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Somewhere Beyond the Rainbow: LGBTQ+ Populations and Mental Health

Updated: Jun 30

The Wizard of Oz has long been iconic in celebrating diversity and inclusion, beloved by the LGBTQ+ community for decades. Dorothy befriends a scarecrow, a tin man, and a lion who are all different but share a common goal: finding their true selves. The story inspires courage and empowerment, and the characters form a chosen family along the way. Dorothy faces challenges and dangers in her journey, stands up to the Wicked Witch, helps her friends overcome their fears, and realizes that she has the power within her all along.

I loved The Wizard of Oz when I was a little girl, and still do. I’ve long outgrown the blue and white gingham dress my grandma made for me, but I fondly remember going to the Ciné Capri for a special showing of the movie and reading L. Frank Baum’s classic book with my dad. I also had a flair for theatrics. I liked acting the story out, which included messing up the living room sofa cushions to recreate a twister as I listened to the soundtrack on my record player. I had no clue at the time about anything pride related or rainbow themed. Back then “Friends of Dorothy” and other euphemisms were used by people around me to shame, keep secrets, and perpetuate misunderstanding.

It was later when I found community and advocacy, that I became aware of the unique challenges LGBTQ+ individuals often face, particularly regarding mental health and well-being. They are not only just as likely as the general population to experience mental health challenges and trauma, but also encounter the negative impact of stigma, discrimination, violence, and internalized homophobia. Like so many teens, I struggled in school to find a sense of belonging, wanting to find a place beyond the rainbow where I wasn’t called names and I could be my authentic self. LGBTQ+ youth are at a significantly higher risk of suicide than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. According to The Trevor Project's 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health, 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.

Challenges often continue into adulthood and can be compounded by the intersection of multiple forms of oppression and discrimination. Mental Health America reports LGBTQ+ individuals are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse compared with heterosexual individuals. Additionally, LGBTQ+ individuals often face barriers accessing quality care and support.

EMDR is an evidence-based therapy that can help individuals heal from past or present experiences of violence, abuse, harassment, rejection, religious trauma or conversion experiences. This unique therapeutic approach helps the brain process and integrate these memories into the person's life story. Individuals working through the 8 phases of EMDR with a skilled clinician develop positive beliefs about themselves and their identity and increase their resilience and coping skills.

This month is all about pride and celebrating who we are. If you are struggling to find your authentic self or otherwise stuck in the gray, it is okay to need help in your journey just as Dorothy did. Remember, you are not alone, and you deserve to heal.

‘You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.'

If you are looking for more information about EMDR therapy or other mental health resources for LGBTQIA+ individuals, you can visit the following websites:

Interested in learning more about how EMDR can help you? Schedule a free 15 min consult to learn more! With offices in Gilbert & Phoenix Arizona, our therapists are ready to help you achieve your limitless potential.

p: 480.448.1076


Gilbert Location: 2563 S. Val Vista Dr. Ste 108. Gilbert, AZ 85295

Phoenix Location: 1440 E. Missouri Ave. C270. Phoenix, AZ 85014

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