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To My LGBTQ Community Struggling in the Wake of the Orlando Shooting

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I have as many identities as I do pairs of shoes or snap back hats. I am a young adult. I am a daughter, sister, and friend. I am a Christian. I have generalized anxiety disorder, seasonal depression, anorexia and panic disorder. I am also a member of the LGBTQ community.

After the devastating events Saturday night in Orlando, my mind has been loud. I have been in a steady state of mourning, for the victims, for their families and for every member and ally of our beautiful community.

Over the next several weeks, the media will be filled with depictions of our community. Every angle will be covered, countless stories will be told. False information will get tossed around. I want to tell my story. I want to paint you a picture of my community, of my family.

Queer people tend to be well-versed in mental illness. We are aware of triggers and breakdowns and those moments when you can’t stop crying or screaming. We are a community made up of outcasts and outsiders, children who were rejected because of who they love. We are a community with an open arms and open door policy, a community that loves with abandon and without question.

Every queer space I’ve ever been in, has also been a mental health safe space. People tend to be upfront about the mental struggles they are facing. No one is turned away. No one is shamed. No one is mocked. Instead, you are brought into the fold, with a group of people reaching to put their number in your phone.

“If you need anything, ever… call me. I’ll answer.”

My community is beautiful and loving and vibrant. The events of Saturday night will not destroy us. Nothing can destroy us. Many have tried, and many will continue to try. But we will continue to sing and dance and kiss the ones we love.

For every teenager having a panic attack on the dance floor, for every adult standing in the corner with tears rolling down your face, for every innocent life lost, for every person hated for being who they are…

We are sounding our battle cry. We will never give up. We will fight for you. 

From the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community faces mental health conditions just like the rest of the population. However, you may experience more negative mental health outcomes due to prejudice and other biases. Knowing what challenges you may face as a member of the LGBTQ community and how to find and work with LGBTQ-inclusive providers can help ensure more positive outcomes. If you or someone you love needs support, head here.

Originally published: June 13, 2016
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