The GSBA Blog


Stonewall Anniversary: A Time to Come to Terms With Trauma

by Patrick C. Evans, Sound
| Jun 06, 2019

The following is a guest blog written by Patrick C. Evans, who serves on the GSBA’s Corporate Advisory Board. He is President & CEO of Sound, one of the largest providers of behavioral health services in the region. Sound helps thousands in the community through quality mental health and addiction treatment services. To learn more, visit www.sound.health.

1409.10-30_w Patrick Evans-webAs we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, it is important to reflect on the LGBTQ community’s ongoing struggles and need to heal.

Studies show that decades of sustained and unrelenting adversity, stigma and social exclusion have had incremental and destructive impact on the community’s emotional, physical and mental health. A range of life experiences – from subtle micro-aggressions to hate crimes -- contribute to a traumatic response, or even posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among members of the community.

According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, LGBTQ individuals are nearly three times more likely than the rest of the community to experience depression or anxiety disorders. LGBTQ individuals often are at higher risk for suicide, have significantly higher rates of substance abuse and experience greater disparities in accessing appropriate care.

The Stonewall uprising 50 years ago stirred the LGBTQ community’s dormant ferocity to assert itself against oppression, paving the way for a communal culture of advocacy and social activism. We have remained resilient through countless historic and modern-day struggles such as the AIDS crisis, marginalizing social and public policies, increasingly aggressive hate crimes, mass shootings and civil inequality. Nevertheless, these events still have had a lasting and detrimental impact on the LGBTQ community.

Today, we must continue to apply the very same vision, energy and commitment to taking care of ourselves – working as passionately to address the collective thread of trauma and post-traumatic stress that understandably persists in our community. These traumas are now so “normalized,” so much a part of life, that we do not often think of them in concrete terms. Though the traumas are a quiet constant, we must self-advocate, we must find ways to support one another and we must seek ways to heal.

It starts with the recognition that emotional and mental well-being is an essential and vital part of asserting ourselves against deeply rooted cultural trauma.  Seeking support -- whether it is through connecting with family or friends, or seeking help through mental health and addiction treatment professionals – is key to self-advocacy and critical to taking on normalized traumas.

If there is any time to focus on our emotional, mental and physical well-being and liberate ourselves from the weight of trauma, the 50th anniversary of Stonewall is an apt inspiration. As one of the most significant events leading to the contemporary and ongoing fight for LGBTQ rights, Stonewall can inspire another revolution of self-help and care. There is little doubt that Stonewall’s anniversary marks that it is time to come to terms with our trauma, and embrace support and healing.