In the 2022 version of the United States of America, the celebration of Pride Month and all of its nationwide city parades, carnivals, concerts, and other events are being overshadowed by the recent and unexpected erosion of the simple basic rights the LGBTQ+ community had originally fought so hard to establish.
These are basic rights that the rest of the U.S. population takes for granted every day – to live free from discrimination in all aspects of their life, from employment to housing, health care to education, and even from the weekly trip to the grocery store.
The LGBTQ+ community has never asked for special treatment in any way, just to be treated as everyone else in American society is.
It’s nothing more and nothing less than just being treated like others. Unfortunately, in America v. 2022, that’s asking too much.
Sadly, it is no surprise to learn that members of the LGBTQ+ community are at a severely increased risk of developing either a substance use disorder (SUD) or a mental health disorder (MHD) – or both.
However, before we look at this changing political landscape where the LGBTQ+ community has now been unjustly pushed into center stage, let’s first look at this year’s Pride Month events and celebrations.
Pride Month, June 2022: What’s Happening?
New York Pride: Where It All Began
In New York, the spiritual home of the Pride movement, the theme for this year’s Pride celebrations states clearly and rightly defiantly – “Unapologetically Us.” New York is considered the birthplace of the Pride movement, and this year’s theme echoes the historical struggle of LGBTQ+ rights and the new struggle for the LGBTQ+ community appearing rapidly on the near horizon.
Sandra Pérez, the NYC Pride Executive Director, explains it perfectly: “Our community has been through tremendous hardships over the past few years, beginning with the pandemic, and continuing with a reckoning with social justice, threats to our democracy, and more recently armed conflict overseas.”
“Compounding these struggles is the onslaught of legislation around the country that directly targets LGBTQIA+ individuals. In spite of these challenges and attacks, we are here to tell the country and the world: we will not be erased. We will stand together to face these attacks on our LGBTQIA+ siblings across the country and around the world.”
“We will continue to love and live our truth and be our full and complete selves – and we are not going to apologize for it.”
Sandra Pérez, the NYC Pride Executive Director
NYC Pride recently unveiled its 2022 visual campaign with images captured by photographer Mike Ruiz, including well-known LGBTQ+ celebrities, such as Julian Gavino, Sicily Sierra, B. Hawk Snipes, and Kirill Kabachenko.
You can see Ruiz’s striking images in the video below
NYC Pride (The Official NYC LGBT Pride Organizer)
We recently launched our official campaign and theme for 2022: #UnapologeticallyUs. Go behind the scenes and see all the action from the photoshoot with Photographer Mike Ruiz and YSL Beauty, Official Makeup sponsor of the campaign.]
For the first time in 3 years, all events at NYC Pride this year are fully in-person, such as the world-famous NYC Pride March, which takes place on June 26th. In fact, “Pride Weekend” is going to be a very busy one (the last weekend in June), because there are also all these events happening, too:
- NYC Pride Island, the premier music festival of Pride month, makes its long-anticipated in-person return from June 25-26th, with Lil Kim headlining.
- NYC PrideFest, the annual LGBTQ+ street fair, takes place on Sunday, June 26th in Greenwich Village.
- The NYC Pride Rally returns on Friday, June 24th.
- The Party with NYC Pride event takes place with Fantasy Days and Teaze on Saturday, June 25th, and Bliss Days on Sunday, June 26th.
- NYC Pride is back to engaging youth and families fully in person with Youth Pride and Family Movie Night, and
- Rounding out the calendar is the NYC Pride Conference, film festival Pride Presents, and culinary event The Brunch.
“The past few years have been incredibly challenging for New York. Reviving the local economy is of vital importance, and tourism has long been the lifeblood of the city. NYC Pride has always been an important economic catalyst for the city, bringing in people from across the country to celebrate. We’re thrilled to be able to finally invite everyone back.”
– Sue Doster, NYC Pride Co-Chair
For more information about NYC Pride this June 2022, please visit www.nycpride.org.
