June is Pride Month, a month when we can recognize the LGBTQ+ community and their achievements. I not only want to acknowledge accomplishments, but I also want to acknowledge their value as human beings. I want to bring awareness to the challenges this community endures. I want to share their strength and stories connecting you to them.
Several years ago, I received a phone call from a 17-year-old male, who I will call Jonathon. He left this message, “Ms. Sharon, my friend, said to call you. I’m not doing well. Please call me.”
Jonathan and I met for about two years. He shared he felt sad every day, with feelings of despair. Jonathan described a loving family yet felt unseen by those around him and expressed feelings of defectiveness. He made it clear he did not want his family to know he was in therapy.
Over time, Jonathan shared bullying experiences at school, name-calling, harassment about his clothing, and quiet demeanor, which eventually caused him to eat lunch outside and away from other students. His only friend was in separate classes and had a different lunchtime. He also shared he was gay and that no one knew it and requested I not say anything to anyone.
My heart ached for this young man who did not feel safe, seen, or heard. Genuinely alone in this world. His only safe place to be seen and heard was in therapy. I marveled at the courage this young man had to call me, seek help, and find his place of strength.
Today, Jonathan is thriving. As he looks back on his youth, he wishes people would have been kind, just simply kind. Kindness goes a long way. Compassion can be that one act that gives another human being validation of worth. Be the kind of person who sees, hears, and makes people feel safe.