Archive for September, 2014
On Spiritual Emergency, Shamanism, Mental Illness, Therapy, and Anti-Psychiatry Sentiment in the General Pagan/Polytheist Community
Must-read. By the way anyone who comments on this blog insisting that people with mental or other health issues *only* use spiritual techniques or alternative treatments (and shames them for seeking other treatment) will be deleted and blocked.
Alternative Title: I’m Gonna Keep Talking About This Until It’s a Generally Accepted Thing…
It happened again. Someone posted another article on mental illness being a sign of a healer being born on the Local Pagan Facebook Group with the general overarching but not direct message being that all native and ancient cultures saw it as this. Now I don’t deny that mental illness can be the birth of a healer. I’ve known too many people who have struggled with a history of it, myself included, that haven’t found themselves called to help others dealing with similar problems.
However, these articles tend to stress how society is actually the sick one, and how we need to stop shoving pills at people to fix all their problems.
Anyone who has ever been on psychiatric medication will probably tell you that pills don’t solve all the problems and most professionals are pretty…
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There are significant disparities in the quality of health, and access to healthcare between American gay men, lesbians and bisexuals and the heterosexual population. Lesbians and bisexual men and women also tend to do worse than gay men, and transgender folks have even more cards stacked against them, I’m not even covering them quite yet!
Results. Findings indicated that the prevalence of disability is higher among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults compared with their heterosexual counterparts;lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults with disabilities are significantly younger than heterosexual adults with disabilities. Higher disability prevalence among lesbians and among bisexual women and men remained significant after we controlled for covariates of disability.
Conclusions. Higher rates of disability among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are of major concern. Efforts are needed to prevent, delay, and reduce disabilities as well as to improve the quality of life for lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults with disabilities. Future prevention and intervention efforts need to address the unique concerns of these groups.
“Similarly, controlling for the disparate health-related conditions for lesbians (smoking, arthritis, obesity, and frequent mental distress) and bisexual women (smoking, arthritis, asthma, and frequent poor physical health and mental distress) only slightly reduced the disparity in disabilities compared with heterosexual women. These findings indicate that although prevention efforts for lesbians and bisexual women and men should focus on reducing the disparities in the disability-associated health conditions, unexplained elevated disability may remain for lesbians and bisexual women and men, which warrants further exploration. In addition, further research is needed to better understand other risk factors that may account for the higher prevalence of disability among LGB adults.”
LGB older adults had higher risk of disability, poor mental health, smoking, and excessive drinking than did heterosexuals. Lesbians and bisexual women had higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and gay and bisexual men had higher risk of poor physical health and living alone than did heterosexuals. Lesbians reported a higher rate of excessive drinking than did bisexual women; bisexual men reported a higher rate of diabetes and a lower rate of being tested for HIV than did gay men. Conclusions. Tailored interventions are needed to address the health disparities and unique health needs of LGB older adults. Research across the life course is needed to better understand health disparities by sexual orientation and age, and to assess subgroup differences within these communities..
Last night I went to Chic Chat, a gathering of bisexual women (trans/genderqueer inclusive) hosted by the Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP) and had a good time. I have been to their events in the past but hadn’t made it to one in a couple years, due to my many competing interests! I was excited to find out that they are going to be doing a series this year of community education sessions about racial/ethnic diversity and discussions of white privilege. We also discussed the cross-section of disabilities and bisexual community. I decided to start doing some research on racial diversity among LGBT populations and possibly bisexuals in particular.
2012 Gallup Poll: 3.4% of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender A couple of limitations are noted by the way the poll was taken: differences among the GLBT identities can’t be accounted for, and it is purely based on self-identification, not on past or present sexual behavior or other traits.
My own thought: People with other identities, such as queer, genderqueer or intersexed might not respond in the affirmative. This is much less than Americans often think, due to the prominence of GLBT issues in the media, as well as the oft-used statistic that 1 in 10 men has had sex with a man from Alfred Kinsey’s research (it’s suspected that this was a result of selection bias on Kinsey’s part, due to his interests!) It’s often been thought that it was less for women. Due to media framing and the history of the movement, it’s also assumed GLBT identities are primarily a “white” thing, sometimes even implied to be symptomatic of privileged white decadence- an effete elite. Based on the findings of the Gallup, these assumptions are quite false!
Non-Hispanic White: 3.2 Black: 4.6 Hispanic: 4.0 Asian: 4.3
Altogether- a third of LGBT identified people are non-white (33%) whereas 27% of the non-GLBT population is non-white. Also- slightly more women than men. (I suspect the number of women who identify as bisexual vs. men may have an effect on this)
Men-3.3. Women 3.6
Being gay, lesbian, bi or trans is also often assumed to correlate with going to college, and being gay or lesbian in particular is somewhat assumed to go with a middle-class or higher status. Also wrong!
High School or less 3.5
Some college 4.0
College grad 2.8
Post grad 3.2
Under $24,000 5.1
$24 k- less than 60 k 3.6
60 k to less than 90 k 2.8
The numbers related to income, education and racial diversity also correlate with the higher number of younger Americans who self-identify as LGBT-
Broken down by gender: 18-29 Women 8.3 18-29 Men 4.6
So yeah- make way for young, queer women of color- with kids! LGBT women are just as likely to be raising kids under 18 as non-LGBT identified women. More than 41% of Hispanic and African-American lesbian, bisexual or trans women are raising kids. 38% of Asian-American les/bi/trans, and 28% of whites. (I’ve also heard that queer women of color are more likely to be raising biological children from heterosexual relationships) I have also seen some stats that higher number of people with disabilities identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual (not sure if trans was included) and vice versa, particularly lesbian and bi women, and that there are higher percentages of people with disabilities in communities of color. I’ll save that for another post- this is a lot of info for now! But in short, if we want more people to come to our events, they should be affordable, at different times (not assuming 9-5 Monday thru Friday schedule) so people who work evenings/weekends/nights may attend, are kid-friendly or provide childcare if not. We could try holding events in different neighborhoods than usual and reaching out to more community organizations.
