June is Pride Month in the United States, an occasion to honor and celebrate the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals. Many other countries hold Pride celebrations throughout the year, too.
Yet there are some countries where homosexuality remains illegal, and the lives of LGBTQIA+ people there are in danger, which makes achieving personal wellness far more difficult.
WRAP is an inclusive program that is open to anyone who has the desire to make WRAP tools part of their daily lives. We support our LGBTQIA+ WRAPers and are honored to share two articles from WRAP Facilitators who are part of the queer community.
By Stacey H. Keller, CPS, WRAP Facilitator, Fellowship Health Resources
I am a 60-year-old Jewish lesbian from New York who is grateful to be in recovery from anxiety and depression for 15 years now.
Up until 5 years ago, on any given day, I would have hidden one or all of those words that describe my authentic self because I was never comfortable with being any of those things. All of those come with stigma, and I was never strong enough or confident enough to live my authentic life.
Finding myself, my voice, and my path to recovery has been a long journey. Although I had many supports, friends, and family along the way, I truly didn’t see the rainbow in the sky.
In 1998, I had a nervous breakdown and tried to take my own life. After 11 days in the hospital, I began the recovery journey to who I am today. I read a myriad of self-help books, filled dozens of journals, had hundreds of sessions with my therapist (who literally saved my life), participated in many hours of group therapy, and saw many psychiatrists who gave me a plethora of diagnoses.
Really, at the end of the day, I had the answer all along.
In 2009, I attended a summit called “Soul Tribe,” which was filled with some of the most powerful women I have ever met, women searching for “something else.” I sat there that day and listened to everyone speak. I let myself be vulnerable and I made space in my heart for others’ vulnerability. I left the summit with new eyes and new motivation to rewrite my story and find my authentic happiness. I made the conscious choice to choose myself first. After being on disability for mental illness and back issues, I returned to work full time for the first time in 10 years.
I was starting to live in the picture I painted in my mind. I left a 20-year relationship with a man and began dating women. I moved into my own townhouse and started life all over again. I put myself out there and began to refer to myself as a gay woman. I told my friends, one by one, and then my adult children (of which I have 8).
Then, in 2017, I lost my dad, my dog, and then unexpectedly lost my son. The depression and anxiety returned with a vengeance, and I once again found myself home and out of work. Back to the drawing board.
This time, I fought my way back and was able to complete a WRAP. Creating my WRAP has made all the difference in the world to me. I refer to it often and so many times it has grounded me and reminded me that I can come back, but it also tells me when things are not so good, where I can go, and who I can turn to.
Living the key concepts of WRAP—concepts that I put my OWN words to, such as what gives me hope—has been paramount to my recovery. I have a wellness toolbox, both one written on paper and a literal box that holds my most treasured possessions and all the things that make me smile.
I found my way to a Certified Peer Support class and now work as a Certified Peer Support Specialist, helping others to find WRAP and find their way out and up.
In December of 2021, I had the honor of marrying my wife. I shared my WRAP with her and that helped her understand my depression and gave her the tools to help me when things are starting to break down. I am no longer embarrassed when people ask me to say “water” or “drawer” to hear my accent. I no longer drop my Star of David into my shirt before an interview. I hold my wife’s hand in public and if she lets me sneak a little kiss, I will. Today, I am proud to say, I am a 60-year-old, Jewish lesbian from New York, and I’ll say it again for the people in the back!
WRAP: How I Came to Live My Truth
By Sirron-Ronald S. Fountain, RPS, CPRS, Advanced Level WRAP Facilitator, LIVE- Independent Consulting/Contracting for Services, LGBTQIA+ Activist
WRAP, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, supports individuals to get well, be well, and live well for prolonged periods of time.
I am actively using my WRAP to create the life that I want, need, and desire to live. I am a person who identifies with the LGBT community and am an alternative-lifestyle-living man who is a love being. Gender and sexual preference make no difference to me when it comes to love.
This is a snapshot into my life and a brief narrative on how the evidence-based practice of WRAP has created a life worth living in the LGBT community.
Sexual identity and preference were a blur for me for many years. Today’s society has proven that education about oneself is wholly needed, as well as education on the LGBT community. The LGBT community is wide and diverse; we have similarities but we are each quite different. My hope is that people reading this understand this is my personal journey; it doesn’t represent the community as a whole.
In 2006, I faced the decision of how I wanted to live and what I wanted to be known for in this world. Personal responsibility to myself became evident; I needed to educate myself on the fundamental truths that governed my life and the communities I participated in.
As a man who was identified by others as gay, or bisexual, I begin to examine where that truth came from. My truth became apparent, and I begin to identify as non-gender conforming. I am equally and equitably both masculine and feminine, and phone conversations support this. When I am contacted by someone who does not know me, they call me “madame” without reason—even when I have identified myself as Sirron-Ronald S. Fountain. I have come to accept that when in an all-male environment, I will display attributes that are feminine, and vice versa.
Throughout life, I tried to fit into one of society’s categories and I found I did not match. So I decided to live in my truth, even if it killed me. And that brings me to WRAP.
I use the WRAP key concepts of wellness and recovery to define who I am and manifest the LGBT image through my life:
Hope: I am hopeful that I can continue to live without the stigmatizing label of being gay or bisexual just to satisfy society. I am me, and I am more than meets the eye.
Personal Responsibility: As a man in society, my response is that communities do not define me or who I identify with. However, I can educate others about my personal beliefs, values, standards, ideas, and the concepts that govern me as I strive to impact this world for good.
Education: I love education because it leads to facts and truths that help us move away from judgmental opinions of others, stigma, trauma, racism, and stereotypes. Education has been an astounding factor in my life, as I am responsible for my experience. I want to live holistically well.
Self-Advocacy: Learning to use my voice again, after being put in a box I could not fit into, led to many self-harm practices that took years to break and remove. Finding a spiritual faith in which I could have relational experiences that supported who I am and could become meant abandoning some truths that no longer had factual substance in my life. Today, I am confident in the man that I am, and I have used my voice to become a voice for the voiceless.
Support: Learning to support myself in weakness has supported me to find strength in others who forge a similar path. Now I carry a torch to help others. I am a consistent support in the fight to allow all people to live in their truth without prejudice or bias from others.
In closing, using WRAP as a tool in my lifestyle choice says I am confident in speaking to the real injustices that my brothers and sisters in life face.
We are human first, so when someone identifies as LGBTQIA+, please do not look at them and judge the life they live. I hope people will attempt to understand more about how others come to live in the choice and truth they present.