Queering Therapy: A Queer Therapists Hope this Pride Month
I am queer, and many times in a week, I’m an angry queer. During Pride month, I’m angrier than usual. Perhaps some of it is a way for me to dissipate my dysphoria, which gets heightened during this time of the year, but I like to believe that most of it is a result of what I see and hear around me. What angers me about the current state of Pride is that it has moved from being a time of revolutionary solidarity and resistance, to a form of tokenism awarded by capitalist structures in the guise of allyship.
What that does to many of us is that, not only do we feel the need to be representations of what this capitalism has carved out for us to fit into, but also that this presentation of joy and celebration forces us to step away from the revolution that Pride is, against the very capitalism that forces us to fit into its convenience. When I say that I’m an angry queer, I don’t mean that I shy away from the joy of celebrating my pride. Of course I don’t want to be a part of a revolution where I cannot dance, but I’ve begun to question why I cannot dance on my own terms. Current ideas surrounding Pride month force queer individuals to accept, acknowledge and affirm themselves, not on their own terms, and certainly without having the rightful support of the very systems that purport allyship but do nothing in action to show it.
Why are young queer individuals being taught that they must fit standards created by cis-heteronormative, patriarchal systems of oppression, while being grateful to the cis creators of these standards and also learning the expectation that they must do all of this on their own, or else they are not the queers they must “aspire” to be?
My work as a therapist has evolved in the very short time that I have been a part of Pause. This space has not only helped me find the language in being a queer-affirming therapist, but it has also affirmed my own sense of queerness. I am grateful to my clients, for letting me be a part of their stories, their battles, their survival and their blooming. It reminds me of how important the affirmation of one’s identity can be, as I have experienced in my own time. However, my work as a queer-affirming therapist is impeded by many things, chief of all, the helplessness that it sometimes brings with it. Therapy can sometimes feel like an isolating practice, with no connection to the outer world once a client steps out, but it does not have to be, and at Pause, the hope is to make sure that it is not.
Just like the ideals of Pride month, my hope of being a queer-affiramtive therapist is to represent more spaces of unconditional acceptance, support and care, and to make radical demands for the right to live with freedom and safety. Our community should not have to be grateful for token spaces or time periods of acceptance, which it unfortunately feels like when we think of Pride month today. Queer people have always cared for one another, we have created support out of the love borne of fallen queens and slain fairies. We must not have to beg for borrowed freedom, we do not need to ask for what is ours. We deserve acceptance, care and freedom as it is our right.
My work as a therapist has made me realise that therapy is not a haven or a safe space that must exist in isolation for anyone. It is a place where people find themselves, not because they are desperate to survive, but because the burden of their survival has been put upon them, and that is what angers me most. I work hard to be better at helping my community find what they deserve and to feel affirmed, not because few people are doing it, but because that is what we deserve.
Pride is love, pride is resistance, and pride is power. Happy Pride Month!