NEWS

What Queer Individuals with Marginalized Identities Hope You Recall After Pride

many different queer people

Verywell / Zoe Hansen

Key Takeaways

  • June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a time to celebrate queer folks and all that they've accomplished.
  • In addition to being queer, many individuals also encompass other identities that may not be as affirmed in all Pride spaces.
  • Pride provides an opportunity for individuals to learn more about how queer community members may be marginalized in other ways, such as race, disability, religion, etc.

While all queer people deal with the pressures of heteronormativity, there are other challenges that may only affect some members of the LGBTQ+ community. Individuals who are also BIPOC, have larger bodies, are disabled, etc, have an experience of pride and queerness that isn't as vibrantly displayed under the rainbow banners.

Gallup's most recent research estimates that 5.6% of American adults identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, of which, many individuals may also experience marginalization based on other aspects of identity.

Although June is a time of LGBTQ+ Pride unity for many, that is not the case for all who identify as queer, so it can help to understand how to better welcome individuals who may also be oppressed in additional ways.

Intersectional LGBTQ+ Experiences

There's no denying that members of the LGBTQ+ community are treated far better now compared to several decades ago, but it's easy to become complacent when so much work remains to be done.

A 2013 study found that LGBTQ+ students reported worse depressive symptoms, higher stress, lower self-esteem, etc. so it is understandable that multiple experiences of marginalization may increase related challenges.

Whether LGBTQ+ individuals are also oppressed in terms of race, ability, religion, immigration status, class, sizeism, or another aspect of their identity, these identities can make it harder for them to find community during Pride.

An Autistic Jewish Lesbian Writer's Experience

Lara Boyle, an autistic, Jewish lesbian and freelance writer, based in Charlotte, NC, says, "I wish we could make Pride spaces more accessible! Due to sensory overload and tic attacks, I can’t handle bars or parades."

Since she does not drink alcohol, Boyle notes how she would appreciate inclusive alternatives like book club or coffee shop events. "I want to celebrate all of my identities but usually I just feel left out," she says.

Boyle explains that she often feels as if she has to choose among her identities. "I hope we can come together as a community so everyone can feel like they belong without changing who they are," she says.

Lara Boyle

I want to celebrate all of my identities but usually I just feel left out.

— Lara Boyle

A 2015 study found links among one's ability to be out and in community with others socially and mental health, so LGBTQ+ events need to make greater outreach efforts to be accessible for all its members.

A Black Bisexual Educator's Insights

T.J. Tallie, PhD, a director and associate professor of History and Africana Studies at the University of San Diego describes how queerness may make individuals increasingly vulnerable along other axes of identity. "Queer women, for example, have additional vulnerabilities legally and physically in terms of their queerness that is already understood in a male-dominated society," he says.

As a Black queer person, Tallie explains how his vulnerabilities as a Black person are often highlighted through structural racial disparities within the United States, and then, within queer communities, as well.

Tallie highlights, "Often, we think of a unified LGBTQIA+ identity. When we don't clarify that, we tend to presume that anybody that identifies as LGBTQ+ is a cis white, able-bodied, conventionally attractive man."

T.J. Tallie, PhD

Often, we think of a unified LGBTQIA+ identity. When we don't clarify that, we tend to presume that anybody that identifies as LGBTQ+ is a cis white, able-bodied, conventionally attractive man.

— T.J. Tallie, PhD

A 2017 article noted the need for a re-imagining of sexuality and gender to better disrupt the problematic status quo of heteronormativity.And Tallie's experience reinforces the need for an intersectional lens.

A Racialized Pansexual Counsellor's Positionality

Brandi Garza, MA, LPC, a therapist with Mindpath Health, who is based in Dallas, TX, says, "I am a pansexual woman, adopted out of poverty at 13. I am, and have always been aware of the tragic loss of the human spirit to those marginalized by the majority of persons in positions of power." 

Having been in mental health for nearly 20 years, Garza has made a career out of the constant pursuit of helping human beings truly see each other, as she shares how she confronts her traditional, Southern grandparents when they use language that promotes oppressive beliefs.

Garza highlights, "My hope is that every [Pride] flag helps 'those' people feel included, accepted, and proud.  There are lifetimes of experiences that have left that same group of people feeling hopeless, worthless, and ashamed of their authentic self."

By encouraging all individuals to ask themselves about what else can be done, Garza notes how oppression can be insidious. "For example, when you see a homeless youth or someone suffering from addiction, ask yourself what more could they be dealing with," she says.

