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LGBTQ organization notices increase in demand for support services during Pride

Treehouse is an LGBTQ support group in Cincinnati
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Posted at 6:29 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 18:29:16-04

Pride month is a celebratory occasion for many, but it is also a time some LGBTQ+ individuals need the most support.

“For people in the LGBTQ community ... Pride is a very happy, wonderful, joyous time, but also knowing it's not that way for every single person,” said Dan Davidson, the cofounder of Treehouse, a nonprofit LGBTQ support organization.

Davidson noted the increased awareness of Pride is the biggest reason why more people reach out to his organization this time of year.

“Classically, around Pride, we will have an influx of people,” Davidson said. “We definitely do see an uptick of people kind of working through some things personally or maybe having deeper conversations with certain members, there’s a lot of different dynamics of things.”

Daniel Schaffer, communications director at Love Must Win, said they’ve seen an increase in donations to GLAST, Gay & Lesbians Achieving Sobriety Together.

“Alcohol is such a big part of a lot of these celebrations — they happen at gay bars, they happen at different places and there's not a lot of opportunity for people to have celebrations with sober events," Schaffer said.

Schaffer said they have also had more parents reach out for advice.

“For parents that have kids that are transitioning or kids who are coming out of the closet a lot of them they don’t know how to support their kids, so the best part of the visibility [of Pride] is it shows where the resources are and it shows where you can go to get those answers,” Schaffer said.

He added it is important for LGBTQ individuals to know they’re not alone and there are groups out there who support them.

“I grew up in a really religious family where I was told that being gay was wrong, that I wouldn’t make it to heaven … and I spent most of my life trying to be someone I wasn’t and I was miserable and I almost ended everything," Schaffer said. "And it wasn’t until I finally accepted who I was and started seeing that I wasn’t broken, I didn’t need to change and started seeing myself as perfect for the way I was that everything started to turn around.

“No one should feel shame over who they are and that’s what Pride is about; it's about letting you know you aren’t alone, and that you are amazing just as you are.”

Licensed counselor Whayne Herriford said half of his clients are a part of the LGBTQ community. He’s seen an increase in LGBTQ+ individuals seeking support since the start of the COVID pandemic. In February, he started a group for gay, bisexual and transgender men.

“I’ve got people in there who are just coming out, I’ve got people who have been for a while, so it all just gives people a chance to have sort of peer conversations,” Herriford said.

He said most of the men are between 40-50 years of age. Herriford is also one of few licensed counselors who are a part of the LGBTQ community.

“There aren’t a lot who self-identify as LGBTQ, but that is not to say you need to be a part of the community to provide services, but the best predictor of success in a mental health relationship is a connection between a client and a provider,” said Herriford.