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In this week’s new episode of Facebook Watch’s Peace of Mind with Taraji, co-hosts Taraji P. Henson and Tracie Jade discuss how the dynamics at play between religion, gender, sexuality and the Black community can affect one’s mental health. 

As the latest episode’s description notes, the idea and acceptance of one’s faith and “the church” as their safe haven can become extremely confusing and difficult for those who are gay — especially in many Black churches.

Two young gay Black men, Kyree Robinson and Malik Pridgeon, discussed their mental health struggles and embracing the intersection where faith and sexuality meet within their respective identities.

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Clinical psychologist Shelly Collins further unpacked the topic from a physiological standpoint by pointing out some of the ways religion and sexuality can clash, the impact that can have on mental health and how to move forward.

According to Collins, those who feel unaccepted for who they are have an increased likelihood of suffering from depression, suicide and illegal substance abuse.

“You see an increase esspecially in the LGBTQ population because you’re told that something is fundamentally wrong with you,” Collins explained. “And then, being Black and male in America — where you’re not appreciated or validated or you’re seen as criminal — society is telling you that being Black there’s something wrong with you and then you’re family is saying you being gay means there’s something wrong with you.”

“These are all stigmatized identities, which means that now you’re navigating multiple sources of being discriminated against,” the psychologist added.

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In terms of getting support, Collins suggested that those struggling with the cross section of their sexuality and faith should seek out “neutral, loving [and] supportive” people.

“Well, I would say you can see a therapist, right?” the psychologist said. “But outside of seeing a therapist, a coach, a mentor, a pastor — because there are pastors, you know, that are inclusive. There are churches that are inclusive. [Approaching] a friend… but you want to initially start with, who is my support? You don’t need many. You just need maybe one. So, figure out who is the person or persons that I can start with. And then work yourself up from there.” 

Watch the full episode via Facebook Watch here.

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