On December 9th, stars from film, television, and the theater will come together on behalf of the IHI Therapy Center: LGBTQ Affirmative Psychotherapy Center (formerly the Institute for Human Identity) to read excerpts from “The Letter Q,” compiled by Sarah Moon and James Lecesne.
Trailer video below.
“The Letter Q” is a collection of letters written by renowned LGBT artists to their younger selves, including pieces by Michael Cunningham (“The Hours”), Colman Domingo (“Passing Strange”), and Lucy Thurber (“Scarcity”).
Among those reading from the work are Olympia Dukakis, Wade Davis, Natasha Lyonne, Lea Delaria, Pedro Pascal, Brian Murray, Maulik Pancholy, and Halley Feiffer.
The event’s invitation was designed by Dan Parent, writer and artist of the Kevin Keller comic book series, which won a GLAAD award earlier this year.
The event is in celebration of the Center’s 40th anniversary providing services to the LGBTQ community. Jamie Klassel Weiner, staff therapist and Outreach Coordinator, came up with the idea to use stories from “The Letter Q” while she was reading the compilation.
“I was crying on the train and just so moved by everyone’s journey and how they articulated their experiences,” she says in an interview with 429Magazine. “I think that there’s a realness to the people’s stories, about their past and the adversity that they faced. It’s not all glowing, ‘everything works out and it will be amazing.’ It’s real and concentrated on how hard things are. But also hopeful, with the message that you can get through your struggle.”
It also provides the organization with a chance to connect what they do on a daily basis with an event. “We can’t share our clients stories, but this is a way to share the stories of our clients without breaking rules of confidentiality,” says Klassel Weiner. “They’re not our clients, but they are our stories.”
Director Sherri Barber and fellow therapist Mark O’Connell are working with Klassel Weiner to put together a program celebrating the humor, tragedy, hope, and love conveyed through these experiences. “We want it to feel complex,” they say.
The Institute for Human Identity (IHI) has been leading the LGBT rights movement since the 1970s, and is New York City’s leading LGBTQ affirmative psychotherapy center and training institute. In 1973, the organization spearheaded the campaign to have homosexuality de-listed from the American Psychological Association’s industry-standard reference book of mental disorders.
The organization’s founder, Charles Silverstein, will also be writing a letter from IHI to its “younger self” in celebration of the strides made since its founding in the 70s.
Funds raised at the event will go to supporting IHI’s various programs and community outreach initiatives. One such program is “Family Q,” which helps LGBTQ families with support and services such as fertility, surrogacy, adoption, and information on raising a family. Money is needed for therapist training, support groups, workshops, and post workshop counseling.
IHI also works with other organizations to collaborate and provide psychological resources, like HEAT, which helps youths recently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. And this year, IHI has also collaborated with the Actors Fund to offer affordable mental health care to entertainment professionals.