DA Global LGBTQ+ Caucus Leadership:
Editorial: Democrats are good for mental health
by Fred Kuhr, co-editor
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we in the LGBTQ+ community have much to be thankful for this year. Most notably, we have a presidential administration full of allies, as well as members of our own community, instead of the hostile environment we all suffered through under the previous administration.
Many of us felt anxiety, depression and stress over those four years. And maybe you thought it was just you, your family, and your friends feeling this way.
But according to two new studies, those feelings were widespread. The conclusion? The Trump Administration was bad for LGBTQ+ mental health.
A report by Associate Professor Masanori Kuroki at Arkansas Tech University, which will be published in December in the journal Economics and Human Biology, shows that “extreme mental distress” increased among LGBTQ+ people during Trump’s rise and presidency.
The findings suggest “that the Biden Administration may have inherited higher rates of mental distress among LGBT people [than they would have] if Trump had not run and won the 2016 election.”
Another study from Adrienne Grzenda, an assistant clinical professor at UCLA, used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to compare “frequent mental distress” reported by different populations.
"A clear association exists between the 2016 election and the changeover to a decisively anti-LGBT administration and the worsening mental health of sexual and gender minority adults,” according to the report published in the journal LGBT Health.
The study also shows that bisexual and transgender people were hit the hardest by mental health distress during those years.
While both studies show an increase of mental health issues during the previous administration, all is not back to normal. Researchers agree that even while the previous president is not in the White House, “The ongoing introduction of anti-LGBTQ legislation in the states continues to expose LGBTQ people, especially children, to the risk of significant mental health consequences,” reported NBC News.
So while it’s easy to get complacent now that an ally is in the White House, we have to continue to stay involved and vote like our mental health depends on it — because it does.
(Let us know what you think about anything you read in the Newsletter. Or let us know if there’s something we should cover. Email us your feedback to [email protected].)
Editorial: Looking back at our history, looking forward to the future
by Fred Kuhr, co-editor
October is LGBTQ+ History Month, and openly gay Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline — the lead sponsor of the Equality Act, which seeks to outlaw anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination across the country — is one of the “icons” being honored this year by lgbthistorymonth.com. Another member of our community being honored as an icon is Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
In being honored this year, Cicilline and Jean-Pierre are in the company of such notable LGBTQ+ luminaries as Susan B. Anthony, W.H. Auden and Janis Ian.
This month reminds us that it is important both to look at where we are right now as a community, but also where we came from in the past, so that we may appreciate how far we’ve come and understand how far we still have to go.
Not coincidentally, October 11 is National Coming Out Day. In this month’s issue of the newsletter, Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Caucus Chair Bob Vallier looks at some of the history behind our communal coming out of the closet so that we may better understand all that we have gone through as a political movement for equality.
Part of that coming out took place 10 years ago last month. In September 2011, President Barack Obama — with then-Vice President Joe Biden at his side — signed the repeal of the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.” That policy forced LGBTQ+ service personnel to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or gender identity under penalty of discharge. Over 100,000 LGBTQ+ servicemembers were discharged under the policy.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, and many in the community were angered by this. But Clinton, who wanted a full repeal of what was then an all-out ban on LGBTQ+ service personnel, was blocked by Republicans in Congress — a situation that is nothing new for Democratic presidents who want to do something progressive in the interest of equality and justice. So a compromise was reached, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” became the policy.
What’s hard to remember given how far we’ve come is that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was indeed progress in the mid-1990s. Clinton may have given us a policy that no one liked, but it took a cultural shift over the next 15 or so years in order for Obama to be able to repeal it.
One more example why it’s important to look back in order to look forward.
(Editors’ note: As of this issue of the newsletter, Fred Kuhr and Irene Chriss will be the co-editors.)