A Disabled Black Trans Visionary's Perspective

Van Bailey, MA, EdD, the inaugural director of LGBTQ+ student centers at both Harvard College and the University of Miami, who is based in Temple Hill, MD, says, "Black trans individuals often face challenges in terms of health insurance, having competent doctors, job discrimination, etc."

Bailey notes how Black trans individuals often experience issues like homelessness, as a direct result of the difficulties they may confront in finding affirming workplaces that value their knowledge and skills.

Van Bailey, MA, EdD

Black trans individuals often face challenges in terms of health insurance, having competent doctors, job discrimination, etc.

— Van Bailey, MA, EdD

It is why Bailey highlights gaps in policies that fail to take queer realities into account. "A number of people passed away that were close to me, but there were no bereavement policies that speak to chosen family," he says.

Especially when a 2019 study found that family dynamics impacted youth mental health in complex ways, it is crucial to recognize that "family" may be chosen, rather than only biological, especially when queer.

An Older Queer Racial Minority Immigrant's Thoughts

Renato "Rainier" M. Liboro, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, says, "We stand on the shoulders of many before us who have fought for our equal rights, equitable access to services and programs to meet our needs, recognition, and solidarity from those who see us for who we truly are, and the things we are able to have."

As a young child, Liboro remembers that he never imagined that he would marry the most loving man, teach and conduct community-engaged research on health disparities, and have the acceptance, validation, support, and love of family, friends, and peers as a queer person.

Liboro notes, "Having these things have to do with the privileges afforded to me by some of the intersecting domains of my identity, and my hard work, but it is important to recall the opportunities that have been created for us by those who struggled, persevered, and paved the way before us."

If able to recall these struggles of past LGBTQ+ generations, Liboro believes that it can help to propel even more progress. "It will inspire us to continue to do the work that genuinely gives us Pride," he says.  

A Queer Solo-Polyamorous Social Worker's Feedback

Brian Ackerman, LMSW, a queer solo-polyamorous social worker, says, "Notice the wide visibility and celebration of LGBTQIA+ folx during Pride Month. The rest of the year, this visibility and celebration is typically limited to LGBTQIA+ spaces (bars, clubs, venues, community spaces, etc.), and the default mode for the rest of the world is heteronormative."

Ackerman recommends, "Having compassion for LGBTQIA+ folx, combining empathy for the lack of this visibility throughout the rest of the year, and a commitment to action to make the world a more accepting place for LGBTQIA+ folx in your community and social networks." 

By considering lessons from the queer experience, Ackerman asks if there may be a closet of your own that you remain in because of fear of being alienated. "Is there a different way you want to approach your intimate relationships and relationship with your family of origin," he asks.

Ackerman further explains, "There is so much that non-LGBTQIA+ folx can learn from the activism and pride of the LGBTQIA+ community, and as Pride Month illustrates, many of these lessons can lead to your own sense of liberation and acceptance of self in your own life."

A Black Nonbinary Mother's Lens

Shanéa Thomas, LICSW, LCSW-C, LCSW, EdD, a LGBTQ+ training specialist and assistant research professor at the University of Maryland, says, "Pride events can be an opportunity to start to build community. Even though I know that people have a hard time with the commercialization of Pride, it can help the subcultures, like kink."

As an educator who uses male and female pronouns interchangeably, Thomas notes that different aspects of his identity do not cancel one another out. "People say you're Black first and then you're queer second, or you choose to be trans, but I need them to understand this work is horizontal, not vertical, nor is it like stacked on top of each other."

Shanéa Thomas, LICSW, LCSW-C, LCSW, EdD

People say you're Black first and then you're queer second, or you choose to be trans, but I need them to understand this work is horizontal, not vertical, nor is it like stacked on top of each other.

— Shanéa Thomas, LICSW, LCSW-C, LCSW, EdD

Thomas explains, "Patrick Johnson says 'Blackness is queerness.' My identities affect everything. It affects the way that I dress, the way that I pay rent, how I register my kid's school, what gender that I put on their birth certificate, how I buy a house, like all of those things really do make a difference in how Black trans queer nonbinary folks see the world." 

A 2021 study found that there was a need for more research to measure the efficacy of queer-affirming mental health training approaches.It is part of why Thomas felt called to engage in teaching, as she saw the gaps in how these systems operated after working at an alternative high school

What This Means For You

While Pride can be a time to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities, it may provide a useful moment to reflect on how you can work in solidarity with queer people, who may also be BIPOC, fat, Muslim, etc.

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