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Happy Pride! Let's celebrate the gifts Queer people bring to our world!

It would be no surprise to discover that growing up in the South yields a particular social and religious worldview that failed to understand the LGBTQ+ community. Yet, through Grad school, lived experiences, and people I love and deeply respect identifying as queer, I had to do some deep reflection and reorientation. As a straight cis-gendered male, I discovered the amount of privilege I carry and the ways our social systems exclude those on the margins, especially queer people. I've found that this social preservation tactic only ostracizes queer people and inhibits us from witnessing the liberation queer people experience when they live fully as who they are. This month, I hope we remember the importance of allyship, honoring queer history that has paved the way forward, and celebrating the richness of life the LGBTQ+ community brings to the world. 

Allyship: Standing Together

Being an ally means more than just waving a rainbow flag. It's about listening, learning, and standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. As therapists, we must create safe spaces where our clients can express their true selves without fear of judgment. Allyship involves continuous education about the issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community, advocating for their rights, and amplifying their voices. It's about understanding that our role is to support and uplift, ensuring that all individuals feel seen and valued.

Liberation: Honoring History

The Stonewall Riots of 1969 were a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Led predominantly by transgender women of color, including icons like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, these riots marked the beginning of a new era of resistance and liberation. The bravery displayed during those nights at the Stonewall Inn catalyzed the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, reminding us that the fight for equality is far from over. In our therapeutic work, we honor these trailblazers by acknowledging their struggles and working to dismantle the systems of oppression that still exist today. Additionally, we draw inspiration from influential figures like Bayard Rustin. An unsung hero of the Civil Rights Movement, Rustin was an openly gay man whose organizational genius and unwavering commitment to nonviolent activism were instrumental in the fight for racial equality. His contributions underscore the deep connections between various liberation movements.

Gifts to the World: Celebrating Diversity

The queer community enriches our world with creativity, resilience, and a profound sense of identity. From groundbreaking contributions in the arts to pioneering advancements in various fields, LGBTQ+ individuals bring unique perspectives and talents that enhance our society. Bayard Rustin, with his profound impact on civil rights, exemplifies the transformative power of intersectional advocacy. Rustin's legacy reminds us that the fight for equality in one area strengthens the fight for equality in all areas. As therapists, we can celebrate these gifts by encouraging clients to embrace their identities, fostering environments where diversity is celebrated, and highlighting the contributions of queer individuals from all walks of life.

Let's commit to being unwavering allies, honor the courageous legacy of those who fought for liberation, and celebrate the extraordinary gifts the queer community brings to our world. Together, we can build a more inclusive and accepting society for all. - Josh Esparza 


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