Health & Wellness / Life

Improving our Collective Mental Health by Remembering our Collective Past

We queers have a long and storied history, much of which has been buried, disposed of, forgotten, or never recorded in the first place. Sordid underground affairs carried out in the dark of night to protect the participants from violence and hate have given way to legal marriage and an openness about which our LGBT ancestors could never have dreamed. When your past has been unavailable or eliminated, it is difficult to put the present into context. It is virtually impossible to see the patterns that repeat themselves throughout history. It is challenging to foster a sense of pride when we are unaware of all the milestones that have brought us to this point.

Part of our poor mental health status in the queer community is due to this erasure of history, as our youth doesn’t see itself reflected in textbooks or in mainstream historical resources. Our responsibility is to recover our history and bring it forward, especially in a digital, visual way that will bring it to the attention of our most needy community members, our youth. Young members of our LGBT community need a source to turn to that connects them with a past and shows them how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. The shame of sexual or gender difference, innate in many of us, can be ameliorated through the recollection of our communal past and acknowledgement of our achievements.

There are many available resources to be shared with each other so that past can be celebrated, both during this Pride month and beyond.

Photos from Stonewall to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the uprising: Stonewall 45 years on

The Lesbian Herstory Archives: Digital Collection

The “queer Smithsonian” of SF: GLBT Historical Society

Black LGBT icons: Prominent Black LGBT community members

Famous gays in history: From the Lambda Archives

The largest archive of queer historical materials in the world: From USC

This list is a very, very small sample of what is available both digitally and in person. But even this short list allows us to understand that none of us is alone and that our shared past and mutual battles are what brought us to this point. The improvements that we make in our own lives, both individual and joint, are directly related to our mental health as we move forward together. We need each other to be healthy, to care for ourselves and for each other, in order to be our most powerful. The strength of our perseverance through injustice can and should translate into a deep feeling of pride and satisfaction for ourselves and our “next generations” in June and in every month of the year.

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