- June 18, 2020
Post submitted by Deanna Richards, licensed mental health counselor and owner and founder of Fresh Path NY and On the Mend.
June. Pride month. Everybody loves Pride, right? Not quite. The truth is that while many look forward to the festivities, to chances to reconnect and make new connections, to frivolous flings or the strengthening of bonds that Pride festivities offer, many queer and trans people of color experience alienation from Pride events that do not reflect or honor the true diversity of our community.
That’s why dozens of Black, Latinx, Asian and other affinity Prides were created throughout the country. We go to Pride to feel like a part of the community that’s bigger than ourselves and to share in a space that is both socially and politically important. However, if you don’t see your life reflected there, it’s hard to feel connected. QTPOC folk go to affinity Prides to experience being seen for being LGBTQ and Black and/or Latinx and/or Asian, and to see ourselves as we want to be seen in ways that we don’t at mainstream pride events. These Pride events — those that are created by and for specific communities of color — are incredibly affirming and help to enhance our overall well-being.
Sadly, although many mainstream Prides have moved into digital spaces this year, many affinity Prides have been outright canceled in response to COVID-19. Many QTPOC who turn to affinity Prides as a source of joy and resilience now have fewer outlets than in recent years, and right at a time when they most need it: A global pandemic which is disproportionately impacting QTPOC and a 24-7 global conversation, complete with triggering videos highlighting police violence against Black people. Altogether, it is a trying time for the mental health of QTPOC.
And that is why it is especially important to find ways to connect to the remaining affinity Pride events and to find other empowering ways to celebrate all of our identities this Pride season to help counteract the impact of social isolation made necessary by COVID-19. I wanted to share some strategies that QTPOC can use to thrive through Pride 2020:
Attend virtual QTPOC Prides together or keep the date. If you already had friends, lovers, partners or family that you were going to attend QTPOC Pride with and it’s happening virtually, participate! If the event you were going to attend has been cancelled altogether, KEEP THE DATE and brainstorm some ways to celebrate on your own, whether that’s putting together a virtual QTPOC pride of your own or other ways. While it’s okay to grieve what the event would have been, make a concrete plan to be with community virtually and create that sacred intentional space. None of these can fully replace what you’ve lost, but you may find that you end up creating positive memories from the day.
Attend mainstream Prides together. NYC’s virtual LGBTQ Pride event is slated to go live Sunday, June 28. If you plan to participate, being alongside people who value equity and inclusion can go a long way in creating a safe and powerful way to attend this event. If possible, join up with others to attend together in a virtual space that is representative of you and that seeks to challenge non-inclusivity.
Attend Black Lives Matter protests together. Peaceful BLM protests can be especially affirming experiences. Not only will you benefit from being with loved ones, you can also find some healing in community with the multitudes of people who are all showing up for racial justice. If you do choose to attend a protest, make sure to create a plan and to bring the resources that you need to stay safe. Note, too, that a good number of Prides are now focused on ending discriminatory and abusive policing.
Seek private time or space to connect. For some QTPOC who are not out to their families, these events offered a safe space to be fully seen. While not everyone has the freedom to have full privacy, asking for some private time or heading to the stoop, fire escape or any other private area to connect with others can be hugely important to reducing feelings of isolation and increasing a sense of community. And for QTPOC folks thinking about coming out, HRC has some resources that can help guide this challenging decision.
Create your own personal celebration. For some, not having the pressure to participate in these larger scale events might even come as a relief (I see you, my dear introverts!). Use the time to do something to celebrate yourself, your journey and your unique being. Make it a sacred and concrete time to honor you, feed your spirit and enhance your overall well-being.
Talk to someone who aligns with your values. Now might be a time to reach out to a QTPOC counselor or join an online support group that values and practices from an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens. Taking steps to address your emotional well-being is a powerful act of self-love, self-advocacy and resistance. As Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” them. has a great collection of resources and On The Mend offers up downloadable courses created by two QTPOC therapists.
If you are white and are reading this, it’s important to know that many QTPOC experience Pride differently than white folk do, and it’s important to recognize this difference not only in an effort to invest in QTPOC mental health — especially now in times of COVID-19 where our communities are experiencing vast injustices and inequalities in terms of health and mental health care -- but as a way to help build equity and inclusion. So, how can you invest in QTPOC mental health at Pride?
Demand inclusion and equity, and call out exclusion and injustice when you see it. Make the choice to give of your resources to an organization that supports and celebrates QTPOC folks and is actively working towards equity.
This pandemic has taken some precious things from us — but within the QTPOC community exists a deep history of resiliency. We can all take a moment to tap into that reservoir while we plan for the return of events in the next year. Mental health is a community project and the more we can come together and celebrate our differences, the better off we will be.
Deanna Richards is a New York native, music lover and global trekker. Deanna graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University; is the owner and founder of Fresh Path NY, a group practice dedicated and specialized in issues affecting LGTBTQ+, POC and Open & Poly communities; and is the co-founder of On The Mend, providing accessible and affordable coping and holistic healing skills to QTPOC. She has over a decade of experience working with clients on their journey towards wellness using an anti-oppressive, anti-racist and integrative approach.