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  • Finding Tribe

    Community in NYC LGBTQThis past weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of being with my tribe.  I attended the inaugural American Counseling Association’s Illuminate Symposium which, unlike the larger ACA conference held annually, was specifically and solely focused on serving the needs of the LGBTQI+ clients.  There were allies in attendance and many counselors who identified within the spectrum.  With Capital Pride and the Equality March as a backdrop to this first-ever undertaking, we all here to participate in learning more about one another and how we can better serve members of the LGBTQ community – our community; my community.

    I have been a member of the American Counseling Association since my days in grad school and I have never felt more welcomed, privileged, and excited to connect with my peers both professionally and personally.  It brought to light for me, yet again, the intense power of community and why it is so important for all of us to locate, build, and maintain our communities of support regardless of where they come from.  

    It was not lost on any of us how important it was for us to be convening in the capital during this time.  We have pivoted from celebrating the many wins of our community to writing and raising protest signs fighting to keep what was won.  We are grieving the loss of beautiful members of our community at the Pulse club shooting last year; we are reeling from the dozen trans people (most of whom were trans women of color) who have been murdered since 2017.  We are fighting to protect those most at risk in our community all while celebrating the community during the nation’s Pride Month.  The juxtaposition of parades, dances, and celebrations and the remembrances, memorials and protests seems unbelievably cruel.  

    It was in the rooms at each of the workshops that attended that we were able to find room for it all.  We sat in moments of silence as we remembered, we recited the names of the people that are no longer with us, we shared personal and professional stories, concerns, and hopes, and we began – as a community – to plan our next steps.  We discussed how to help individuals that are struggling within our community and how to better support the community on a whole.  From personalized therapeutic approaches that help us better understand and work with traumatized individuals to healing community trauma to advocacy – we helped each other create room to hold it all.   

    As the keynote speaker, Colleen Logan, ended a powerful keynote address, she said simply, “Share. Listen. Lean in. Lean on.”  It is impossible to do it alone.  Now is also a time to reflect and remember who we have around us.  Who are the members of your community, big or small, that you want to thank?  Does your community fulfill you?  Who do you want to share more with?  Who do you have to listen to you?  Who can you lean on?  

    If you are having a hard time answering that, I urge you not to fret.  Know that there are people out there who want to be a part of your tribe and want you to be part of theirs. Know that you can find your tribe at any point in time, young or old, in a new city or new block.  As you change, your tribe might also change.  Now more than ever, we are finding ways to band together and protect one another.  Whoever you are out there, your tribe is waiting for you.    

    Need help getting started?  Check out the Tribe Finding post for suggestions.


    © Copyright 2017 All rights reserved.  Contributed by Deanna Richards, LMHC