“Last year’s pride month felt like daggers coming from all directions. So much trauma came from the pandemic, from being a black person after what happened to George Floyd and everything else that followed. As much as this is a time for celebration, that’s when the homophobes feel like they need to be heard as well…” says Rose Frimpong, 30 who is a podcast host, mother and founder of The Black LGBTQIA+ Therapy Fund.
Like many other people, Rose had a hard time processing the trauma that resurfaced at the face of George Floyd’s murder and the resurgance of the Black Lives Matter Movement. She sat down with GLAMOUR to talk through the fund and how others can help.
As a queer woman Rose also felt triggered by some of the experiences she faced due to how she identified herself. She felt compelled to do something. “I felt like I was in a really low place during that time and if I’m in a low place, other people like myself must be as well.” says Rose.
“I think that therapy is such a good guide to get yourself out of that kind of funk and just to help with mental health in general.” Rose has been getting therapy since the age 21 and she understands the power of having a handle on her mental health…
She decided to create a GoFundMe with the aim to raise £1000 so she could help send two people from the LGBTQIA+ community to therapy that would otherwise not have the means to. However, when she set up the page, the support and response was overwhelmingly positive and exceeded her expectations. In a matter of hours her fund that had an original goal of 1k had been smashed and she had over £10,000 in donation by end of day one.
She quickly realised that after receiving an abundance of support she had to turn what looked like a one off donation into a full blown organisation. Rose shares that although she was not prepared for the amount of traction the fund would receive, she was conscious that people were desperate to do something to help, being in such a traumatic climate.
“A lot of people wanted to donate and a lot of people were looking within, into their unconscious biases and they were just learning a lot. This was also during pride month as well, so I think that really helped propel the fund.” says Rose
“Allyship was a lot stronger than what we were used to. But, having said that, the fund is still open and people are still donating as we speak” she adds
Although Rose felt an overwhelming positive response, there was an element of anxiousness at play as she really wanted to not disappoint people. Rose ultimately ended up quitting her job, to dedicate time to run the organisation.
Rose wanted to tap into a space that is often neglected. A safe space for Black queer people and their mental health, and she acknowledges that the supporters of the fund can see the disparity and the urgent need for a charity like it to exist.
As it stands, statistics showcasing the effectiveness of therapy, or data on the mental health of Black LGBTQIA+ people is unknown, as they are mostly grouped under the ‘BAME’ umbrella (i.e. anyone of non-caucasian ethnicity). Rose felt compelled to do something about that too, because from speaking to people she could see that this is an important asset to have, in order to further support the community.
“We started doing some research about three months ago. So we’re still collecting the data and we’re hoping to reveal the data by the end of summer. As it stands, the stats show that a lot of help is needed. Official government bodies don’t really understand what the specific needs are for black people.” she says.
The conversation on mental health in the Black community is still quite complex and to a degree still taboo. Rose believes we should invest more into it, in order to move the conversation forward and further support our mental health and that of our loved ones. “Generally mental health is a conversation that we shy away from, in the black community. Especially those of us who have parents that grew up in Africa or the Caribbean.” says Rose.
She also believes that the language we use is not always the most constructive. “‘Get over it’ or ‘stop crying’ or ‘man up’ for the boys, are reasons why nobody really goes to seek mental health. Then when we are struggling with stuff, we end up enduring it silently.” she says.
Rose also spends some of her time recording a weekly podcast called ‘Two Twos Podcast’ with co-host Nana. “It’s important for us to speak about therapy on ‘Two Twos’ as well, because we know that we have a following and we really want to normalise the conversation.” They’ve since seen a spike of interest surrounding therapy and shared that people have reached out for advice on seeking their own therapy even if they weren’t able to do so through the fund.
Rose’s passion for therapy comes from a delayed diagnosis of depression when she was 21 years old. “At the time the help available was either take the antidepressant pills or have CBT therapy. So I chose CBT. Although to be frank, it wasn’t great because the therapist was a white straight male who just didn’t understand my needs in any capacity. However, I later found that if the person can relate to your problems in some way, or understand how I choose to identify myself, it can really work.”
For Rose, finding a safe space, outside of people that know you personally, can be extremely healing. “Sometimes it’s easier if the space is unfamiliar to you, and it’s helpful to talk to a qualified stranger.”
The biggest challenges for The Black Therapy Fund now are finding therapists: “I didn’t want it to be like the NHS, when you’re on the waiting list for years and your situation is getting worse. However, hundreds of people applied but a lot of them asked for either black or queer therapists or both. So I’m just trying to find ways to just find more therapists that fit the criteria.”
One of Rose’s wishes is to create or fund scholarship programmes so that marginalised groups of people that want to get into counselling training can afford to do so.
Rose also found that another big challenge is to turn what she thought would be a small deed into a functioning charity. “I also have to get lawyers and accountants involved, contracts… These are all the things I didn’t anticipate as well. In the beginning I was even creating the promo flyers myself and then I thought ‘I don’t have the skills for this!’, so I hired a social media person.” The Black LGBTQIA+ Therapy Fund is a small but mighty team.
As of right now, Rose dedicates most of her time facilitating the application process so that the fund is able to offer as many people as possible 12 weeks of therapy, minimum. She also has been spending time working on their Black LGBTQIA+ Mental Health study / data collection, as well as raising awareness and raising an empathetic, compassionate and kind 10 year old of her own.
If you want to keep supporting The Black LGBTQIA+ Therapy Fund, click here