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One of the reasons I love working at SAMHSA is the people I work with. My co-workers include many out and proud members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and our allies. Together, we have made tremendous progress in advancing the behavioral health of LGBT people across the country. In celebration of Pride Month, I want to give just a few examples, and offer my thanks for the leadership of some inspiring individuals.
This is a week for celebrating, supporting, and affirming lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. On Sunday, October 11, we recognized National Coming Out Day. And today, October 15, is Spirit Day, when we stand against the bullying of LGBT youth. Observances like these are an opportunity to make these young people feel safe and supported, and for their allies to take a public stand against bullying and other forms of mistreatment. We both know about the devastation that comes with rejection because of an LGBTQ identity, as well as the profound gratitude and relief that accompanies acceptance and affirmation.
Friday, we celebrated a historic occasion, as the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Constitution requires LGBT couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live, and marriages performed in one state must be recognized in every other. This ruling is particularly well-timed as it provides us with a poignant ending for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.This ruling is a major step forward in recognizing the equality of LGBT Americans. We sincerely believe the Court’s decision will further the community and family acceptance of LGBT people we see growing in our nation. This is so important because acceptance is a critical supportive factor for positive behavioral health outcomes in people who are LGBT.
“My name is Tom, and I’m a gay man in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.”Telling your truth for the first time, or any time, is never easy, but it’s an important part of finding and sustaining your recovery. Stepping out of my comfort zone took courage and a leap of faith. However, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who were open to hearing my truth, and who supported me. They supported me not just when I came out as gay or in recovery, but through all of the difficult and rewarding times that followed.