It’s Pride Month! Let’s Talk Self-Care & Acceptance
June is LGBTQA+ Pride month, and the party’s already started!
All year, queer communities look forward to the gorgeous weather, the parade, and the parties that Pride month brings. Things extra loud, extra colourful, and for the most part, the whole world celebrates.
But it wasn’t always this way, and some parts of the world still aren’t quite there. The scars inflicted from historical hate and intolerance still prickle and burn in even the most liberated countries. The parades and the parties aren’t just glitter and dancing and rainbows; they have a purpose. Those who participate in Pride are doing work.
And honestly, it gets exhausting.
Living an openly queer life puts you at risk all the time, not just during Pride month. Being unsure of your safety in the world because of your identity drains so much of that vibrant soul energy that makes us who we are. There are countless people who literally cannot live as their authentic selves because it is too dangerous to come out. These people spend their entire lives in hiding, in fear, repressing and denying and hating themselves.
Even if you are openly out, Pride can be a stressful time. Just thinking about the history of Pride is a heavy weight on the mind. Being hypervisible for an entire month is a lot of pressure. Those who aren’t in the queer community are suddenly looking for ways to get involved. Safe spaces often become crowded or compromised. Queer people may find themselves having to act as an educator on queer issues more often, which is not their job.
Overall, a lot of energy is spent in the name of just being yourself. That’s why it’s so important this month to check in with yourself frequently, listen to what your body and mind are telling you, and take time to experiment with different self-care methods.
Learning to accept and take care of yourself is integral to accepting and taking care of others. Remind yourself that you are worthy and deserving of care and no one knows what you need better than you do. Your happiness is in your hands, so be proud of everything you are and the person you’re becoming.
Your Self-Care Toolbox
- Sleep. You’ll have lots of full days and late nights, but you need to prioritize resting. Life is hectic, but if you can make a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you’ll notice such a huge difference in your energy and cognitive capabilities. Parades are so much more fun when you’re awake to see them, and if you’re participating, you’re going to want as much spring in your step as possible!
- Surround yourself with your people. You deserve to be supported. Allow your friends to care for you the same way you do for them. Keep your heart open and soft towards new friends and start to move away from the relationships in your life that take more than they give. You’re allowed to be choosy about who you let into your life, and further, you don’t owe anyone any information or explanation regarding your queer identity. You get to decide what to disclose, and to whom.
- Mindful tasks, like cooking, cleaning, or creating art keep you productive and focused on doing things that are good for you. It can be so difficult to kick your own butt into gear when you’re tired, so start small. Get up, pour yourself a glass of water, and chug it back; accomplishing one little thing often gives you the momentum to keep going and tackle something else. Call up a friend and bake a batch of these healthy Almond Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies. Taking baby steps out of depressive slumps will show you just how strong you are.
- Get plenty of sunlight. Open those blinds up, walk around or sit in parks, give the Japanese art of “Forest Bathing” a try. Really pay attention to the warmth of the sun on your skin. You’ll be surprised at the way your mind and body respond to a healthy dose of vitamin D and fresh air. Parades usually mean spending extended time in the sun, so make sure you’re staying hydrated and using tons of sunscreen.
- Set aside quiet time for meditation. You might have a full schedule of parties to attend, but meditation doesn’t have to take longer than ten minutes. Allowing yourself solitary moments away from crowds does not make you weird or reclusive. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at any point, get some space from the action, sit, and breathe for even just a few minutes. Some people find that ten minutes of meditation first thing in the morning juices up their system enough to last the whole day, but whatever routine works for you is the right one.
Self-Care for Allies
If you’re an ally to the LGBTQA+ community, you play a very important role. Taking up certain responsibilities in support networks is often a lot of work. You can absolutely try anything on the previous list in your self-care routine, but here are some specific things you can do to care for yourself as an ally:
- Educate yourself, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. Knowledge is power, and when you feel equipped in your understanding of queer issues, you’ll be able to contribute to the queer community in more meaningful ways. Take time to read up on LGBTQ+ history. And, while queer people are not required to educate you, asking non-intrusive, polite questions makes it clear that you care and are interested in becoming a better person.
- Don’t put yourself in danger. Alliess often act as protectors in unsafe spaces for queer people, but don’t ever place yourself in harm’s way. There are peaceful, non-stressful ways to help protect your queer friends, like walking away from unsafe situations without escalating them. Always think before you act: evaluate whether you should speak up or simply find a way to exit. Be there for your queer friends, but take the pressure off yourself and know that heroic gestures are not expected or necessary.
- Understand your place. Allies are more than welcome at Pride celebrations, because Pride is all about acceptance of everyone. That said, being aware of the fact that Pride is about the queer community will ensure that you don’t overstep any lines. Just showing up as an ally to a Pride parade or party makes an important statement on its own, you don’t have to work any harder to attempt to become the centre of attention. Worrying about whether or not you’re being a good enough ally takes away from the time you could be spending celebrating.
Be Proud, Year-Round
Pride encompasses so much more now than it ever has before; so many new hues have appeared in the rainbow. Our generation has made some enormous leaps forward when it comes to LGBTQA+ rights, and things are only going to get better. We have so much to be proud of!
How will you be celebrating Pride this month?