Today marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and compared to the same time last year, there is a great deal more concern about the direction the world has been going. Many have scrambled to donate to save gay men currently persecuted in Chechnya, and academicians have petitioned and rallied in support of Dr. Stella Nyanzi at Makerere University in Uganda, a gender, sexuality, and health researcher who was violently arrested on April 7, 2017. There have also been subtle changes in countries with strong progress in recent years, such as the hiring of Jim Renne back into the White House, who previously oversaw a purge of LGBTQ staff, and the vow to repeal marriage equality by a recent major candidate in the French presidential campaign.
Last year, I wrote about how to keep a perspective that promotes change. This year, I think it’s important to consider those factors that researchers have found promote resilience. Glenda Russell has conducted a number of pioneering studies in this area, and has identified 5 key factors that the most resilient LGBTQ people facing political anti-LGBTQ climates have in common:
Cultivate a Movement Perspective
Remember that you’re part of a discussion about what fair and equal treatment is that transcends nationality, time, and geography. Perhaps you were inspired by the queer and trans participants of the women’s marches that occurred around the world this past spring, or you are inspired by the fight against racial injustice or the treatment of refugees? Read what you can, engage in discussion, and remember that you’re not alone in the world.
Confront Your Own Homophobia/Biphobia/Transphobia
Terrible stereotypes about LGBTQ people tend to circulate in the wake of injustice, often as a rationale to justify that treatment. This can be incredibly painful when we, ourselves, are struggling with those thoughts. Explore and expose yourself to LGBTQ affirming television, movies, and sources of information. Consider finding an LGBTQ-affirming psychotherapist in your area.
Take a Stand and Express Yourself
Let those you care about know what your struggles are. Write letters to the editor, to legislators, or to your parents. Engage in actions that feel like they actively combat the abuses occurring in the world. For instance, if you become overwhelmed reading about the horrific circumstances facing gay men in Chechnya, consider donating to the Rainbow Railroad, or the King Baudouin Foundation. Donate a bed for a gay refugee or asylum seeker.
Successful Witnessing: Pay Attention to your Allies
There are those outside the LGBTQ community who are allies and speak up strongly against injustices. Watch for those moments, as this is a powerful reminder that not only others who share our identity are on our side.
Find and make use of your LGBTQ and allied community
You’re definitely not in this alone! Being around other LGBTQ and allied people is a wonderful way to feel secure in our communities. Many workplaces, corporations, and professional organizations offer LGBTQ meet-ups. Take advantage of those spaces when you can. With Pride events observed around the world in just over a month, this can be a powerful time to get lost in a crowd and revel in community.
Matthew D. Skinta, PhD, ABPP, is a board-certified clinical health psychologist, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He currently directs the Sexual & Gender Identities Clinic at Palo Alto University. For information on trainings or workshops, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.