African-American lesbian writer Audre Lorde once said,
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” That was back in 1988 and it still rings true today. Self-care isn’t something you just do to get by. It’s also how you take your power back from the abuse, hate, injustice, inequality, microaggressions, shame, judgment, sexual assault, and being misunderstood.
The world can be an unsafe place for the LGBTQ+ community. By choosing to adopt self-care you are saying to yourself, “I matter. I’m here. I’m taking up my space and I’m worth taking care of.” No matter how loud and cruel the external environment is, your internal environment can be peaceful and safe.
I know how big of a buzzword #selfcare is right now but it’s truly more than the aspirational lifestyle it’s made out to be of fancy vacations, yoga asanas, bubble baths, and pampering rituals. Self-care is about looking inward to find what your mind, body, and soul need especially if your gender or sexual identity is of the minority. There are struggles you face that cisgender people don’t.
Your queerness is worth celebrating and nothing screams celebration more than self-care. Here are 3 key ways to protect and preserve your mental health:
1. Consume media that portray queer joy. Movies and books are a form of escapism from reality which we all need from time to time. How the media presents queerness and tells queer stories affects how you perceive yourself. A lot of it is focused on queer suffering which is important to highlight but you also need to see or read more about happy queer people. Characters who experience true love, community, friendship, and pleasure. Seek out more queer joy because it’s bound to ignite your joy. Keep a library of comfort shows that make you feel seen, heard, and validated.
2. Find your community. Self-care is made complete by community care. You need the support and affirmation of people who love you. Community reminds us that we aren’t alone and that we can always lean on others when the going get’s tough. That may not necessarily be your family especially if they aren’t accepting of who you are. It’s okay to walk away if you feel unsafe with your family. Google LGBTQ+ organizations around you if you don’t have a community. TrevorSpace is a great place to start for LGBTQ+ youth who want to make friends, explore their identity, and find support. Here are more virtual communities and support groups.
3. Seek affirmative therapy. Finding an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist helps you explore your identity and sexuality without shame or judgment. You need a safe space that celebrates your individuality, understands your struggles, and validates your feelings. Not every therapist has the capacity to do that because they don’t have the training or experience to serve queer clients. When making your consultation calls to therapists, please be sure to ask if they have experience working with sexual and gender minorities. Therapy that doesn’t affirm who you are can re-traumatize you and harm you further that’s why it’s self-care to seek the right therapist. Gabby Cares Therapy is here to walk this journey with you
Your mental health matters. Your self-care matters. You matter. Do more of what brings you peace and joy. Less of what agonizes you. Stay away from energy that drains you. Surround
yourself with love. You are worthy of wellness. I know every new day presents its challenges but I want you to do one thing. Just one. Show up for yourself by practicing self-care.