Phoenix Pride, Arizona
Here in Arizona, Phoenix Pride, founded in 1981 and the Pride movement’s non-profit organizers for the city and beyond, is hosting a wide range of events, including:
- The Pageant to find “Miss & Mister Phoenix Pride” (June 12th), and the
- Cabaret Fundraiser for the Arizona LGBT+ History Project, with the
- Phoenix Pride Parade (October) and the
- Phoenix Pride Festival in Steele Indian Park on the middle weekend of October (15-16th), both scheduled for later this year
“Unapologetically Us”: The Discrimination Goes On
The LGBTQ+ community has suffered untold discrimination, prejudice, and maltreatment for years. However, since the inception of the Pride movement in New York in 1969, then gradually across the U.S. and the world, their fight for basic rights continues, regardless of the small victories along the way.
Once such rights were being written into federal and state law, some state governments are now moving to curtail legislation and the legal rights they have already granted, eroding any real progress that has been made in the U.S.
Individual Republican state representatives (known in the U.S. as “GOP lawmakers”) have filed nearly 200 state bills this year that seek to erode and even destroy the legal protections for transgender and gay youth and restrict the discussion of LGBTQ topics in public schools.
In response, members of the LGBTQ community believe these unprecedented efforts are aimed specifically at removing the previously hard-earned civil rights of a vulnerable part of U.S. society.
And who are those in the LGBTQ+ community who will suffer the real force of this discrimination? Tragically, the community’s children and adolescents.
Even worse, it’s already happening.
Explosion of Proposed U.S. Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation
One U.S. Democrat, Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani, said recently, “This wave of bills has been staggering. These painful state-level fights are proof positive that discrimination is still a very real threat that directly harms members of our most vulnerable communities, including and especially young people who are transgender.”
Unfortunately, the Florida representative is not wrong. According to the Washington Post, this explosion of legislation is in part “the culmination of efforts by a trio of conservative organizations, which are helping state legislators write and promote the bills.”
These U.S. conservative organizations include the highly divisive, religious Alliance Defending Freedom, which has fought LGBTQ rights in U.S. courts for decades and actively advocates the criminalization of consensual sex between gay adults.
Yes. Now. In 2022.
“None of us should have to feel persecuted by our own government. None of us should have to feel like political refugees in our own country.”
– Camille Rey, mother of 9-year-old Leon, a transgender boy, Potomac, Maryland
Direct, Detestable & Discriminatory: “Don’t Say Gay”
According to the Post’s article entitled “GOP Lawmakers Push Historic Wave of Bills Targeting Rights of LGBTQ Teens, Children & Their Families” and published in March of this year, there are currently 166 proposed measures to restrict LGBTQ rights still pending in state legislatures across the nation.
Furthermore, tracking this legislation is extremely difficult because these anti-LGBTQ+ lawmakers use the dubious practice of deliberately not mentioning the words “transgender” or “LGBTQ” in their bill text, either intentionally to escape detection or because they do not acknowledge the legitimacy of transgender or queer identity, according to advocacy groups and experts.
Many of the new bills (around 75) call for primary grade school bans or severe restrictions on classroom discussions, curriculum, and library books that talk about LGBTQ issues. One such bill in Florida, passed by the state legislature on March 8 of this year, has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Act.”
There are even bills proposing banning transgender youth from playing competitive school sports on teams that don’t align with the gender they were assigned at birth.
Michael Boucai, a law professor at the University at Buffalo who specializes in family law and gender and sexuality law, argues that the new bills aim to please partisan interests rather than spark a real debate about how to best help LGBTQ children.
Boucai recently stated in an interview, “The laws are being drafted in such an extreme way, and with such potentially opportunistic motives, that it is very easy for the left to reject them. The right doesn’t want a debate on these issues. [Many] involve parents’ rights to control their children’s health care and education.”
“One of the biggest things I struggle with… is accepting myself, honestly. Society does not cater to me or to people like me, I’m always in a constant battle of validating my own identity – having society tell me to throw it away.”
– Alora Lemalu, LGBTQ+ activist and artist from Springfield, Missouri
Active LGBTQ+ Discrimination Increases Mental Health Risk
Numerous analytical research studies in the U.S. and elsewhere confirm the risk of substance use, abuse, and addiction among the LGBTQ+ community, particularly its youth, is severely heightened by their ongoing discrimination in all aspects of life.
