This June, many of us took to streets, parks and other crowded venues to show the world the best parts of ourselves. We marched, cheered, and rejoiced in the power, joy, and love we hold as LGBTQIA people. During pride month, we have a rare opportunity for one whole nationally recognized month of the year to feel pride in the positive aspects associated with living life as an LGBTQIA-identified person.
Pride Month and Negative Emotions
In a world where transphobia, racism, and economic injustice continue to plague many LGBTQIA community members, negative emotions like fear, isolation, anger and rage are commonplace. Is there room in Pride Month to wear honestly and openly the pain and difficulty associated with living life as an LGBTQIA-identified person? After all, a significant part of what unites this diverse and complex community is the experience of marginalization.
The negative emotions and experiences that come with being LGBTQIA-identified are difficult to acknowledge and talk about. They might feel especially awkward or out of place in times of great celebration, like Pride Month. However, these emotions and experiences are nearly inescapable parts of what it means to be LGBTQIA in the world today.
We are rarely, if ever, invited to honestly and openly share the challenges that come with being LGBTQIA-identified. In our inner worlds, negativity is ostracized from public display. Shunned from conversation, we bury stigmatized feelings tied to our stigmatized identities, along with their potential to catalyze desired personal and social change.
Further isolating the stigmatized is a hard human habit to shake. We are trained to marginalize stigmatized emotions and identities that threaten the status quo. But as a status quo transgressing group of individuals, can our version of pride include the negative?
Embracing Negative Emotions
Pride Month gives us a unique opportunity to reflect on where marginalization is occurring both inside and outside ourselves, and voice to those ostracized perspectives. Embracing negative feelings in this way requires embracing the radical orientation that we benefit from including rather than excluding more of ourselves.
We can heal and grow from the marginalization that comes with being LGBTQIA-identified. It begins with acknowledging that which has been cast aside. This radical act brings release, growth, and greater intimacy with ourselves and communities. Talking openly and honestly about the pain we carry may be one of the proudest ways we can show we have no shame in being who we are.
Celebrating ourselves and de-stigmatizing the desire to heal and grow was our goal for Pride 2015. As this momentous National Pride Month comes to a close, we wish to continue celebrating by treasuring not just the positive, but entire spectrum of our complex and diverse experiences. We invite you to celebrate with us.
Read about how IntraSpectrum Counseling engaged the local community to fight mental health stigmatization for Pride 2015. ISC captured dozens of community members’ opinions of what #TherapyCanBe.
Mx. Iggy V Ladden is a therapist and social worker in Chicago. They specialize in supporting LGBTQ individuals, couples, and groups working to resolve anxiety, depression, trauma, and relational issues. Prior to joining IntraSpectrum, Iggy worked at Chicago House’s TransLife Center as the program’s therapist and TransSafe project coordinator. Iggy is a graduate of the University of Chicago’s school of Social Service Administration.
Dr. Ian Bonner is a staff psychologist at IntraSpectrum Counseling. He specializes in working with the LGBTQ population, addiction, couples counseling, and mood disorders. Ian is a graduate of the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, and is the former case management coordinator for the Horizon Youth Program at the Center on Halsted.