4 Self-Care Ideas for Queer Folks During the Holidays

It Can Be Hard

The Holidays can be a rough time of the year. For some queer folks, going home for Holidays is sometimes not even an option. In a Bustle article, Marissa Higgins empathizes with queer folks by pointing out how “It's also useful to remember that while some LGBTQ[+] people are not explicitly estranged from family, they may choose to avoid or limit family interactions for their mental or physical health. This, too, is valid! What's more, coming out to family is a complicated process for many people, and just because someone is out in their daily life, or to their friends, does not mean they feel safe coming out to family.” With this in mind, let’s explore four practical self-care ideas for queer people of all ages.

 Image by Embmall.com

Image by Embmall.com

#1. Practice Healthy Personal Boundaries

What are personal boundaries? Dr. Julie De Azevedo Hanks, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker defines boundaries as “what enable us to define ourselves as unique individuals while simultaneously allowing us to interact with others. Where and how we set our boundaries moderates our balance between being a distinct individual and being interconnected with others.”

Setting boundaries are about taking personal responsibility to state what you like, dislike and it’s also advocating for your emotional and physical safety. It also allows you to belong to your self and your values and opinions while respecting others who may think differently than you.

To further expound on the idea of boundaries, Hanks often uses a fence analogy. She explains, “If your boundaries are weak, they’re like a fence without strong posts that can easily be pushed over. On the other hand, if your boundaries are too rigid, it’s as if you’ve built a high stone wall with no gate to enter or exit. Whether you’re aware of this or not, you decide what kind of a fence you’ll build and what comes in and out of your personal space—physical and emotional.”

The University of California compares different types of boundaries in the table below…

 Image by  TherapistAid.com

Hanks helps individuals detect when boundaries are weak by encouraging people to reflect on when they have feelings of resentment. For instance, when we start resenting someone it oftentimes stems from a lack on our part to say “no.” In other words, it means our boundaries have been breached and we need to be more clear to others.

For additional help with setting healthy boundaries, click here.

#2. Connect with Friends

Finding someone to hang out with is a great way to cope during the Holidays. Plan a “Friendsgiving” or see what is going on locally. Being around people who allow you to be yourself is very rejuvenating and important. Apps such as Bumble or Marco Polo are great for finding friends and connecting to people too.

#3. Read a Queer Memoir

Reading queer memoir’s can be affirming, educational and relaxing for queer folks.

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#4. Treat Yo Self!

Give yourself permission to spoil yourself this Holiday season by taking the day off, eating at your favorite restaurant, going on a trip just for you, going to a concert or enjoying a warm bubble bath. Treat yourself how you would treat your closest friend.

 Image by  Revelatori

Image by Revelatori

Ally Tip of the Day

Be aware of the diversity of trans & genderqueer lives. Keep in mind how these identities are part of other identities, and intersect with race, class, sexual orientation, age, immigration status, etc.*

*Tip provided by LGBTQIA.ucdavis.edu

About The Author

Sarah Bridges is a board member of FHHRP and an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. Sarah has a degree in Health Science with an emphasis in Public Health. She strives to build inclusiveness within her circle of influence. She is originally from Arizona but calls Manhattan, Kansas her home. In her spare time she enjoys attending paradigm changer book clubs with her husband, painting, hiking, yoga or playing with play-doh with her strong little girl.

SAFE Zone Allies

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Before we discuss SAFE Zone Allies, let’s define what an ally is and is not.

What is an Ally?

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an ally is "a person who is a member of the dominant or majority group who works to end oppression in their personal and professional life through support of, and as an advocate for, the oppressed population." Allies use their privilege to promote positive change in their communities and have been successful in changing the dominant culture. Allies can help racial, religious and ethnic minorities as well.

The HRC identifies what Allies endeavor to be…

  • A friend

  • A listener

  • Have their own opinions

  • Have safe boundaries

  • Confront their own prejudices

  • Engage in the process of developing a culture free of homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism

  • Recognize their blind spots and mistakes and never dismiss them or use them as an excuse for inaction

  • Believe that all persons regardless of age, sex, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression should be treated with dignity and respect

  • Recognize when to refer an individual to additional resources

  • Engage in the process of developing a culture free of homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism

  • Be responsible for empowering their role in a community, particularly as it relates to responding to homophobia or transphobia

  • Recognize the legal powers and privileges that cisgender straight people have and which LGBTQ+ people are denied

  • Support the Ally program of their university or workplace

  • Commit themselves to personal growth in spite of the discomfort it may sometimes cause

 What an Ally is NOT

According to the HRC, a positive and real ally recognizes their own personal boundaries. HRC points out how an ally is NOT the following…

 • Someone with ready-made answers
• Necessarily a counselor, nor are they necessarily trained to deal with crisis situations
• Expected to proceed with an interaction if levels of comfort or personal safety have been violated

What is a SAFE Zone Ally?

