As I was reflecting on the upcoming LGBTQ+ Pride event in DC, Capital Pride, I thought back to some of last year’s events and messaging. I was reminded of the protest during last year’s parade by members of the Queer Community, including trans folks and People of Color, who did not feel included, nor represented, in the Pride festivities. Not by coincidence, the theme for this year’s Capital Pride is Elements of Us, reminding us that we are a kaleidoscope of people. A multiplicity of people. A multiplicity of voices. A multiplicity of parts. Our Community is made of many amazing people. Parts to be celebrated. As individuals, we also have multiple “voices” that help us with difficult challenges.
In therapy, one of the approaches used to explore difficult issues and defenses that folks might have, including shame, is the exploration of these parts of ourselves, our internal “voices”. The parts of us that want to take risks, the parts that are afraid, the parts that want to protect, or the parts that criticize. Some parts of us may even feel guilt or shame toward some of our internal voices.
Let’s say for example, I want to take more risks in my relationship, to be more adventurous sexually. However, a part of me fears I will be rejected, and feel ashamed. In order to protect myself from shame, I criticize myself that I will look foolish. I don’t take the risk, and instead I react and distance myself from my relationship. Each one of these is a separate part, with it own needs, and desire to be heard. To connect, to take chance, to be safe, etc…Dan Seigel in his book Mindsight, basically describes health as an integration of disparate parts. With integration, all parts are equal, and make up a larger system.
We have to understand our parts and recognize that they all play an important role in who we are internally. When we fully explore our internal conflicts, we have a much better understanding about who we are as our whole Self.
I think this is also true for us as a community. It is difficult and uncomfortable, but we as a community need to recognize all the parts as equal and valuable, in all of our intersectionalities: POC, Caucasian, Latinx,Trans, femme, masc, bi, gay, lesbian, gender non-conforming, and many, many others. All contribute to the movement, not just the loudest voices.
As a movement, we have made great strides in mainstream America. Within the past 50-years, identifying with another sexual orientation, other than heterosexual, or expressing yourself as differently gendered than the one assigned at birth are no longer reasons to institutionalized. Media images of LGBTQIA folks are no longer one-dimensional characters, who are either portrayed as deviants, who get their just rewards in the end; or as silly, non-sensual, parodies. There are more positive images of LGBTQ+ folks portrayed in the media than ever before, providing readily accessible role models for current young folks. Same sex couples have achieved the right to marry, if they wish to.
We are going beyond just being tolerated, we are, in many cases, moving toward being more understood. The LGBTQ+ movement has impacted the larger American society with powerful, and challenging voices. It has had to continue to examine and dialogue around many issues important to our “agenda”, such as gender identity and expression, multiple sexual orientations, and most recently, consensual non-monogamy to name a few.
I think that part of our work toward more understanding is to explore, support, and celebrate all of our community’s voices. Can we take pride in all our parts? Even the ones that challenge us and push our boundaries? Whether it’s exploring our own internal world, or dancing on a float, or protesting in the streets, we all want to be “seen”. We all want to be understood, and are healthier when we are willing to acknowledge the disparate parts of ourselves, our families, and our community.
Our member therapists are specialists in helping the LGBTQ+ community. To explore more about your internal world, or finding your voice, contact us for an initial consultation or an appointment.