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Why Shows Like 'Sense 8' Are Important for the LGBTQ Community's Mental Health

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As many of you may know, June was Pride Month for LGBTQ individuals. As many of you may also know, “Sense 8” was cancelled on June 1st, which was a devastating blow to myself and other members of the LGBTQ community. There are many people who are left without a beacon of hope.

“Sense 8” is a diverse, complex and beautiful show centered on the connection between eight people all over the globe. Among the main characters included a gay Latino couple, a transgender woman in a relationship with a woman of color who was raised in a poly (or poly-resembling) home, and six other characters who the writers think of as pansexual.

So why is canceling “Sense 8” on the first day of Pride Month such a big deal?

First of all, it is important to understand that many LGBTQ individuals have mental illnesses. When constantly facing pressures of heteronormativity and confronting constant homophobia, sometimes people resort to self-harm or suicide. Rates of suicide attempts are four times higher in the LGBTQ community than in the straight community.

That said, canceling such diverse representation, where the queer relationships were healthy, loving, unapologetic and realistic, gives viewers the impression that society does not accept them. Rather than continuing to normalize these relationships and identities, people feel as though their relationships and identities are shameful. Doing such a thing on the first day of Pride Month is just a slap in the face.

Without such representation to encourage LGBTQ people to be their authentic selves, it reinforces ideas and behaviors that are already prevalent in people who face depression: self-doubt, social isolation, hopelessness, frustration and guilt. If a person doesn’t feel safe enough in society to come out, they may choose to repress their sexual identity, which is a common factor in LGBTQ depression.

So what can we do?

First, we need to remember that our identities are valid and if we have any worries about our mental health, we should seek whatever help necessary, if possible. After all, we can’t fight heteronormativity and homophobia if we’re not taking care of ourselves first! That is priority number one.

Also, remember there are organizations available to us: GLAAD, The Trevor Project, NAMI, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and more. Reach out for help if you need it and know you are not alone.

Finally, take Nomi’s words with today, and in every other day of your life, because they hold a beautiful truth we can all do well to remember: “Today, I march to remember that I’m not just a me. I’m also a we. We march with pride.”

Update from the author: Because of the rush of support from fans, the creators of “Sense 8” are going to be releasing a two hour special next year to tie up loose ends. This show has made such a big impact and we will get the closure we all deserve. If anything, this proves that the LGBTQ community is a close family, just like us at The Mighty.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead photo via Sense 8 Facebook page

Originally published: September 9, 2017
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