DEAR NATALIE: I’m struggling with all of the displays of supposed support for the queer community during Pride month that always goes away on July 1. I feel frustrated about the ways that corporations try to sell our identities back to us. At the same time, I understand there is progress happening here. But the commercials romanticizing (or just tokenizing) queer communities happening at the same time that we are being stripped of our rights doesn’t add up. I have a queer friend who works in marketing for a mid-sized corporation and they’re struggling with how to communicate about the fact that they’d like for there to be more inclusion that includes consideration for queer people in their marketing materials, not just because it’s the month of June. How can I put my feelings into action, and what can my friend do? – PRIDE IS ALL YEAR LONG
DEAR PRIDE IS ALL YEAR LONG: It is difficult to feel hopeful while seeing all of the legislation being passed at both state and federal levels that are stripping away human rights. But, it is in these moments of despair that we have to dig deep, remember our collective humanity and recognize that there are so many people standing up for tolerance, love and respect. Start local. Search online for some locally-based organizations that are doing good work in the LGBTQ+ communities and activate yourself to become more intentionally involved in these spaces. Remind your friend that while they may not be able to have the level of impact that they would like to have in the workplace, we can’t change anything if we don’t speak about it first. Continue to encourage them to make their feelings known and see if that helps to move the needle – even if it’s one millimeter at a time. In their spare time, they could join forces with you to make a difference outside of the office. We each on our own can't do everything. But, we can all do something that brings about a more equitable world.
DEAR NATALIE: My sister recently lost her husband and her teenage daughter (my niece) has been very vocal to me, voicing concern about her mother’s mental health. My niece is also reeling from her father’s unexpected death and I am trying to be of support to them both. She told me that she is worried about my sister talking about harming herself. That she “can’t get out of bed in the morning” and “is talking about really scary things.” My niece doesn’t know what to do. I’m not very close to my sister, which makes this more complicated, as we are ten years apart in age. How do I approach this in a way that doesn’t feel as though I’m meddling? I don’t want her to suffer and I want to be there for my niece, too, who shouldn’t have to navigate this. Any advice? – SCARED SISTER
DEAR SCARED SISTER: Grief is a wild ride for so many people and so many suffer alone. Our society does not offer much support or space for the ongoing process that grief is. I would continue to communicate with your niece since she is reaching out. She may need you to lean on, as well, as this is so much to process. Not only did she lose her father, but her mother’s instability would make anyone anxious. If your niece knows who her mother's closest friends are, it might be a good idea for you to reach out to her natural support system to see if they know what is happening. Do you have family that you can reach out to, as well? If either of your parents are alive, and if she has a good relationship with them, they could also be of support at this time. If she is talking about harming herself, finding professional support for her would be ideal in this situation. Perhaps connect to your own PCP to inquire as to resources for your sister. Then, the next time you visit or call her, gently mention that your niece reached out with love and concern. Remind her that you love her and that you are here for her. Even though there is a bit of emotional distance between you, that doesn’t mean you can’t work towards a stronger relationship. Acknowledge her feelings. Don’t try to “fix” it or tell her things will get better. Just be in the present with her. Remind her that help is available and she has so many reasons to live – including being there for her daughter. This is not going to be an easy path forward. There may be setbacks along the way. But having a family member to lean on is crucial right now. I hope you are up for the task in whatever way you can be, and that you can help create a safe place for her. Take care of yourself, as it can be a heavy weight to carry. Good luck to you all.
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to
Follow her on Twitter
Check out her weekly shows
“Ask Natalie” and “Facts Over Fear” on