“We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” – Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin was one of the closest associates of Martin Luther King and an important figure in the civil rights movement. Rustin campaigned not only for the rights of African Americans but also the rights of the LGBTQ community. Rustin urged those who felt afraid to speak up and to take action.

This quote really resonates with me as I have over the years developed a skill of engaging with people in a warm and gentle way who may not agree, understand, or accept me, an angelic trouble maker if you will.  

My name is Lou Lee and I am the LGBTQ+ Lead substance misuse and recovery worker in Portsmouth. I will be offering group work alongside specialised and tailored LGBTQ+ support to our clients. I believe that connection is the firm foundation upon which all relationships are built. The best way to start this is with an open conversation. I have been asked why my job exists, and that’s a good question. Let’s talk about that!

Stonewall published figures that showed drug use in LGBTQ+ communities, at least once a month was around 9% whereas in non-LGBTQ+ communities were round 2.6%. I could list a huge load of statistics here and they will all show the same thing that alcohol and substance misuse is considerably higher across all demographics of the LGBTQ+ community compared to non-LGBTQ+ folks. So why is that?

There are many reasons and these include mental health and stigma, social environment, trauma (rates of trauma are higher in the LGBTQ+ population), lack of tailored health services, gender identity and intersectionality. We could unpack all of these here but unfortunately, I don’t think we have the space. However, these are all good jumping off points for the conversations we should be having. I want to have those conversations, preferably over a decent coffee and a chocolate biscuit.  

I would love to talk to as many people as possible at SSJ, colleagues and clients alike, you should feel comfortable to speak with me, and my hope is that you do. Through conversation and discussion we become a better organisation because marginalised people have, for too long, been used as a way of dividing us. It’s ok not to have all the answers or not understand something, the beauty of life lies in constantly learning and growing. And what’s the best way to do that? A good chat.

Email: louise.lee@ssj.org.uk