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Saturday, March 15, 2014

LGBT Population: A Dialogue on Advancing Opportunities for Recovery from Addictions and Mental Health Problems

Public Domain Notice:
All material appearing in this document is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from SAMHSA,  Citation of the source is appreciated.  However, this publication may not be produced or distributed for a fee without specific written authorization of the Office of Communications, SAMHSA, HHS

Dialogue Themes and Findings

I'm a person living with bipolar disorder.  I've been in recovery from addictions to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes for more then 10 years now, and I tested HIV positive in 1988.  I'm a suicide attempt survivor, trauma survivor, and a hate crime survivor with scars.
I consider myself a MESSS:  I have Medical, Emotional, Social, Spiritual and Sexual needs, although the last S is silent.

Dear readers, in 2011 I was one of twenty participant that met in Washington DC to participate in "LGBT Populations:  A Dialogue on Advancing Opportunities for recovery from Addictions and Mental Health Problems,  below is just a sampling of the 64 page booklet.    
                                        To obtain a copy visit the SAMHSA Bookstore

In there Own Words
from the participants who attended A Dialogue on Advancing Opportunities

Special thanks to my friend and mentor Mark A. Davis one of three Co-chairs to make this happen.
Everything you want to know about Mark A. Davis

Many dialogue participants recalled the pain of family conflict and rejection ...

I spent so much of my life in trauma, in dysfunctional families.  So much of my life I spent being 
 black, being female, being two spirited.  In some places it was not even okay to be seen and not heard.

I went into foster care around age 17 because my father and I were having a lot of trouble, especially     with him knowing I was gay.  I didn't want to be home, and he gave me up to the state.  I was homeless after I got out of foster care until this year....

And others related stories of unconditional parental acceptance.

I first came out to my parents, and I was blessed that they were supportive of me.

 I grew up in a traditional home.  My father thought I would go to college and meet a husband.  I did not.      I came out of high school and met my wife.  But I was accepted and loved, as was my partner.

Many LGBT people experience the trauma and discrimination that arise-with long lasting effects from negative stereotypes.

Experiencing trauma is something that we probably all have in common.  When you combine that with issues like race, ethnicity, and poverty, the trauma really gets complicated.

I was convinced that all gay people were destined to have HIV, and I also believed that every gay person in America was addicted to drugs and was an alcoholic.  So I became most of those things.

Five years ago I was reincarnated, reborn;  I had the operation done in Thailand.  I raised my youngest daughter myself since she was 2 years old--- she's 26 now, I wasn't out, and counselors told me that if I came out as a trans person, and state officials learned about it, they would take my daughter away.

Some dialogue participants observed that the short-hand "LGBT" terminology neglects the breathe of sexual orientation and gender identity among members of these communities.

Many bisexuals are in heterosexual relationships, and many people of transgender experience identity as heterosexual.  This is an important caveat in addressing treatment issues and recovery.

In LGBT, the T is only loosely connected to the lesbian/gay/bisexual community.  Transgender is a gender
issue, and a lot of trans people don't want to be connected with the LGB because that's considered more a sexual orientation issue.

In recovery participants have found their lives transformed...

Integrating myself with my ethnic identity, with my sexual orientation, with my spirituality has been the cornerstone of my work work.  Being able to do that has become a strength in many ways for me, including professionally.

 LGBT people aren't just particularly vulnerable people who have special needs.  They also have tremendous contributions to make if they're treated like everybody else.

My partner's and my lives are built on and about recovery and what that means, both in our in our personal lives and also in the contributions we make through our jobs and to the world in general

Following an internship in an LGBT center, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to working with adults in the experience of coming out.

And many LGBT persons begun to enjoy the fruits of their advocacy and progress in achieving equal rights.

I work at the National Council on Alcoholism as a volunteer, and that began a life's career.  I've been in a number of these settings, and each time I've had the experience of finally being with my "family" and recognizing how fortunate I am to have a family of mentors and role models.

I have bipolar disorder. I'm disabled, but I work part time.  I am sober from crystal meth. I'm HIV positive.  My website is about learning, and I cycle in race events around the country to raise awareness.  I've had stories about me in three publications.  The best medicine is when I get an email from a stranger saying. "I read your article, and it's nice to know that I'm not alone."

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