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Community & Behavioral Health | Recovery | Social Change


Changing the Conversation

A.O.: After Orlando – Fragments

Inexcusable, the slaughter in this world.
Insufficient, the merely decent man.

At the Restaurant, Stephen Dunn


There’s a certain kind of loss that is supposed to accompany terrorism. A loss of innocence and the sort of sudden and caustic realization that you are not safe—that safety in this world is an illusion, anyone can have access to your personhood at any point. You’re supposed to think to yourself, How could this happen?

How to Ally with the LGBTQ Community during Pride Month


I am heartbroken over what happened in Orlando. My heart is with all those we lost, all those who were injured, and all their friends and family. I am an openly lesbian, visibly gender non-conforming person, who is an active member of the Lesbian Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA) community, and like most of the community, I’ve been struggling. I have been visibly Queer for several years now, and although it’s not uncommon for me to get weird looks, to hear homophobic things, or to be misgendered, I’ve generally found a safe place with my friends, family, and in my community.

After Orlando: Reflections on LGBTQ Solidarity

The Friday before Pulse Nightclub’s Latin Night was the target of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history (read Marc Dones' thoughts on the impact of the tragedy in Orlando), I was in Boston at Machine Nightclub’s Latin Night. At this local gay nightclub packed for Pride weekend, my friend and I danced, waited too long at the bar for overpriced drinks, cheered Latinx drag performers and gogo dancers, and left before the bar closed to get a good night’s sleep for the rest of the celebratory weekend.

The next morning, the Saturday morning before Pulse Nightclub’s Latin Night, I hurried to the Boston Pride float I was walking with and took in an unexpected sight. Of the more than 50 people already there, about three quarters were wearing sombreros, in assorted colors and patterns, ready to march to represent a prominent LGBTQ-focused organization that has no unique ties to the Latinx community.

I exchanged a few words with my friends about it. Did you know about this? Whose idea was this? Should we say something?

Honoring Diversity in Our Ranks: Language Use

The choice of words we use to identify people with experiences of mental illness, trauma, substance use, and homelessness frames our thinking and guides our actions. Our language reflects how we view other people and honor their diversity. Those served in mental health or substance use services and those who are homeless represent a heterogeneous group. The use of non-discriminating and non-stigmatizing language respects the unique strengths of people using services as well as their diversity of choices, preferences, and rights (Learn more about the importance of language in human service settings.)

The commitment to “getting it right” and arriving at a consensus on language that is accurate, non-stigmatizing, and unifying is a heartfelt goal of providers and many people participating in programs. Sometimes vigorous discussions erupt and can become contentious leading to conflicts that divide rather than unify. These controversies can lead individuals, even those with good intentions, to get so angry that they use language that results in opposition to others and start cycles of the blame game. Finding the right language is important so that we avoid unnecessary divisions and strife. We have more in common than our differences.