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Stonewall and LGBTQ+ Mental Health

June 28th marks the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, a pivotal moment in the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Commemorating Stonewall educates both LGBTQ+ individuals and the broader society about the history of LGBTQ+ rights and hopefully inspires the hope and motivation we need to combat mental health issues often higher in LGBTQ+ populations.

The Stonewall rebellion began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. At that time, frequent and arbitrary police raids on the City’s LGBTQ+ bars were common and resulted in harassment, entrapment, injury, and arrests. 

In the late 1960s, homosexual acts — even kissing or holding hands — were illegal in every state except Illinois. Bars and restaurants could be shut down for employing or serving gay individuals. New York even had a “gender-appropriate clothing” statute. If LGBTQ+ individuals wanted to socialize in public spaces they had to risk injury, exposure, and arrest.

Thirteen people were removed from the Stonewall Inn and arrested during the June 28th raid. But rather than disperse and retreat as they had in the past, bar patrons and local residents remained outside and fought back. Fed up with years of discrimination and police corruption, protestors surrounded the Inn, and after 45 minutes police barricaded themselves inside the same bar they had just raided. 

Several days of demonstrations followed, involving thousands of New York residents and garnering long-overdue media coverage. Brave individuals — many of whom were transgender people of color, drag queens, and homeless youth — stood up against systemic oppression and risked their lives, livelihoods, and legal action to demand respect and basic rights. Stonewall didn't start the gay rights movement but it certainly lit a fire beneath it.

The first Pride march was held in New York City on June 28, 1970, the one-year anniversary of the rebellion. Pride Month is still held in June to coincide with the anniversary. Parades, festivals, and other community events create a supportive environment where people can connect with others who share similar life experiences and journeys, providing relief from feelings of isolation and promoting a sense of belonging.

On June 24, 2016, President Barack Obama designated the streets and sidewalks around the Stonewall Inn as a national monument, the first LGBTQ+ historic site to receive this honor.

This moment highlights mental health challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community, who experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide compared to the general population. Discrimination, stigma, hate crimes, and the erosion of basic rights have increased across the globe and threaten the physical and mental well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals. 

The idea of culturally-competent healthcare is relatively recent and the sacrifices made at Stonewall on this landmark 55th anniversary remind us how crucial it is to provide culturally-aware mental health care that meets the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals. 

LGBTQ+ adults between the ages of 18 and 30 are more than twice as likely to experience mental health challenges than the non-LGBTQ+ population. LGBTQIA+ youth are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression and are over twice as likely to contemplate suicide.

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and are dealing with anxiety and depression, you’re not alone. Bodhi Counseling cares deeply about the well-being of all our clients. We’re committed to nurturing diversity within our local community, staff, and among our clients. 

You’ll find yourself in a welcoming, professional environment designed to promote unity and connection. Contact us to arrange a free consultation with one of our therapists and start your journey toward mental health.


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