The Road to Authenticity is Paved by Transformation, And For Many, That Road Starts At Onyx Therapy Group and Ends With Self 

Aug 30, 2023 | Art Insights

Written By: Chiara Atoyebi

         Photo Courtesy of FDR Photography, 2023

“Your first relationship is the one with yourself…so be true and honest with yourself in ALL situations, even when you are afraid.”– Dr. LaNail Plummer, Queer Forty

Dr. LaNail Plummer is the CEO and founder of Onyx Therapy Group, a Black Woman, Veteran-Owned practice with a 30-member team, serving and empowering many of those who stem from and have experience with marginalization within their community and mental health issues themselves. According to the Onyx Therapy Group website, Plummer and her team employ various theoretical orientations and therapeutic interventions to achieve primary outcomes such as awareness, empowerment, grounding, and growth. Plummer is a highly decorated clinician with over twenty years of experience in the mental health field, educating individuals, communities, and organizations in transformational healing. No matter what the issue is at the root, her desire is to bring people into an uncompromised version of themselves. Causing gentle paradigm shifts seem to be in her DNA because I had a quasi-existential exegesis from talking to her.

To be clear, she is the real deal

Photo Courtesy of FDR Photography, 2023

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”–Corinthians 13:1

One of Dr. Plummer’s favorite quotes hails from the book of Corinthians where the entire chapter reflects on love. “I love church,” Plummer remarked, her softening, “I still mourn the loss of that fellowship. But it was hard when every other sermon seemed to be directed towards my sexuality.” (meaning the sexuality of the LGBTQ community.) I feel a small twinge in my heart when she says this. Most people I know sit in judgment of others who don’t go to church and erroneously equate the absence as a lack of relationship with God. 

Plummer, who identifies as bisexual, is committed to her advocacy for the queer community, which includes helping allies better understand how to support their friends and loved ones. As a wife to Megan Marcano and a mother of two teenagers (a boy and a girl) from a previous relationship, her family and their safety is paramount for her. During our interview, we spoke about the pervasive violence that plaques the LGBTQ community, especially people of color. 

“I’ve considered moving my family abroad just so we can have a normal life,” she said. 

When people think of bisexuality, I think they feel that it’s an out-of-control feeling of lust for both men and women and overall, they need to simply make up their minds. When in fact, it is not that. The most commonly used definition for bisexual is from Robin Ochs, who writes: “I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted — romantically and/or sexually — to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”  

Photo Courtesy of FDR Photography, 2023

My personal belief is that “what you do for one, you  do for all.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated that, an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. Therefore, if you consider yourself to be a person of good will who shepherds others into the folds of right standing and eternal love, you should endeavor to seek to understand the struggles of others and walk in their shoes. To love freely is a basic human right.  On social media and in our lives, love, is always a hot button topic. However, when it is unsafe to love, or love becomes dangerous that’s when it’s time to speak up. 

Plummer is a also spiritual woman, and often intersperses the use of the modality in her work as a way of cultivating cultural sensitivity. This is key, considering that 47% of LGBTQ individuals consider themselves to be religious, outpacing the general population. Yet, the Millennial exodus from the church is mainly due to hyper-judgments and limiting beliefs, especially regardingthe queer community.

“I love church,” Plummer remarked, her softening, “I still mourn the loss of that fellowship. But it was hard when every other sermon seemed to be directed towards my sexuality.”

Dr. LaNail Plummer

In a 2021 Pew Research survey of LGBTQ Americans, an overwhelming 92% feel that attitudes have changed for the better regarding their community in recent years. The shift in national perspective can be attributed to various factors, “from people knowing and interacting with someone who is LGBTQ, to advocacy on their behalf by high-profile public figures, to LGBT adults raising families,” the survey revealed. Consequently, this proves there’s value in ensuring accurate representation and hearing the unadulterated truth from those who experience it daily, like Plummer herself. Yet, with all of the strides, there is still work to be done, domestically and abroad. As a global thought leader and educator in the field of health and wellness, 

Plummer’s reach also extends abroad, to those communities where people of color are marginalized across the Diaspora.

On May 17, 2023, the United Nations Women put out a press release to announce the theme: Together Always: United in Diversity, in effort to recognize the day as the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia. Currently there are  20 countries where self-determined legal gender is recognized and 58 more countries where laws are in place to protect people from hate crimes. 

“The Privilege of A Lifetime is Being Who You Are” -–Joseph Campbell

I had to know what makes Dr. Plummer visionary and successful in the work that she is doing and she boiled it down to being real and who you are. 

So, in 2014, she publicly told her truth. 

“It wasn’t until I came out on Facebook did I really see an uptick in my success,” she said. “I was 33 years old with two kids. My closest family members and friends knew about my interest in women, but I had not told “the world.”

For years, Plummer had been talking about liberation yet not feeling fully liberated in her life—she was bisexual. It was time to own it, live it, and boldly walk in it. Yes, she had children, and the father was (and still is) active in their lives, but she had found love, and she wanted to be out about it. Although some people knew about it, she wanted to be intentional about it, and that intentionality removed the invisible blockages in her life. After she owned it, she wasn’t afraid to shine the light on those dark places and allow others to walk through it

I admire her bravery. People tend to connect with the true you, and if something is hiding beneath the surface, it can be like the invisible elephant in the room that is sensed but not seen. 

If someone came out to you, could you hold their humanity in confidence and grace? Could you be an ally?

One of the ways you can be an ally if you are not already is to understand and debunk some of the common misconceptions around being queer and standing compassionately in the gap.  You can read some of Dr. Plummer’s tips on safeguarding your mental health and how you can beign instituting transformational changes on their website:  Onyx Therapy Group.