Celebrating inclusion and diversity

Pride Month – June 2021

It’s been a difficult year and we know that our mental health has been affected by COVID-19.

We have never needed support more. We are all in this together.

Coventry and Warwickshire Mind specialises in providing support, information, and advice as a way of empowering people experiencing difficulties with their mental health and emotional wellbeing, to learn tools and strategies which enable them to live a better quality of life for them.

Anyone can experience a mental health problem.

The LGBTQ+ community more than most.

There are some of us who are still left out of the majority and have faced discrimination based on our gender, sexual orientation and identity. Sometimes this marginalisation is out of ignorance that can be tackled through education and understanding. But this discrimination leads to a sense of low self-worth, shame and isolation, and contributes to significant mental health issues.

Anyone can experience a mental health problem. But those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to develop problems such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, eating problems or self-harm.
Being LGBTQ+ does not cause these problems. The reasons why those of us with LGBTQ+ identities are more likely to develop mental health problems can be complicated but it isn’t helped by the daily reality of living with stigma and discrimination, social isolation, exclusion and rejection.

Seeing the people behind the letters!

We are proud to support all communities as they face mental health issues. This month we celebrate our LGBTQ+ communities.

 

LGBTQ+

We’re here for you.

Let’s meet some amazing people behind the letters.

Let’s meet Stephen Fry – President for National Mind

Stephen Fry’s delivered this introduction to a Mind event in February 2017, profiling its work in LGBTQ+ mental health.

“As a gay man and a man with bi-polar disorder, I have a special interest in this evening. It’s a lamentable fact that in 2017 the LGBT+ community should suffer so much from issues that pertain to mental health, and I am talking about the most vital issues imaginable.

“Research has shown that nearly 50% of LGBT+ people have attempted or considered suicide. That is compared to 6% of the normal population. That’s a really disturbing figure, even worst perhaps… is that 80% of trans people have attempted suicide. Not just considered it, but attempted it. This is a real crisis.

“We have to do something to attack the terrific amount of rejection, isolation, discrimination, stigma, and bullying. The appalling lack of self-worth felt by people who have so much to contribute to society.

“A healthy society is when we look out for each other and we welcome devotion and diversity and we are inclusive as possible. Because diversity, let’s face it, is not a choice, it is a fact – we live in a diverse world. People are diverse, thank goodness, otherwise we will be raised of robots. The choice we make is inclusion, inclusivity is the choice, diversity is the fact.

“Mind is absolutely determined to do everything it can to raise this issue, raise the debate on the subject of LGBT+ emergencies and the problems of self-harm, and suicide and feelings of a total lack of self-worth and rejection felt by the community and it’s important that everyone in the medical community understands the particular issues involved around the LGBT+ community and their needs.”

G

A gay man is one who is romantically, sexually, and/or emotionally attracted to men. As well as gay, some people may prefer to be called homosexual or queer – it is important to ask each person their preferred term.

Let’s meet David Bowie

David Bowie helped to champion the LGBTQ+ community at a time where there was a lot of ignorance and resistance within society. During Bowie’s musical career people from the LGBTQ+ communities were being persecuted, attacked, arrested and even murdered for being gay and/or transgender. Through music he told a new story for the masses and refused to be placed into a box and people loved him for it.

His films and music are legendary, his career spanned five decades and his music is enjoyed by many – regardless of gender or sexual orientation – with 5 UK number 1s. 25 UK Top 10s and 63 UK Top 40s

Many loved the way Bowie challenged people’s perceptions of how gender presented and who you can love; with his immaculate make-up, outrageous outfits and undeniable swagger, Bowie showed the world that you can be who you are, and can love who you want, unapologetically.

B

Bi-sexual or Bi for short is an umbrella term used to describe a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender.

Bi people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including, but not limited to, bisexual, pan, queer, and some other non-monosexual and non-monoromantic identities (Stonewall.org.uk, 2020).

