Heidi N Closet. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for VH1 "RuPaul's Drag Race")
RuPaul’s Drag Race legend Heidi N Closet sent a heartfelt message to Black LGBT+ youth as new research shines a light on the specific mental health problems facing the community.
Examining responses from a national sample of over 2,500 Black LGBT+ youth, the report builds on the Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2020.
It found that Black LGBT+ youth are in some cases at higher risk of mental ill-health than their LGBT+ peers, including suicidal ideation.
Some 44 per cent of Black LGBT+ youth seriously considered suicide over the past 12 months, with the number rising to 59 per cent among Black transgender and non-binary youth.
Across all LGBT+ respondents to the National Survey, 40 per cent said they had seriously considered suicide, rising to 52 per cent among trans and non-binary youth.
“These youth are confronted with risk factors that are not only similar to those of other LGBTQ youth but are also very different, such as racial discrimination,” the report reads.
“Black transgender and nonbinary youth are particularly susceptible. We must confront systemic barriers to Black LGBTQ mental health and well-being.”
Its findings noted the “significant” diversity” in the ways that the Black LGBT+ youth community identifies.
Around 31 per cent of Black LGBT+ youth identified as gay or lesbian, 35 per cent as bisexual, 20 per cent as pansexual and nine per cent as queer. One in three Black LGBT+ youth identified as transgender or non-binary.
Heidi N Closet shares message of support for Black LGBT+ youth.
Responding to the report, The Trevor Project rounded up a roster of queer Black celebrities, including Ashlee Marie Preston, Vincint, and Jay Jurden, to share some inspiring words.
Drag Race legend Heidi N Closet stressed the importance of self-love for young Black queer folk.
“Some of the best advice I can give is to love yourself,” she said.
“Surprisingly something as simple as loving yourself can be very difficult especially since just by being yourself can cause you to be ridiculed and cause inner turmoil. Just know you are exactly who you are meant to be and you are deserving of love.”
Media personality, journalist and trans icon Ashlee Marie Preston sought to tell Black LGBT+ youth that they are “a manifestation of our ancestors’ greatest hopes, dreams, and aspirations”.
Preston continued: “Never shrink yourself or your expectations of what is possible.”
Gay singer Vincint reassured Black LGBT+ youths that they are “beautiful”, saying: “You are special, simply because you are who you are! I love you and I believe in you.”
Comedian Jay Jurden, who is bisexual, added: “From the civil rights movement to the Stonewall riots from music to TV to books… You name it!
“You are part of a tapestry of queer Black people that have made this place worth a damn. So please know that there is a huge team of people cheering you on waiting to see what’s next.”