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Roundtable: Kansas City LGBTQ+ community discusses mental health as Pride month ends

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Posted at 8:30 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 23:27:46-04

KANSAS CITY, MO — June is Pride Month and for 30 days members of that LGBTQ+ community beam with pride. It’s a moment to stand side-by side and stand up to hate against any of our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. We often wear the bright colors on shirts, hats and sneakers. But the reality is some of the people in this group are fearful for what comes once Pride Month ends.

Benji Crow, transgender man: It is really noticeable when July comes around, and all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Oh.’ It feels like all of these companies were like, giving me a little shout out and I felt special.

Adam Kellogg, transgender man: After that’s over, we all kind of stop discussing pride in general. So, for people in the metro and people who know gay people or just want to be better allies, I think it’s important to continue that conversation because trans and gay people deal with issues all year round.

Issues like violence.

Maite “MG” Salazar, Nonbinary, indigenous pansexual: The amount of violence that we have towards Black trans women put us on the national map last year, and that’s horrific.

In 2019, almost 20 trans women were murdered in Kansas City alone.

BC: I have friends who fit into that specific demographic of being Black trans women, and I know that they’re personally scared. Like I’ve heard them tell me before. I don’t know if it’s safe for me to go out places.

Adam Kellogg and Benji Crow, both trans men, said the lack of acceptance can sometimes be exhausting.

AK: Every trans person I’ve ever met has a story about making an attempt at suicide or self-harm. I have tried to commit suicide seven times, when I was very young. I was 13 probably, the last time that I did it. And it is not uncommon. It is hard for trans people to deal with their own mental health when they are surrounded by people who don’t know how to address it or don’t care.

Julia Schafermeyer, gender nonconforming woman: A lot of that is because there is not a welcoming of the conflicts that truly exist and not a space to truly talk about what’s going on inside.

Schafermeyer, a gender nonconforming woman,and therapist, said there are even fewer safe havens or people to talk with.

JS: A lot of therapists are homophobic, or uneducated or they mean well, but they just don’t have a lot of personal experience in their life. They may have learned a few things in grad school, or some terminology and they might go to continuing education, but there’s still a lot of factions and fragments and there’s more public discussion. But a LGBT person coming into therapy often needs some active affirmation that the therapist will be welcoming and supportive, not just curious.

MG: If I lived in a culture where this wouldn’t be a worry of mine, I would have such a much more peaceful existence and knowledge of my safety.

41 Action News Anchor Kevin Holmes: Why are pronouns important? Well, are pronouns important? <everyone in group nods yes>

MG: Pronouns are an immediate way for you to signal to someone that you respect them and that you are there to meet them as a human being.

BC: I started wearing a pronoun pin on my apron, so I have my name badge right here. It says, 'Benji,' real big. And then right above or below, it says, 'he/him,' with a trans pride flag.

BC: Someone you know is trans, someone you know is gay. Someone you know is bi. It’s people you care about, and we’re not that different. We’re all on the same page. We all want to get along, ultimately.

KH: You said earlier, you constantly feel as if you’re in a war zone. That was pretty profound. Does anyone else feel that same way? <everyone in the group gestures yes>

The hope is by sharing their stories and offering perspective – they no longer feel they’re in a war zone. And we all can be together and proud, beyond Pride Month.