SAFE is an acronym for Students, Administrators and Faculty for Equality. Generally individuals in communities and campuses have a logo or sticker that indicates that they have been trained and are a safe person to talk to about LGBTQ+ issues and they are supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals. SAFE Zone Allies may have their logo or sticker on their door, laptop or in a different noticeable area so LGBTQ+ members will know they are safe to be around or discuss anything with them.

At KSU, this is what the SAFE Zone Ally sticker looks like:

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Training Workshops

Although workshops and training’s vary in their approaches, you can expect the training to include two parts: 1. Reflective questions and exercises to process and work through your own prejudice and internalized oppression. 2. Effective ways to respond to situations as an ally.

At HRC, their training includes the following questions to discern and pin point our own homophobic narratives:

1. Do you ever not do something because others may think it makes you look gay or lesbian?
2. How would you feel if you had an LGBTQ child?
3. Would you suggest that a person see a therapist if they came out to you?
4. Have you ever laughed at a homophobic or transphobic joke?

 HRC explains, “The aim of these [above] questions and others similar in theme are to assess personal levels of homophobia, heterosexism and transphobia. While the purpose of a program is, in part, to discourage and eliminate homophobia and transphobia, American culture is homophobic and transphobic, and you must discover in what ways you have internalized those ideas and behaviors.”

How to become a SAFE Zone Ally

Both straight and LGBTQ+ individuals or groups who are students or faculty at KSU can register here to be trained at KSU as a SAFE Zone Ally. On that link you will find details of a training on Monday, October 15, 2018.

If you are not a KSU faculty member or student, there is a self-guided training online for anyone to use. Click here for more info.

 Be sure to follow SAFE Zone KSU on Facebook

LGBTQ+ & Ally Resources

For more LGBTQ+ resources on KSU’s campus, click here

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Ally Tip of The Day

Avoid trying to convince members in the LGBTQIA+ community that you are on their side; just be there.

About The Author

Sarah Bridges is a board member of FHHRP and an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. Sarah has a degree in Health Science with an emphasis in Public Health. She strives to build inclusiveness within her circle of influence. She is originally from Arizona but calls Manhattan, Kansas her home. In her spare time she enjoys attending Social Justice book clubs with her husband, painting, hiking, yoga or playing with play-doh with her strong little girl.

A Date With Hate

A few months ago family and friends celebrated as their loved ones graduated from K-State. Each year among the graduation festivities lurks a sobering tradition hosted by the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in Topeka, Kansas. WBC is known for going on tour and picketing at places where they know LGBT+ people will be in a public setting.

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WBC show up at high school and college graduations and even at funerals of LGBT+ members who have passed away to display their zealous hate for people in the LGBT+ community. Their doctrines are derived from Calvinism and they sadly use their belief in God as an excuse for their hateful and oppressive behavior. Some of their signs held by men, women and children say, 

  • America is Doomed
  • You're going to HELL
  • God Hates You
  • Repent or Perish  
  • God Hates Pride 
  • Fag Kats 

We at Flint Hills Human Rights Projects also have a tradition--although ours is not as sobering. We show up an hour early to graduations each year to take up most of WBC picketing spot. Our presence is a bit different--we have signs that say, "Congrats Graduates!" or "Love is Love" with a rainbow flag waving in the wind as we pass out donuts and orange juice to the graduates and their loved ones on their way to commencement. A Police Officer annually stands close by to protect everyone and then leaves as soon as the WBC protesters are gone.  

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In Netflix Season 2 of Queer Eye addresses the conflict of when God or beliefs come between LGBT+ members and their families. Many parents don't know how they can accept God and their LGBT+ child at the same time. Although change is happening among families and communities, it can feel like it is happening at a very slow rate. If attending church in Manhattan, KS within an affirming and open congregation is your desire, please check out our resources.  

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And if you haven't heard it already today, know that you are enough. 

Trans Ally Tip of The Day

Don’t let transphobia/cissexism slide. Confront it as you would confront all other forms of oppression. Trans issues are rarely discussed & when they are it is often in a negative light. Click on this link to learn some more ally tips. 

