Cristina Zaldana

Be the best version of yourself

Bisexual Pride flag — Sept. 23 is Bisexuality Day.

Cristina ZaldanaCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Sept. 20, 2023) — September is Suicide Awareness Month, and Sept. 23 is Bisexuality Day.

Bisexuality is the attraction to both men and women, or to more than one sex or gender. This community has expanded and has added a plus, Bi+.

This allows all who identify as bisexual, pansexual or queer fluid to share in the experiences that are unique to this community vs. that of gays or lesbians.

Some may not understand the importance of all these terms. However, it is as important as your very name.

If someone mispronounces your name, you would not waste a second to correct them. This is identity.

It is a hard thing for a youth to figure out who they are. Without the right support, this journey can be even more difficult.

Mental Health Challenges

LGBTQIA+ youth experience higher rates of mental health challenges than their straight counterparts. The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQIA+ youth (ages 13-24) seriously consider suicide each year in the United States. At least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.

Seventy percent of LGBTQIA+ teens experienced symptoms of anxiety in the past year, with 50% exhibiting symptoms of depression.

Among all LGBTQIA+ youth surveyed, 81% wanted mental health care in the past. However,
56% were unable to access needed care.

Globally, LGBTQIA+ youth are 3.5 times as likely to attempt suicide. Rates of suicide attempts by transgender teens is 5.87 times higher than the average. Bisexual youth are 3.69 times as likely to attempt suicide. Minorities of color/ethnicity/race also experience higher rates.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) research shows that low family satisfaction, cyberbullying, victimization and unmet medical needs contribute to the higher rates of depression and suicidal behavior among LGBTQIA+ teens.

Approximately 1 in 10 people identify as non-straight. Imagine the isolation as a youth who can find solidarity merely one-tenth of the time with their peers. Furthermore, in the United States, homosexuality qualified as a mental illness until 1973.

Just imagine people in doubt of your gender pronouns, sex assigned at birth or sexual orientation. In a world that struggles to accept sexuality at face value, many people don’t care to care. We can save our youth from the downfalls of mental health challenges through support, regardless of our opinion. The illness is not love. The true sickness is hate.

Finding purpose

Some of us still do not know our purpose. I didn’t know my purpose for a long time. You might not think you have a purpose, or whether you are worth anything or have any say – but you do. Everyone does and we all need you.

Your heart, your love, your say, your voice.

My wish is that everyone throughout the world truly experiences the most fulfilling and joyous lives as the best version of themselves.

It’s about choice.

It’s about respect.

It’s about time.

For more information about Rainbow Community Center’s wraparound services, please go to

Cristina Zaldana is the ­volunteer coordinator for Rainbow ­Community Center. Send comments and questions to ­

Cristina Zaldana
Cristina Zaldana

Cristina Zaldana is the Kind Hearts Food Pantry manager and volunteer coordinator for the Rainbow Community Center. The well-being of mind, body and soul are very important to Cristina, who has always felt a need to help others balance and navigate through tough times. “At this point, it is paramount that we invest in each other’s well-being.”