Let’s meet Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha was born Malcolm Michaels Jr. on 24th August 1945 in New Jersey, America. An African American trans woman, she had a difficult life but this did not deter her drive for equality for all LGBTQ+ communities. Marsha is honoured as a Stonewall instigator who made real changes. She was also seen as a drag queen, an Andy Warhol model, an actress and a revolutionary trans activist.

Mermaids is a service that support all trans young people and their families. You can visit their website at https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/

Europe’s largest celebration for African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Caribbean-heritage LGBTQ people can be found at https://www.ukblackpride.org.uk/mission-statements

T

Trans or transgender man – a term used to describe someone who is assigned female at birth but identifies and lives as a man. This may be shortened to trans man, or FTM, an abbreviation for female-to-male.

Trans or transgender woman – a term used to describe someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman. This may be shortened to trans woman, or MTF, an abbreviation for male-to-female.

Let’s meet Frida Kahlo

Known as an avid activist, communist and artist, whose paintings were as unique as the artist. Frida was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón on July 6, 1907, in Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico. She experienced many traumas in her life beginning at the age of six, when she was diagnosed with polio. Although she recovered, the illness left her with a limp and problems with her right leg and foot. Her father encouraged her to play sports as a way of recovery, including wrestling – which as a girl, was unheard of at the time. This was to be the first indicator that Frida did not follow the “norm”.

Frida began painting at age 18, following a severe bus crash whereby she was impaled on a pole and was required to be bed bound for some time. These injuries were life changing, and resulted in infertility, and a long-lasting disability. Throughout her life, she would encounter several problems with her physical and mental health, however this never deterred her from making the most of her life and fighting for what she thought was right.

Seemingly unafraid of societal perception, Frida had relationships with men and women, and was also known to wear “men’s clothing” which again was an anomaly for the time.

Frida famously quoted, “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best”.

Frida struggled with her mental health, and her paintings were clear physical examples of her emotions, thoughts, and feelings. In knowing yourself well and being your own expert by experience, allows you insight into what your needs are, and something which Mind promotes.

Until her death, Frida fought politically for what she believed in and recognised as a bi-sexual, feminist, queer icon.

If you would like to help Coventry and Warwickshire Mind to better improve our services, we would love to hear from you. Experts by experience are a group of people with lived experience of mental health who help Coventry and Warwickshire Mind to find more inclusive ways of working and better services for all. To find out more about Experts by Experience please email admin@cwmind.org.uk

Q

Queer is a term used by those wanting to reject specific labels of romantic orientation, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can also be a way of rejecting the perceived norms of the LGBT community (racism, sizeism, ableism etc). Although some LGBT people view the word as a slur, it was reclaimed in the late 80s by the queer community who have embraced it (Stonewall, 2020).

Let’s meet Valentino Vecchietti

Valentino is based in the UK, and is an activist and journalist working on projects with universities and the arts. Valentino and psychotherapist Jane Czyzselska educate the therapy world by providing workshops and seminars to therapists around all things intersex.

There are an estimated 129 million intersex people in the world – or 1.7 per cent of the global population of 7.6 billion however numbers may be higher than this. According to the UN, most surgeries on intersex babies amount to torture. And yet that is the practice in almost every country in the world today. Most babies and children born with a combination of sex variations are often operated on without their consent for aesthetic reasons rather than this being a medical necessity.

Consequently, this can cause great trauma in later life for intersex people, they are not recognised within the human rights act, and are encouraged to keep them being intersex a secret. This therefore can encourage a narrative of shame and isolation for intersex people.

As Valentino says, “Currently, people born with variations in their sex characteristic are not included in the Equalities Act 2010”.“Our bodies, our rights”.

Valentino Vecchietti calls for urgent change (https://newint.org/authors/valentino-vecchietti, 2020)

 

I

Intersex is a term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female. Intersex people may identify as male, female or non-binary. (Stonewall, 2020)