10 Inspiring Self-Love Quotes from LGBTQ Icons

Stonewall Inn in New York

When trans women of color led the way in the Stonewall Riots of 1969, Pride was born. It was a movement against police harassment and to claim space for a marginalized community. By fighting back, members of New York City’s queer community signaled they would not be pushed into the shadows anymore.

The Stonewall Riots are part of a decades-long campaign for LGBTQ visibility, inspired by the belief that accepting and celebrating ourselves and our community — even when society won’t accept or celebrate us — is a radical act. The courage to come out transformed LGBTQ people’s status in society, and in the face of continued discrimination, it remains a powerful weapon to guard one of our most powerful resources: our mental health.

Continue reading 10 Inspiring Self-Love Quotes from LGBTQ Icons

6 Ways to Support the Mental Health of Your LGBTQ Loved Ones

People marching in gay pride parade with rainbow flags

As rainbow streamers fill the air and LGBTQ representation fills the streets, June is a time to celebrate LGBTQ identity and the contributions of the queer movement. Pride is a joyful time for the LGBTQ community and allies alike. It’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to creating a more equal world. That’s why this Pride, we invite allies and supporters of the LGBTQ community — which should be everyone! — to show up for the mental health and wellbeing of their LGBTQ loved ones and the community at large.

Continue reading 6 Ways to Support the Mental Health of Your LGBTQ Loved Ones

Jack’s Story: My Identity In the Wake of Male Sexual Violence

Man looking forlorn

I was staying at my parents house for a summer internship before my senior year of college. It was an especially hot summer in LA, and I remember when I woke up that morning I couldn’t tell if what I was experiencing was a fever or if I had just forgotten what a real SoCal summer felt like. I remember sitting down on the toilet, looking between my legs and seeing blood. I remember thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

After one visit to my family doctor and then another to a specialist, I learned the man I had slept with the night before had left me with not one, but two treasures to remember him by: internal hemorrhoids with abrasions (the blood) and herpes (the fever). When I called to tell him, he didn’t answer. When I went to find him on the gay hook-up app where I had met him, his profile had disappeared. When I Googled his name and the hospital where he purported to work as a physician, I found nothing.

That’s the man who raped me. I don’t remember the name he gave me and I’m almost certain it was a lie, so let’s call him John R. Smith. The “R” stands for rapist.

Continue reading Jack’s Story: My Identity In the Wake of Male Sexual Violence

Holidays and Mental Health: My Family After One Year of Trump

family arguing thanksgiving wine glasses

The majority of us acknowledge the world’s precarious state. In fact, according the APA, a survey of 3,440 Americans found that 63% feel the “future of the nation” is a very or somewhat significant stressor in their lives.

Election Night 2016 was an intense and polarizing event for the vast majority of Americans. Last year many people saw their holidays soured by the state of the world and their fears for the future. Others were frustrated with their families for not giving then President-elect Trump a fair chance to prove himself and provide for the country. Most were simply exhausted from the politics of the past couple years, hoping for a reprieve from the constant arguments.

The political climate rapidly tore my own family apart. My mom has always been pretty socially liberal and compassionate — and raised me accordingly. Social issue voters seemed to have a clear option: Hillary Clinton, who I support wholeheartedly to this day. My mom, however, voted for Trump. Continue reading Holidays and Mental Health: My Family After One Year of Trump

A Guide to College Mental Health for LGBTQ Students

LGBTQ college student yellow shirt red backpack

Beginning your first year of college can inspire several emotions. From the first day of classes to finding your place in a sea of new faces, entering a university can be extremely exciting or exceptionally stressful. This can be an even more difficult transition when you are entering college as someone who openly identifies as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) and needs support navigating your academic journey.

Whether it’s finding the right academic club or LGBTQ+ resource that can aid in the transition from high school, being LGBTQ+ and new on a college campus can be fraught with troubles. For some students, the first question that comes to mind might be how inviting the college campus is or how truly accessible these LGBTQ+ resources are. This concern often leads to conversations around the need for queer students to be informed of what programs and services their campus offers when speaking specifically about mental health and wellness. Continue reading A Guide to College Mental Health for LGBTQ Students

Transgender Mental Health Issues: The Challenges of a Binary World

trans rights sign male activist rally

Adam was assigned a female gender at birth, but from an early age he did not feel comfortable identifying as female. Like many transgender people who struggle with mental health issues, the pressure of society’s gender norms caused stress and confusion.

