well.

Laurie: And just having that connection piece too right, you know, unfortunately, if there's the family that's not supportive or the community that's not supportive, then that can cause a lot of issues. It can just cause somebody to feel not valuable. What does that do for somebody's well-being?

Kate: Right, yeah, and so I mean that's again kind of going back to why Pride Month is so special and important. You know, I was at the Pride parade this last month and there were so many kids and teenagers that just seemed so proud to be there and just felt like they fit in and that they belonged. And so having those, those options and those events, just for them to kind of connect to each other and be able to be who they are if they can't maybe do that at home, really really is important.

Laurie: Right.

Kate: Yeah!

Laurie: All right, what are good ways for someone to be an ally?

Kate: I also love this question because I think it's really hard when you maybe don't know anybody within that community, or maybe you know someone that recently came out. I get a lot of questions about. You know, how do I? How can I help? How can I be supportive if I'm not part of that community? If I don't I can't really relate. But I want to support the people in my life. So I think number one is really just asking about people's lived experiences, just listening and validating. I think a lot of people maybe assume they know what things would be like if they were in that position. And I think a lot of people would also be surprised at what that experience could be like. And one experience is not everybody's experience right. So really just kind of just asking like, what has your experience been like? Do you do you feel that I could do anything else to support you? So really listening, validating being supportive, a lot of people within this community don't have support. You may have heard the phrase like chosen family, that gets thrown around a lot within this community because sometimes if if you don't have blood family that's supportive or you don't have, a support system you kind of make your own family with other people. And so that's kind of where this, this concept of chosen family comes from. So really just being there and being supportive is number one. I think that the next important thing is really just standing up for people that maybe don't have a voice, so that can include, you know, calling out homophobia if you see it right, if you make a joke, saying like you know, hey, that's not really funny joke to make that can be hurtful. Or if you hear people using terms incorrectly, you know using the wrong pronouns for someone, just nicely correcting them and taking that time to maybe allow that to be a teaching moment as well. And so that's why it's important also to educate yourself so that you can help kind of spread that and educate others and then also going along with standing up for people in that community. I think it's also really important to educate yourself on what's going on in the world, voting in a way that helps protect rights off of people within that community and just really really being able to stand-up for people that don't always have that voice. It's such a marginalized group still really, unfortunately, because it is a really large group of people in the world and in the country, but it's still there's still so much discrimination. So really any support in any form is helpful.

Laurie: Yes, it sounds like some ways would be listening, asking questions, being there for someone and then standing up when something's not right or there's bullying or there's you know, a joke that's that's directed in a negative way and then going out and voting for the things that help individuals in the community. I think that makes a ton of sense.

Kate: Yeah, there's there's I mean, a lot of things that are on the table with. You know, politics and all of that stuff and you don't have to get into that. But there's there's a lot of a lot of laws in place and a lot of laws even like being enacted now that that strips away a lot of those rights. So just being educated on how you can support that community and continue to help give them the rights that everybody else has.

Laurie: Yeah! So last question: what are some resources for the LGBTQ+ community?

Kate: Yeah, so again I will get all of these resources to you Laurie so you can post them as well. I think in general, some really good resources, like I said, the Trevor Project and all of these you can google as well. That's really really good one. They have a lot of statistics, a lot of resources, same with the Human Rights campaign. You can go on their website. They have a lot of really good articles as well. The GSA network, which is the Gay Straight Alliance, a lot of high schools have like a club, which I think is really cool. So that's kind of spreading. But that website also has a lot of really good resources and Glaad, Glaad.org also has a ton of resource for like different ages as well. So they have it broken up into like resources for youth and for adults and veterans and things like that. And then within Milwaukee there is the Milwaukee LGBTQ+ Community Center. That's a big one. They have counseling. They have LGBTQ+ support groups, which I think is one of the only places that really does groups like that. Within that they also have something called Courage Milwaukee, which is another group. There is Diverse and Resilient Milwaukee, which is another group. These all have individual websites that I can get to you, and then Pathfinders Milwaukee also. They work really closely with kids and teams, so definitely some resources kind of in general and then resources for Milwaukee, if you're in this area. So I will get all of those to Laurie so that you guys can access those links if you need to.

Laurie: Yeah, and I will put those all in the comments so that you can look at those resources, and then, when we post our video on our website, we'll have a link, those links as well, for everybody.

Kate: Perfect!

Laurie: Thanks Kate, so much for taking the time to day.

Kate: Yeah!

Laurie: Yeah, yeah, and we'll talk soon.

Kate: Yeah, perfect. Thank you so much.

Laurie: All right.

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