Racism, sexism, classism, ageism,
homophobia, HIV/AIDS related illnesses, generational poverty,
fatherless homes, neighborhood crime, violent gay bashing
deaths, prolonged HIV/AIDS deaths.
Physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, spiritual abuse,
drug addiction, alcohol addiction, sexual addition, hyper
masculinity, ultra femininity, "uplift the community,
don't tear it down", "further the race, don't stop
Spiritual guilt, community guilt, "you're going to hell,"
"you're not worthy," spiritual fear, societal fear,
"be a real man," severe loneliness, growing older
and alone, never-ending despair, and frequent suicidal tendencies.
The black gay/lesbian psyche endures most if not all of the
above societal influences, thus sending it into an unusually
deep, darkened, endless spiral of depression that is often
never diagnosed and hardly ever treated.
I would dare to say that there are many within the black
community as a whole, regardless of sexual orientation who
are indeed depressed. Yet with little to no outlets for positive,
non-judgmental dialogue or individual expressions, what eventually
results are seas and oceans of black under-utilized, under-achieved,
under-valued, and under-lived lives that can never be reclaimed.
Black Gay Depression, (BGD) is often an extreme form of depression
because the triggering causes are increased by adding the
element of homophobia to the list of racism, sexism, other
cultural forms of discrimination, stress, strife, and physical
changes within the body.
BGD is a serious and valid form of existence that is hardly
ever documented or uttered into existence. Hence, it is up
to us and only us to fight our own demons, and to seek the
help that we need in order to live healthy, productive and
joy-filled gay/lesbian lives!
There are six major steps to recovering from Black Gay Depression.
The first three steps are listed below:
1. Understand Depression
Everyone has instances where they're feeling down at times.
However, persistent symptoms of sadness, lost of interest,
thought of suicide, or even changes in appetite, sleep patterns,
and loss of energy lasting for weeks, months or even years
are characteristics of clinical depression, also called major
Depression can affect anyone from all ages, from young children
to the elderly, regardless of ethnicity, or socioeconomic
backgrounds. Although many external events, such as homophobia,
racism, school and job stress can cause it, there are also
physical changes in the body that can trigger it as well.
It is estimated that between 20-32 million people in the
United States alone will experience major depressive disorder
or depression within their lifetime. Depression is NOT a sign
of weakness or a character flaw. It is a real medical condition
that can be successfully treated!
2. Admit that you're depressed!
There's an old saying that the first step to recovery is admitting
that you have a problem. If you cannot admit that you are
depressed or that your depression is prolonged and persistent,
then you'll forever be stuck in your lonely, dark closet of
denial and suffering.
Black Gay Depression can be very difficult to admit, especially
when you still cannot admit that you are gay. Even if you
do not personally embrace the word "gay", please
remember that if you quack like a duck, look like a duck,
smell like a duck, and act like a duck, then guess what? No
matter how much you may reject the term "gay," it
still does not change the fact that you are a duck!!
It is perfectly okay to embrace other terms such as same-gender-loving
or attracted, MSM, WSW, lesbian, bisexual, DL/down-low, or
"down for whatever", but please do not allow your
alternate label to stop you from admitting that you are experiencing
depression from the societal, spiritual, and political abuse
as a result your sexual orientation, behavior, or practices.
3. Make an active effort to seek help!
Help can come in many forms, fashions, ways, and methods.
No one has to know your business unless you tell them. However,
it does help to share your battle with depression with someone
you know who will be supportive, will not judge you for being
gay/lesbian, will not tell you that you need to change your
life and that you're going to hell, will not infer that you're
weak, and will not tell you to "be a man about it"
as if to say you really aren't a "real" man.
Hence, sometimes its much better to tell all your business
to a complete stranger who has no vested interest in your
life so that you can finally find the courage to utter the
words, "I'm black, I'm gay and I'm depressed."
In addition to therapy, there are drugs that can be prescribed
to assist you with your clinical depression, however it is
very important that you try and reach a spiritual/emotional
balance in your life before considering medication as treatment.
Most major corporations have anonymous based EAP (Employee
Assistance Programs) that can help refer you to assistance
for your depression, while there are gay/lesbian organizations
within your community that can assist you as well. The key
to seeking help is to be active. Passivity gets you nowhere!
In part 2 of "Black Gay Depression", we will discuss
Spiritual Reconciliation and Growth along with Self Development
and Growth as being the two major factors to overcoming Black
Gay Depression (BGD).