Black Balloon Day

March 6th is celebrated as Black Balloon day in the USA and around the world. This is the day we remember the lives we have lost to addiction.
This day was started in the USA in 2015 in honor of a 38 year old father of four who lost his life to drug overdose. The day has picked popularity nationally in the United States and internationally for organizations and individuals fighting substance abuse.

Although this day is not popular in Uganda and these particular deaths are either uncommon or unreported; we recognize the mental health issues that have risen from sexuality and gender differences and the coping mechanisms that have been adopted by the affected persons. We spoke to a few LGBT persons on this subject and many of them affirm the above statement of drugs being an escape from the harsh reality of abandonment by friends and family. “I found my family at the end of the white line, I do not know if I am addicted and how far I can go and still remain safe! All I know is 5 minutes after this white line and I am not the abomination my parents convinced me I was.” Aries (not real name) told KTMG.

The issue to look into for the LGBT community is not the use of drugs as a coping mechanism to deal with homophobia, but the alternatives that can be provided to LGBT people. This COVID period has exposed the nakedness of the mental health system in our country and more importantly showed that even the skeletal systems that exist do not cater to LGBT needs. LGBT organizations have taken matters into their own hands and designed emotional well-being and mental health programs to attend to the needs of the LGBT community members and have been intentional to include mental health programs into regular organization programming. Different spaces have come up with innovative collective healing mechanisms like Kyoto’s, peer counseling, hotlines for emergency mental health sessions, yoga among so many other brilliant things.

As we remember the souls of those who have lost their lives to substance abuse, we celebrate anyone on their road to recovery! We congratulate those who received there 1 day sober chip today, we see you and we are proud of you. We also celebrate those with more than one day chips. Keep on keeping on!