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What matters to me this Pride month, and always.


As the month of June approached, I sent out my June newsletter in the last day of May. Two days later, I felt terribly guilty when my Monzo app logo suddenly changed to the colours of the rainbow, reminding me that I had completely forgotten that June is Pride month, thus betraying my entire community. Right? (Not really, but leaving the question mark there for effect).


Over the next few days until let’s say, today, I have been going around in circles in my head about what kind of ‘thing’ I should be doing more of to join all the businesses out there franticly waving the LGBTQI+ flag during the colourful month of June. I thought of many things, from the plausible to the ridiculous, until I arrived at the delightful conclusion that I shall do absolutely nothing more than what I already do. Thank goodness sanity descended upon me and that I managed to shake off that very sticky indeed Insta impulse of comparing yourself to others, which leaves you feeling like you’re not enough and aren’t doing enough.


This isn’t particularly the place or the time for me to raise Hell on the many problems of ’pink washing’ but instead, I will focus on what kind of things I have done / you can do to support the LGBTQI+ community all year long, instead of changing your logo to a rainbow or organising a ‘meet a gay day’ (that, I hope, isn’t a thing athough I wouldn’t be surprised if it were some place on this travelling rock called Earth).


If you found your way to this post perhaps you are already quite versed on how to support the LGBTQI+ community; perhaps you’re an existing or a yet to be client of mine; perhaps you want to make your business more accessible to our community and are trying to make it more inclusive. Or perhaps you’re here in your journey against the snowflake generation, in which case I wish you well and encourage you to read on all the same.


Elsewhere, I have already written about why being queer-led matters to the LGBTQI+ community and why I created the Olive Tree Therapies Fund for the LGBTQI+ people of Edinburgh on low incomes.


According to the Mental Health Foundation:


So, if you are also a holistic practitioner and/or therapist (or aspire to be one), here’s some things that I have done and some words of advice you might find useful:


  • Ask people’s pronouns and respect them. It’s a basic way of showing respect for other people’s identity. If you are in the business of creating sanctuary, then don’t negate your client’s reality and leave them feeling further alienated and dismissed

  • Don’t worry about being a mind reader or getting things wrong. If you do, apologise for your mistakes. It’s happened to me before that I’ve misgendered someone or used the wrong pronoun. In the end, the only thing you can do is take responsibility for your mistakes and try your best to finding your way back to reconnecting with your client

  • Have a person-centred approach and always be led by your client. Refrain from making judgemental comments (or any comments for that matter) about their lifestyle choices and bodies

  • Pay attention to micro-aggressions. These are expressions or words that often assume someone’s gender or sexual orientation, leading to making the person on the receiving end feeling othered and aggressed. For example, don’t assume that someone is looking for a ‘boyfriend’ just because they are a cis-woman. Or asking a trans person ‘When are you having surgery?’ - this is a very personal question that might make them feel like they are not valid without the surgery. Also don’t assume that just because someone is ‘queer’ that they are non-binary, are non-monogamous or are in a polyamorous relationship. Queerness can mean many things so always leave your assumptions ‘outside’ and focus on active listening instead

  • Bump up your micro affirmative behaviours. For example, if you know someone has a partner but don’t know their pronouns, instead of asking after their ‘husband’, ‘wife’, ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’, use neutral words such as ‘partner’ or the ‘they/them’ pronoun instead. That gives your client the chance to clarify, should they want to

  • Think about how accessible your business is to disabled LGBTQI+ people and what else you can do to ensure more accessibility

  • Once you’ve thought above all of the above and are confident that your practice actually is LGBTQI+ inclusive, then tell your client base you operate a safe space for the LGBTQI+ community. If you don’t, we can’t guess it. For the reasons mentioned previously, a lot of spaces can be threatening for our community so do let us know it’s ok to be us in your presence. This could be via your socials, website copy, website imagery, signage in your shop/therapy room such as lanyards/stickers/lapel pins. I’ll emphasise though that there is little point in putting a Pride flag up in your premises if you haven’t thought about the various other points in this post

  • If you feel extra committed to our community then you can think about how else you can give back. This could be via donations of money, time or anything else and to existing charities or via a project of your own such as the already mentioned above ‘Olive Tree LGBTQI+ Therapies Fund’

  • Finally (thought I most likely forgot an important point) remember that Pride is intersectional. There would be no Pride or LGBTQI+ rights without the joint effort of those of the global majority (i.e. global majority is a new term that replaces the previously used terms such as BAME, BIPOC and ethnic minorities) so reflect on how colonised your practice is. If you are interested in beginning to decolonise your therapeutic practice, I recommend that you read ‘My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies’ by Resmaa


Would you like to share how you make your business LGBTQI+ inclusive? Let us know in the comments.


Lot’s of love and safety to you all,

André

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