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Healthy LGBTQ+ Supports = Healthy Individuals & Community

Dr. Sarah Cronin on the positive power of supportive community, authentic living, and coming out

I grew up in a space that was pretty homophobic, anti LGBT, and I'd had these inklings and experiences... like, I'm probably not straight or my gender might be more fluid or nonbinary, but I didn't even know what any of that meant. I had no language for it. But as I became an adult and learned more and made other friends, I learned that I could be myself... and when I was, I felt better every day. Even when hard things happen or I make mistakes, I just feel more grounded... at least I'm not pretending to be something I'm not. - Sarah Cronin, PhD, Psychology Professor, BSU

Sarah Cronin is one of the organizers for Bemidji Pride and she's a professor of Psychology at Bemidji State University. She's passionate about creating a supportive community for queer people.

In this Area Voices, Sarah speaks about the boon of a strong supportive community, her own coming out story, her son’s transgender experience and much more.

…as a psychologist, I know that belongingness, like, feeling like you belong is one of the strongest predictors of health. And so the more that people can feel like they belong, the better we're going to be as a community. And so from that, I actually started a group called Caregivers of Queer Kids, and we meet monthly, and there's a bunch of us, for those of you out there listening, who are like, hey, my kids queer might be, and I don't know where to even get started. And we have community of parents who are just supporting one another. There's no judgment, however much you know or don't know. It's just a place to get some support... in a non-judging way.

She had some advice on coming out to parents and family members as well…

It is terrifying… I spent...years of deliberating... It takes so much strength and vulnerability to be willing to tell somebody something that they will be really surprised to hear and maybe don't want to hear. And so I … buttered up my mom. I took her out for a nice dinner, and I paid for it, and... towards the end, I was like, okay, Mom, I have something to tell you now… And then framing is really important too. It was like, ‘I'm excited to tell you something that I haven't told you yet because I really want you to know the real me.’ But it took a lot of crafting of the words that felt right for me to tell her because it's scary not knowing what the reaction will be.

Click on the green bubble above for the whole conversation. For support or to get involved in Bemidji Pride, visit Bemidji Pride will be August 27th at Rail River Folk School.

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Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. Since 2016, she's produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota. She's our local host of NPR's All Things Considered and CBC's As It Happens every weekday from 4-7pm.