The horrors of living in Donald Trump’s America for anyone outside his bigoted white base is well known to anyone not living under a rock. However, there is a special burden upon people of color, and, in particular, queer people of color.
In Donald Trump’s America, we are under constant threat. There is the fact that Mike Pence, who is easily the most anti-LGBTQ politician in the nation, is Vice President. This is a man who, while sitting in the Vice Presidency, spoke to an anti-LGBTQ hate group and told them that our community is “the enemy.” Of course, there are Donald Trump’s constant racist attacks that fuel the white nationalism of his increasingly violent base. People of color and LGBTQ people are most definitely in more danger in Trump’s America. In fact, there is evidence of Trump’s followers taking his rhetoric to heart and acting out violently. The shooter in the El Paso, Texas Wal-Mart wrote a rambling, virulently racist manifesto and uploaded it to the internet minutes before the shooting. He also admitted he was trying to stop an “invasion” of Mexicans. That is eerily close to the things Trump has been saying. The same is true of the man who cracked a teenager’s skull for “disrespecting ” the national anthem. The man explicitly said he was following Trump’s directives.
With all of this dangerous activity, and the heightened amount of danger for queer people of color in America, our mental health is surely suffering. However, when you live at the intersection of queerness and being a person of color, it is already absurdly difficult to find a good therapist in even the best of circumstances. You have to make sure that not only is the person compatible with you, but that they are either a person of color and/or LGBTQ themselves or are at least socially aware enough to meet your needs. After all, the last thing we need is a therapist that will make matters worse, no matter how well-intentioned. To find that perfect match, however, there might have to be a bit of trial and error. Whether you live in the rural Bible Belt or in a bustling urban metropolis, there is ignorance everywhere, and getting an ignorant therapist for even one session can be deeply damaging.
Here are some tips on Finding a Therapist as a Queer POC:
- Shop Around: In order to find a good therapist, shop around before booking so much as a single consultation. First, make a list of things you want to talk about, in detail. Remember your values, and that you need your therapist to not necessarily share them, but to certainly respect them. Make sure that whatever clinic or office you go to is explicitly queer friendly. You might want to steer clear of anything with religious overtones, due to the fact that regardless of what your personal faith is, these clinics tend to have therapists who are there to proselytize, and often said proselytizing involves much ignorance and tut-tutting about the sins of being LGBTQ.
- Be intentional: Now, on the racial front, things can get a lot more difficult- and yes that is possible, though it might not currently seem like it. While it should likely not be a deal breaker for a potential therapist to be white, you damn well better make sure they are woke. You might limit your options if you limit a provider by race, but something that we as people of color have to understand is that whiteness can equal racism – even with an otherwise seemingly progressive therapist. White privilege is hard to get over, and even some of the most progressive, well-meaning white folks have not gotten over it. Yes, this phenomenon stretches to the mental health field as well.
- Reviews, Reviews, Reviews! When choosing an appropriate provider, do not be afraid to seek out reviews. That means going outside their office. Ask friends and other therapy-friendly people you trust in your life what their experiences have been and where they looked to find the provider.
- It’s okay to move on: Also, there is no shame in realizing you are not seeing the right therapist. You owe no one a second chance or an extra visit when or explanation. The only person who can take charge of your mental health is YOU.
I personally got lucky. I am a returning student at the most progressive university in the otherwise insanely backwards state of South Carolina. We have counseling and psychiatry sessions included in our student health fees. I first had an AWESOME therapist for two years, a Black straight ally. Then, when she left the University for greener pastures, I got assigned to the head of the counseling program, and while a white lady, she was equally wonderful. She was, in fact, the one who told me that people color were being racially gaslit every day during the Trump Administration. A great indicator that she was going to be good on race issues was that one of the first things she said to me was that she was not interested in telling me how to feel about issues of race, and that I could speak as much or as little on that as I liked.
In the end, we live in a time when people of color, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized minorities are at increased risk for severe mental health issues. We can, however, make sure that the insanity we already endure isn’t increased too much. The first step in that fight is taking control of our own mental health.
Here are some queer-friendly therapist articles & resources:
Here is an online counseling page for LGBTQ folks.
**these are only suggested resources. Please note, there are no guarantees and (of course) the same vetting process on a therapist to therapist basis should still apply.
Cover photo: Unsplash