Coming out as transgender is a challenge for anyone, but it was especially difficult for Adam. He grew up in a small, close knit town with one high school. His uncle was also his landlord, an example of how his environment could be suffocating at times.

At the age of 15, Adam came out as transgender and began identifying as a man. With the exception of his father, no one in his family or community supported him. Peers mercilessly bullied and ridiculed him until he dropped out of high school. Then the final blow hit: Because of his decision, his uncle, the landlord, refused to provide him a residence. Continue reading Transgender Mental Health Issues: The Challenges of a Binary World

Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with John Duran

John Duran head shot quote

Mental Health Month may be over, but we are still dedicated to empowering individuals to “light their way” to better mental health, happiness, and improved well-being. As part of this commitment, we are continuing to profile “Mental Health Warriors,” or individuals who have been outspoken in their advocacy and support for mental health issues. This week, we caught up with West Hollywood city councilor, human rights lawyer, and LGBTQ activist, John Duran.

Talkspace: How did you first get involved in advocating for equal rights and mental health?

John Duran: I first got involved in June of 1985, when a close friend of mine named Scott Fleener died very suddenly of HIV related pneumonia. I hadn’t been very politically involved up to that point. I couldn’t tell you who my member of Congress was or how he or she voted on issues regarding equal rights or mental health. His unexpected death at 26 years of age rocked my world. Continue reading Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with John Duran

Addressing the Clash Between Generations of LGBTQ Activists

lgbtq activist pride parade make america gay again flag

To start a discussion on LGBTQ activism and mental health during Pride Week, we asked two LGBTQ activists of different generations to meet and discuss their views, experiences, and perspectives. Michael Noker, a millennial who has written about LGBTQ issues, interviewed Patrick Cleary, a long-time LGBTQ activist who fought for gay rights during the AIDS epidemic and beyond. The two discuss the grief and mental health implications of losing a generation as well as the critical need for activism.

Noker: What would you say was the most monumental moment for the LGBTQ movement in your lifetime?

Cleary: There are a few, so forgive me for not picking only one. The 1987 FDA approval of AZT, a drug for treating HIV/AIDS is the most monumental thing I can think of as a gay man, because it meant that my friends stopped dying so often.

Ronald Reagan hadn’t even said the word “AIDS” until the year before. The honest opinion of most of the country was that AIDS was something that should burn itself out. It only affected gay guys and drug addicts, and we weren’t worth the trouble. Continue reading Addressing the Clash Between Generations of LGBTQ Activists

What Does LGBTQ Pride Mean to You?

stonewall inn memorial LGBT pride

Every June, communities across the world celebrate Pride, also known as “Gay Pride” or “LGBTQ Pride.” For many it’s a celebration of identity, representing freedom of expression and freedom from social oppression. For others Pride represents a time in which they can watch from afar those who have been able to live their lives in an “out and proud” way. For people not in the LGBTQ communities, the month’s events may represent something different.

Pride began as a movement to solidify the rights and existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-1960s — in which Black communities fought for the same legal and civil rights of their white counterparts — spawned its creation.

There are differing stories as to how Pride actually began, yet people commonly think it originated in New York City. Like other activist movements, the modern gay liberation or civil rights movement included violent interactions with police. Most people think of the Stonewall Rebellion (also referred to as riots) as the catalyst for the modern march for civil rights for LGBTQ folks. Continue reading What Does LGBTQ Pride Mean to You?

The History of LGBTQ Conversion Therapy

gay man rainbow paint couch therapist

In 1965, TIME magazine published an article titled “Homosexuals Can Be Cured.” The article focused on the “triumphant” results of group therapy work led by psychiatrist Samuel Hadden, who was also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School at the time. Hadden had been leading long-term (four to eight year) therapy sessions for men who identified as homosexual in the hopes of “curing” them of their sexual “perversions.”

TIME’s article celebrated Hadden’s ability to help men work through their “symptoms” of “illness”—whether that was wearing inappropriately feminine clothing or being sexually interested in men instead of women. Hadden was only one of many esteemed psychiatrists and psychologists to consider — and treat — homosexuality as a sickness during the 1960s. In fact, homosexuality was not removed from the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” [DSM] until 1973.

The pathologizing of homosexuality was not, however, contextually specific to 20th century America. Many of the earliest writings condemning homosexual acts as “unnatural” caught on in 12th century Europe, when religious leaders like Saint Thomas Aquinas denounced homosexuality as a sin in their early writings. Popular disdain against homosexuality, began in the realm of religion, but it quickly moved into the legal arena in centuries to come. Continue reading The History of LGBTQ Conversion Therapy