Furthermore, LGBTQ+ youth are at least 2 times more likely to use substances than youth who identify as heterosexual.
Additionally, sexual minority youth are also at increased risk of using multiple substances – known as “polysubstance use” or, more commonly, “poly use”), which can seriously exacerbate the harms of drug use, e.g., the risk of an overdose, either fatal or non-fatal.
A prime example of poly use which has been shown in recent years to be responsible for thousands of fatal overdoses, is the use of opioids and alcohol.
The Cumulative Effect of LGBTQ+ Discrimination: Stats & Facts
- LGBTQ+ people are twice as likely as non-LGBTQ+ people to have a mental health condition and continue to show disparities in mental health, even though they are more likely to use mental health services
- People who identify as LGBTQ+ have more frequent suicidal thoughts, known as “suicide ideation,” and rates are continuing to rise
- 56% of LGBTQ+ individuals who took a Mental Health America (MHA) depression screen in 2021 reported having suicidal thoughts more than half or nearly every day of the previous two weeks – nearly 7% higher than the reported rate in 2019.
- The Trevor Project reports that 73% of LGBTQ+ youth report experiencing symptoms of anxiety, 58% report symptoms of depression, and 45% report having seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
- According to the U.S. Transgender Survey, 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide during their lifetime, compared to less than 5% of the general U.S. population.
LGBTQ+ Support for Children & Parents
Many support organizations, programs, and groups exist in the U.S. that can help your child, other family members, and yourself access professional information and facilitate sharing your experiences with others.
Here are the most popular resources available now for parental LGBTQ+ support in the U.S.:
- PFLAG: For more than 40 years, PFLAG has been providing peer-to-peer support, publications, toolkits, and other resources to make sure that the family members of people who are LGBTQ get the support they need. This allows families to then further support, affirm, and advocate on behalf of their LGBTQ loved ones.
- Family Acceptance Project: The Family Acceptance Project® (FAP) is an ongoing academic study into how families respond to learning about a child or adolescent’s LGBTQ identity and how family and caregiver reactions contribute to the health, mental health, and development for LGBTQ young people.The Family Acceptance Project® (FAP) is directed by Dr. Caitlin Ryan at the Marian Wright Edelman Institute at San Francisco State University, CA.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: The Child Welfare Information Gateway promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, by connecting professionals as well as the public to information, resources, and tools covering topics on child welfare. It is a professional resource service provided by the Children’s Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
- National Network of LGBTQ Family Groups: With the evolution of social media and online networks, LGBTQ family groups have sprung up all across the nation. Family Equality’s National Network of LGBTQ Family Groups exists to support and coordinate these groups, providing a platform to educate and support LGBTQ family groups and community leaders.
- NYC Pride. Sandra Pérez appointed Executive Director of NYC Pride. November 2021. Available at NYCPride.org.
- YouTube: NYC Pride. NYC Pride (The Official NYC LGBT Pride Organizer).. April, 2022. Available at YouTube.com.
- All listed and sourced NYC Pride Events, 2022, are available at NYCPride.org/Events.
- All listed and sourced Phoenix Pride Events, 2022, are available at PhoenixPride.org.
- Washington Post. GOP Lawmakers Push Historic Wave of Bills Targeting Rights of LGBTQ Teens, Children & Their Families. March 2022. Available at WashingtonPost.com.
- Partnership to End Addiction. Why LGBTQ+ Youth Are at Increased Risk for Substance Use & How You Can Help. December 2020. Available at DrugFree.org.
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Sexual Orientation and Estimates of Adult Substance Use and Mental Health. 2015. Available at SAMHSA.org.
- Mental Health America. LGBTQ+ Mental Health. Insights from MHA Screenings. 2019. Available at MHANational.org.
- The Trevor Project. 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. 2022. Available at TheTrevorProject.org.
- The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. 2016. Available at Transequality.org.
- PFLAG. 2021. Available at PFLAG.org/.
- San Francisco State University: Family Acceptance Project. 2021. Available at FamilyProject.SFSU.edu.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: Resources for Resources for Families of LGBTQ+ Youth. 2021. Available at ChildWelfare.gov.
- Family Equality: National Network of LGBTQ Family Groups. 2021. Available at FamilyEquality.org.