Written by: Da’Shaun Harrison
Recently I have been wrestling with an inundating amount of queer-antagonism and most of it has been at the hands of Christians. [Not so] coincidentally, I have also been struggling with severe anxiety. This revelation is not new, for me or any other queer disabled person. This is specifically for Christians.
If one claims to care at all about the mental and/or physical well-being of an individual, or individuals, but is actively and openly anti-queer/(trans)misogynistic, they should do themselves, and all of us queer folk, a favor and stop being dishonest. Being concerned with our mental health does not look like “praying for our deliverance” or “binding and loosing” our queer or trans identities. Being concerned about our mental health does not look like engaging in anti-queer/trans ‘jokes’, as these microaggressive jokes lead to the macro-aggressive material conditions of our oppression: homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, harassment, and murder. Being concerned with our mental health does not look like claiming to love us while “disagreeing” with (and thusly praying against) our right to exist. It does not look like condemning who and how we choose to love — whereby I mean ‘have sex’, because the lot of them reduce us to heartless, sex-driven beings, incapable of loving (or being loved, for that matter). It does not look like ignoring our existences, our identities, just because we make you uncomfortable. Being concerned with our mental health does not look like blaming our ills on our lack of love for/obedience to their god(s).
I am not hard pressed to accept prayers for my physical healing from people who pray against my existence; (un)knowingly contributing to my mental and physical health issues. Because while they may think that mental health is “just a spirit”, or just something that can be prayed away, the materialization of my depreciating mental health and its connection to my physical health is inextricable. Poor mental health can lead to chronic physical health conditions. In concert, chronic physical conditions can lead to major chronic mental health conditions. As someone who lives with chronic major depressive disorder, severe anxiety, and a chronic heart condition, I can attest to the fact that our all-around health is dependent upon both our mental and physical wellness. In other words, my mental and physical health are tied together and if one dares to say that they love me while damning a part of me to an eternal pit of fire and anguish, they are complicit in the worsening of my mental and physical health conditions.
Despite the ample amount of evidence that it is ineffective and dangerous, the Church continues to perform exorcisms and conversion therapy, producing more Andrew Caldwells — convinced that they have done away with queerness while suffering the ramifications of Christian domination. This form of supremacy has long been the cause for the disproportionately higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide in the [Black] queer and trans communities. Queer and trans youth suffer physical and mental abuse from their parents; working queer and trans people endure the fear of being fired if ever outed at their jobs; queer and trans women experience the fear of walking down the street knowing they can be harassed by police at any given moment, and all of this in the name of their parents’, their bosses’, their government’s evangelicalism. Through all of this, what remains true is one cannot truly be praying for my well-being if they are actively invested in systems that dominate my will/desire/capability to be well.
Queer and trans folks (especially of color) are human beings. And I’m not begging for anyone to recognize us as such or for anyone’s respect. I am, however, demanding that they stop walking in a half-truth and exist in this full truth: they do not care about our mental or physical health. If they did, their spiritual practices and interpersonal relations would change drastically.