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Keep Our Light Shining: Queer Community Self-Care in Violent Times

We’re not okay. At a time when our biggest worry should be how to manage or avoid holiday season stress, our queer community is under attack. The Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs just before Thanksgiving now seems like it may be joined by a domestic terrorist attack on a power plant in Moore County, NC for the purpose of shutting down a local drag show. Anti-trans legislation attempts continue alongside a newer surge of attempts to restrict and even criminalize drag performance.

Sure, the Senate just passed the Respect for Marriage Act with bipartisan support, but it’s a victory that lives in the growing shadow of anti-queer sentiment among extremists around the country. How do we maintain our mental and emotional wellness when even our community spaces are threatened?

Here are some ways to manage the grief, stress, fear, and anger you might be feeling as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, even if you were nowhere near the recent attacks:

  • Allow yourself to feel. Your feelings right now are real and valid, even if you don’t have a direct connection to anti-queer attacks or locations. Give yourself space to process your emotions, whether that’s in therapy, in queer community, or on your own.
  • Connect with community. It’s understandable if you don’t feel safe going to your local gay bar or drag show right now, but joining queer groups online or even just starting a message thread with friends can help you feel less alone.
  • Re-evaluate your holiday plans. If you normally spend the winter holidays with bio family where politics or queerphobia is a concern, you might choose to opt out this time. It’s also reasonable to set boundaries with family that you will excuse yourself if they can’t respect your request to avoid hot-button topics.
  • Seek out queer-positive media. It’s important to remember the joy and beauty of our community. Movies, TV shows, music (and music videos), books, web comics, and other media that celebrates drag, trans folks, queerness, and our history and culture can be a valuable reminder that we survive and endure despite our tragedies.
  • Read LGBTQIA+ positive, real-life news and stories. Google “positive LGBTQ stories” to take a break from doomscrolling and find some real-world hope.
  • Support a drag performer. Or a trans person, or anyone else in our community; but with drag shows and venues under attack, those performers’ livelihoods are also threatened. Most drag performers have ways to give them virtual tips to help ensure we keep the art and the artists thriving. Plus: It can feel empowering to take action.
  • Ask for allies to step up. It’s emotionally exhausting to constantly battle anti-queer rhetoric AND to educate straight people. If you have straight friends who want to be allies, ask them to walk the talk by speaking up everywhere from their own holiday dinners to the comments section of social media.
  • Be gentle with yourself. It’s already a stressful time of year. If you’re feeling like a frayed wire, make it a priority to take care of yourself. Get extra rest. Cancel something you didn’t feel like attending. Eat some comfort food. Self-soothe in whatever way feels truly good for your soul.
  • Don’t feel pressured to be merry. Even if the winter holidays are normally something you love, it’s okay to admit that you’re not feeling it this year– or that you just want to scale back. Embrace anything that still brings you joy, but you don’t owe anyone a happy façade just because it’s the holiday season. It’ll come around again next year.

These are scary times, and it’s okay to need some extra self-care to deal with it. And just as people across cultures and throughout time have gathered to survive the longest night and celebrate the return of sunlight, so will our community stand strong together to bring about a new and safer day for us all.

Reach out to us if you’re in need of queer-informed therapy. Our therapists specialize in the LGBTQIA+ community in the DC-MD-VA area, and we may be able to refer you to someone in other areas.

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