Black Gay Depression Part 1: Identifying and Seeking Help
The following is part 1 of a 2 part essay series focusing upon depression within the black gay/lesbian community.
  by Herndon L. Davis  

Racism, sexism, classism, ageism, homophobia, HIV/AIDS related illnesses, generational poverty, fatherless homes, neighborhood crime, violent gay bashing deaths, prolonged HIV/AIDS deaths.

Physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, spiritual abuse, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, sexual addition, hyper masculinity, ultra femininity, "uplift the community, don't tear it down", "further the race, don't stop it."

Spiritual guilt, community guilt, "you're going to hell," "you're not worthy," spiritual fear, societal fear, "be a real man," severe loneliness, growing older and alone, never-ending despair, and frequent suicidal tendencies.

The black gay/lesbian psyche endures most if not all of the above societal influences, thus sending it into an unusually deep, darkened, endless spiral of depression that is often never diagnosed and hardly ever treated.

I would dare to say that there are many within the black community as a whole, regardless of sexual orientation who are indeed depressed. Yet with little to no outlets for positive, non-judgmental dialogue or individual expressions, what eventually results are seas and oceans of black under-utilized, under-achieved, under-valued, and under-lived lives that can never be reclaimed.

Black Gay Depression, (BGD) is often an extreme form of depression because the triggering causes are increased by adding the element of homophobia to the list of racism, sexism, other cultural forms of discrimination, stress, strife, and physical changes within the body.

BGD is a serious and valid form of existence that is hardly ever documented or uttered into existence. Hence, it is up to us and only us to fight our own demons, and to seek the help that we need in order to live healthy, productive and joy-filled gay/lesbian lives!

There are six major steps to recovering from Black Gay Depression. The first three steps are listed below:

1. Understand Depression
Everyone has instances where they're feeling down at times. However, persistent symptoms of sadness, lost of interest, thought of suicide, or even changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and loss of energy lasting for weeks, months or even years are characteristics of clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder.

Depression can affect anyone from all ages, from young children to the elderly, regardless of ethnicity, or socioeconomic backgrounds. Although many external events, such as homophobia, racism, school and job stress can cause it, there are also physical changes in the body that can trigger it as well.

It is estimated that between 20-32 million people in the United States alone will experience major depressive disorder or depression within their lifetime. Depression is NOT a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is a real medical condition that can be successfully treated!

2. Admit that you're depressed!
There's an old saying that the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. If you cannot admit that you are depressed or that your depression is prolonged and persistent, then you'll forever be stuck in your lonely, dark closet of denial and suffering.

Black Gay Depression can be very difficult to admit, especially when you still cannot admit that you are gay. Even if you do not personally embrace the word "gay", please remember that if you quack like a duck, look like a duck, smell like a duck, and act like a duck, then guess what? No matter how much you may reject the term "gay," it still does not change the fact that you are a duck!!

It is perfectly okay to embrace other terms such as same-gender-loving or attracted, MSM, WSW, lesbian, bisexual, DL/down-low, or "down for whatever", but please do not allow your alternate label to stop you from admitting that you are experiencing depression from the societal, spiritual, and political abuse as a result your sexual orientation, behavior, or practices.

3. Make an active effort to seek help!
Help can come in many forms, fashions, ways, and methods. No one has to know your business unless you tell them. However, it does help to share your battle with depression with someone you know who will be supportive, will not judge you for being gay/lesbian, will not tell you that you need to change your life and that you're going to hell, will not infer that you're weak, and will not tell you to "be a man about it" as if to say you really aren't a "real" man.

Hence, sometimes its much better to tell all your business to a complete stranger who has no vested interest in your life so that you can finally find the courage to utter the words, "I'm black, I'm gay and I'm depressed."

In addition to therapy, there are drugs that can be prescribed to assist you with your clinical depression, however it is very important that you try and reach a spiritual/emotional balance in your life before considering medication as treatment.

Most major corporations have anonymous based EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) that can help refer you to assistance for your depression, while there are gay/lesbian organizations within your community that can assist you as well. The key to seeking help is to be active. Passivity gets you nowhere!

In part 2 of "Black Gay Depression", we will discuss Spiritual Reconciliation and Growth along with Self Development and Growth as being the two major factors to overcoming Black Gay Depression (BGD).


  Herndon L. Davis is the author of "Black Gay and Christian: An Inspirational Guidebook to Daily Living"  



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