What I’ve found even more pervasive than racism in online communities- Geek, Heathen, Pagan, whatever is the highly “creative” ableist insults. Racist fucktards, and New Age flufftards. Wow, that is sooo clever! Just take apart the word “retard” add a new prefix on and ta-da! New insult! Of course just plain ol’ retard still does the trick. Look at me- I’m an autistic person that understands the use of sarcasm! And empathy for all those people you’re insulting, yes autistic people actually are capable of that too! Guess what, I actually know a lot of people with mental disabilities who have accomplished what you haven’t- graduating from high school! Apparently you’re still in elementary school because that’s kinda the maturity level you’re showing when you call everyone that disagrees with you “retard”, idiot, imbecile, spastic, etc. And in fact, plenty of kids in elementary school actually know that those words are not OK to use, and learn to treat their peers with disabilities with respect!
So, yeah internet trolls. Bring it on! Call me retard! To my face or on this blog! Then we’ll know who really are- a coward and a bully!
They tell me this is just some fake phony arbitrary “political correctness”, I’m just suppressing your right to free speech. Ableism isn’t a “real” ism, everyone loves people in wheelchairs and Down Syndrome kids! (Because they never grow up, am I right?) They even have that law that protects them- the ADA! It’s been so effective in making sure everyone can get the employment, housing and other services they need! Or “those disabled people” all get checks from the government so they have nothing to whine about. Just like Indians all get rich from casino money, right?
Calling racists stupid or crazy is also part of a misconception. People are not racist because they are stupid. They may be illogical and lacking critical thinking skills, certainly. Wanting someone else to blame for their problems- it’s the Mexicans taking the jobs away, it’s the “welfare queens”, whatever. It’s all much easier than realizing that the upper class has been screwing you over for generations by pitting poor whites against poor blacks. It’s easier to go after someone you know who’s cheating on welfare than all the millionaires that do. Because you don’t see them doing it. Out of sight out of mind.
Mentally ill people, actually rarely become violent, in fact they are more likely to be the victims of violence and abuse and this is also the case with people with autism and other developmental disabilities. And as I commented to that fellow on Wild Hunt, why would disabled people support Neo-Nazis, when after all, the Nazis went after disabled people first!
After reading some community feedback on my previous post, both here and on Wild Hunt, I’ve made some changes to the post and here are some further comments and explanations.
*Faoladh/C.L. Vermeers correctly understood my intent that the presence of “yellow signs” aren’t necessarily OMG that means group/person X is racist! Other people didn’t read my post as carefully or perhaps I was not clear enough. The entire point of this exercise was to avoid jumping to conclusions and badly supported accusations of racism and Neo-Nazism based on certain words, symbols and themes found in European culture and religious oriented individuals and groups.
*I decided to removed some references specific to Heathenry- mainly the folkish and tribalist labels- partly because I find these terms are not always used consistently by different individuals and groups. There may also be different connotations in different countries- some have noted that “tribalist” has been used as code for folkish, but I think this is mostly a U.S. American thing. I was conversing with a British Anglo-Saxon tribalist Heathen over on Wild Hunt and realized this. Another reason is that I want to emphasize that racism among Pagans is not just a “Heathen problem” it’s a problem in almost all sectors of Pagan and polytheist religions, just as with broader society. I am concerned also that unnecessary paranoia about Heathenry and Asatru may lead to other Pagans wanting to further dissociate themselves from them. I would like to see more understanding between Heathens, other polytheists and Pagans, Wiccans et al while at the same time recognizing the uniqueness and independence of these different religions. Personally I have been impressed by the positive interconnection between local Heathens/Asatru with the broader Pagan community in the Twin Cities area, though it seems in the past few years they have retreated somewhat from this involvement.
*I have been trying to “sniff out” the signs of racism in various people and organizations unfortunately sometimes after rather unpleasant run-ins with them online. Frankly, I’m not sure how much I trust organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center to investigate organizations without having a bias against Heathenry, Asatru or other European polytheist religions. I also don’t necessarily trust the claims that specific Pagans and Heathens about being anti-racist- I judge them by their actions. My journey as a progressive activist with a strong interest in my European heritage can be a lonely and delicately trod path. Many of my fellow leftists have a secular or sometimes Christian bias and sometimes a degree of suspicion towards European cultural revivalists, so I have to be careful how I present myself and my views. For one thing, I pretty much entirely avoid the subject of Israel/Palestinian conflict.
*This is not about obsessively enforcing “political correctness” whatever the hell that means- it’s a rather vague term that gets thrown around, usually by people who are mad at me for insisting that they treat others with respect and try to learn about people who are different from them. How dare I disrupt their blissful ignorance!
*There are various discussions about a type of philosophy called Radical Traditionalism, and authors that are said to support that philosophy, which is connected with the “New Right” that I made reference to- this tends to be more of a European thing, though this school of thought seems to be an influence in the U.S. and Canada as well. I don’t feel knowledgeable enough about this to comment on it too much. Some folks feel that certain Pagan bloggers/activists are unfairly targeting particular scholars and philosophers as fascists, and including the journal “TYR” in this. If Rhyd Wildermuth cares to discuss the “Rad Trads” on his blog or elsewhere, I would recommend checking out what he has to say. Though I don’t agree with everything he says politically, as a political scientist I respect the research and thought he puts into his analysis.