Reflecting on LGBTQ Pride Month (June) and Anticipating National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July)

According to my research via the internet, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Pride Month (LGBTQ Pride Month) is celebrated this month (June) to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots refer to what happened when the New York City police force raided a popular Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn on Friday evening, June 27, 1969.  Though raids were not unusual in 1969, that night the patrons in the bar resisted arrest, fought back, and continued protesting for several nights now known as the Stonewall Riots.

My understanding is that prior to that summer in 1969, there was little information known of the lives and experiences of gays and lesbians. The riots marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement which continues to nip at the heels of the conservative social mores of US mainstream communities. The movement engages the community-at-large to fully face the oppression of gay and lesbian individuals and to take action to support LGBTQ  pride and action.

Today, PRIDE month encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, celebratory events like picnics, parties, and concerts, and academic activities such as workshops and symposia.  LGBT Pride Month is now celebrated throughout the world, attracting millions of participants. Most importantly, during this month memorials are held for community members who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The intent behind this PRIDE month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning individuals in society on the local, national and international stage.

July is the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (NMMHAM) and during this month organizations will create mental health awareness opportunities in diverse communities. The US House of Representatives proclaimed July as this special month in 2008, aiming to improve access to mental health treatment and services through increased public awareness.  Since 2008, many organizations have hosted a variety of events and activities in communities across the country each year. The National Network to Eliminate Disparities (a SAMHSA-supported initiative) hosts a Facebook page that provides information and resources for NMMHAM each July.

America’s entire mental health system needs transformation, including services to marginalized communities. We need to learn more about how we can get involved with the events connected to Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. If you are planning events to celebrate Minority Health Awareness, share your event, it’s purpose, and whom you hope to reach so that we can share broadly with other interested organizations.

Contributed by: Suganya Sockalingam
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