Navigating different spaces: Peter's story
Peter has been living with chronic depression and anxiety for almost 10 years. In this blog, he talks about his experiences as a member of the LGBT+ community and what impact those had on his mental health.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community I’ve had to navigate different spaces with caution and often repress how I feel or how I want to express myself. I’ve had to question how I see myself, based on societal attitudes and throwaway comments about my femininity and the way I articulate myself. As queer people we often have to adopt multiple identities or modes. For my generation and many of those before me, there is a sense of loss in not having been able to live as our authentic selves. I also mourn the loss of those who needlessly died of AIDS, or faced such torrents of abuse that they took their own life. I’m still working through that path of grief and hope.
Volunteering for LGBTQ+ organisations saved my life.
Volunteering for LGBTQ+ organisations saved my life. As I sat on a jetty in a local nature reserve, the air bubble of hope in that lake was the belief that I could do and be more. Feeling purposeful, valued and meeting other people who are passionate about social justice, helped me to come to terms with intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation. Over that period, my career progressed in the charity sector, and it’s humbling to be able to create spaces and initiatives that allow other community members to thrive. However, doing so doesn’t come without its challenges - those thoughts of not being or giving enough persist. I’m still learning to not be beholden by my mistakes and feeling comfortable to assert boundaries.
I am so proud of how far our diverse LGBTQ+ community has come – particularly the unwavering resilience and the resistance through bigotry and fascism. It’s breathtaking to see those who continue to stand up, be counted, and to amplify the voices of those who don’t feel confident or safe to do so. I’ve also learnt that you can be a small cog in the revolution, and you don’t need to be at the forefront with the megaphone; admin volunteers translating resources, peer mentors advising on phones and artists bringing colour and life to community spaces.
As a white, cisgender man, I want to give space and security to my trans, non-binary and queer people of colour siblings. I have a lot of privilege in speaking to commissioners, having seats at strategy meetings and being surrounded by wonderful colleagues, volunteers and clients. If I don’t take that time to amplify their experiences, and to give up my seat or my slot on the podium, then we won’t affect the change that is still so sorely needed. At the same time, we need to continue to celebrate and uplift one another – I don’t want our narrative to solely focus on a shared trauma. We have a wealth of skills, knowledge and interests, which makes it a pleasure and a fortune to be a part of our community. Happy Pride!
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