PeerPride as Place
If you peruse this website, you will find that PeerPride offers services by LGBTQ and BIPOC people for LGBTQ and BIPOC people. My story below demonstrates why this approach is critical for the well-being of queer BIPOC folks in American society.
I grew up in an affluent white Boston suburb, which, while lauded for its ostensibly “progressive” and “inclusive” politics, felt alienating for a teenaged queer Filipino immigrant who struggled with anxiety, OCD, and depression. I did not fit neatly within my peers’ conceptions of how race worked in America: I was definitely not white and not Black, but I was also not quite Asian or Latinx enough. Moving to the U.S. was also a deeply traumatic experience. The move was sudden, and I felt ripped away from my family back home. I also struggled with the knowledge that they continued to live in impoverished conditions, directly caused and maintained by American imperialism, while I lived comfortably in the belly of the beast. In short, I felt “placeless”: even for well-meaning queer friends my lived experience was a question mark that they occasionally regarded with curiosity but mostly ignored. In retrospect, I think I grew up believing that queerness was something for white people and Americans of color, not for placeless people like me.
This sense of placelessness was exacerbated by white mental health professionals, who approached therapy from a eurocentric, cisnormative, and heteronormative standpoint. When I insisted to therapists that the ways I experience anxiety, depression, and OCD are conditioned by my diasporic trauma, queerness, and postcolonial status as a Filipino person, they redirected our conversations towards individualistic models of well-being and refused to acknowledge the social roots of my troubles. This had deleterious effects on my mental health: the sense of placelessness morphed into desperation, into grasping at anything that momentarily distracted me from the contradictions of my being.
I am in a much better place now. I have access to quality mental health care and a supportive community of peers who make me feel like I belong. But getting here was difficult, and I would have appreciated – indeed I needed – a service like PeerPride at my lowest points. I am proud and excited to share my expertise with this organization, so that LGBTQ and BIPOC folks might feel heard and understood. So that everyone feels like they have a place.