It’s Pride Month, and you know what that means, tons of rainbows, company posts on Facebook, and plenty of encouragement to “be who you are”. Oftentimes, as encouraging as these messages are supposed to be, they seem to undermine some of the Queer struggles. Owning who you can be difficult in a world that has so many not-so-subtle opinions of who you “should” be and how you “should” express yourself. Below are some ideas on how you can embrace yourself written by an Elder Queer. Part of owning who you are is knowing what you need, so feel free to pick and choose what works for you, or have fun with it and create your own!
Explore who you are
If there is one thing that the global pandemic has provided, it’s the opportunity to dress in a way that makes us feel like ourselves. While this may be limited while living with family members or roommates, we choose how we show up to zoom classes, whether we participate with our cameras off, or choose to leave our mics off and communicate through the chat. This means that we can play with our expression, and experiment with the idea of how we would dress. The pandemic eases the day-to-day pressures of conforming to society’s gender norms. Whether this means wearing a full face of makeup, trying different hairstyles, or wearing a crop top under your oversized hoodie, there are more ways to explore than ever before. The Gender Affirming Clothing Swap ran through the Pride Centre has a barrier-free collection of clothing you are free to take from if you see anything that speaks to you. Find what makes your body say “yes!” whether that be through the fit of clothes, the way you hold yourself, or through new hobbies you pick up along the way.
Give yourself full consent to try the things you have always been curious about, and permission to stop at any point if it no longer gives you the right feels. Looking inward, give yourself space for reflection. Write in a journal, or a locked computer about how you feel, rent ebooks on your phone and see how the words make you feel. This is your chance to explore, and you can do it in whatever way that makes you feel safe and comfortable.
Hype yourself up
You. Are. A. Magnificent. Piece. Of. Art. Say it with me now! Now say it to the mirror, or while you twerk your booty to that new TikTok song. Dress in drag or cosplay and lip-sync to that song that you can feel in your bones, write words of affirmations on your fridge, or set them as your lock screen. Often we are taught to be humble or to make ourselves small, but love, the beauty of being Queer is to exist in between the spaces of what is expected. Be loud and be proud. In a world full of trolls, we need to have each others’, but first our own, because at the end of the day, the person who is always with you, is you.
Find spaces where you feel authentically you
While it may be challenging to gather with the community right now, there are plenty of Queer organizations working hard to ensure we all stay connected and have space to be ourselves. If you are new to group spaces, Zoom meetings may be a nice way to ease into things, you have the opportunity to turn off your camera, or leave the meeting if you get uncomfortable or feel it’s not right for you.
Spaces, where you feel the freedom to completely be yourself, can also include that special place you visit to reconnect with yourself. Revisit journaling, poetry, or any other hobby that brings joy and connection to that inner part of you.
Create your own “family” or support network
Finding people and support systems that allow you to be authentically yourself may be a challenge, but the connection can be so powerful in validating who you are. These supports can be anyone from friends, family members, the SAMRU Pride Centre, or even a registered counsellor. While it may take a while to find these supports, take time to seek out and foster these connections, foster relationships with those who you want to bring along with you in your journey and share your authentic truth.
Don’t know where to start? The Pride Centre is dedicated to fostering a safe, inclusive, and celebratory environment for people of all genders and sexual orientations. Come visit us and explore resources, referrals, and in-centre expertise on topics related to relationships, identity and sexual health. Throughout the semester we also host events and programs that promote education and awareness on campus.
Acknowledge shame, and then wave it goodbye.
Learn how to identify feelings of shame as they arise in you. Oftentimes, shame is caused by external pressures that internally make us feel angry or the need to hide parts of ourselves away. It’s okay to acknowledge that you are experiencing shame as you try new things and create a life that supports you, but don’t hold on to them and carry them with you.
Waving goodbye to shame may be as simple as verbally telling it goodbye or writing down your feelings on a plate before smashing it in the sink. Shame is complex and makes individuals feel strong intense emotions. If you are struggling and in danger to yourself or others, please seek professional help.
As always, feel free to reach out to the Pride centre at email@example.com for support or to participate in upcoming programming.