About the Author

Sarah Bridges is a board member of FHHRP and an ally of the LGBTQIA community. Sarah has a degree in Health Science with an emphasis in Public Health. She strives to build inclusiveness in her church and community. She is originally from Arizona but calls Manhattan, Kansas her home. In her spare time she enjoys hosting book clubs with her husband, painting, hiking, researching family science or playing with play-doh with her strong little girl.

Board Member Spotlight

Spotlight

Activism comes in all shapes and sizes. No matter what our backgrounds or temperaments are, we all have something to contribute to our communities in smallish or large ways. Activism can be a petrifying task, but once a cause enters into our heart it's hard to ignore it. Remember, not all activists are the same. We can all do activism in our own way--the important thing to keep in mind is that we do something. 

This month I wanted to take an opportunity to spotlight one of our board members, Eric Roberts. Eric is presently one of the Co-Chairs of FHHRP. Eric was gracious enough to share with me a little about him and his activist efforts.  

A little About Eric

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"I grew up in East Tennessee on a tobacco farm in the Appalachian Mountains 45 minutes from the best place on Earth, Dolly Parton's Dollywood. I love spending time outdoors more about our world. I have a community garden plot here where I grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers to share with friends. Cooking is also a huge passion of mine. I love to try new recipes and foods. Nothing beats fresh veggies from the garden. My partner, Kent and I moved to Manhattan in 2015 as he is a graduate student getting his PhD in Ecology from K-State. I'm also very passionate about providing people the tools and support to live their best life. I will also never turn down an opportunity to meet and hang out with anyone. I love meeting new people. I believe that each person has such a great story and I love hearing about them."

What advice do you have for loved ones of the LGBTQ+ community?

 "Recognize that no one understands our experiences better than we [members of the queer community] do." 

Activism is daunting for most people. Why did you decide to become involved with Flint Hills Human Rights Projects? What motivated you to be involved? Was there anything holding you back? If so what gave you the extra ounce of courage?

"When we first moved here we had a bit of a bumpy welcome to Manhattan when a landlord tiptoed around the subject of renting to a gay couple and how it wasn't something they were comfortable with. It definitely put some apprehension into our minds about where we had moved. Then we found out about the work that was going on for the Non-Discrimination ordinance that FHHRP was spearheading. We immediately became members and started attending City Commission meetings in support of the ordinance. I think what finally gave me the courage to want to become further involved was just recognizing there was a need for this organization in this community, and no matter what we end up accomplishing it will matter to someone, somewhere."

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What advice do you have for people in the LGBTQ+ community who desire to be involved but aren't sure how? 

"The best way to become involved if you aren't sure how is to follow what's happening with an organization you'd like to be involved with, and show up to their events and talk to people. This was TERRIFYING for me at first, but it definitely helped with meeting people and growing my network of contacts in Manhattan."

Now what?

For ideas on how to get involved click on this link. We're all in this together. Whether our personalities are fierce or gentle, we have much to offer. Feel free to follow us on Facebook to learn of current news and event in Manhattan, Kansas. 

Ally tip of the day...

Believe that issues related to oppression are everyone’s concern, not just the concern of those who are the targets of oppression.


About the Author

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Sarah Bridges is a board member of FHHRP and an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. Sarah has a degree in Health Science with an emphasis in Public Health. She strives to build inclusiveness in her church and community. She is originally from Arizona but calls Manhattan, Kansas her home. In her spare time she enjoys attending Social Justice book clubs with her husband, painting, researching family science issues or playing with play dough with her strong little girl.

 

LGBT Health Awareness

This past week was the 9th Annual National LGBT Health Awareness Week. The National Coalition for LGBT Health highlighted their purpose of bringing “attention to the devastating cycle of discrimination and health disparities that affects the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Because LGBT people are regularly discriminated against in employment, relationship recognition and insurance coverage, they are most likely to get sick and less likely to afford vital health care than their straight and non-transgender neighbors.”

The National Coalition for LGBT Health’s theme this past week was “Come Out For Health.” The theme was created to encourage people in the LGBT community, policy makers and health care professionals to work together to remove all health disparities negatively impacting LGBT people and to provide better health and well-being for all LGBT people and their families.

Dr. Mathilde Krim

                                  Image from Today.com

In honor of National LGBT Health Awareness Week, I wanted to highlight Dr. Mathilde Krim and her amazing work as an activist and scientist who helped remove the stigma of AIDS. Krim was born in Italy in 1926 and in the 1950’s she moved to the United States working as a virologist and geneticist in leukemia research.

In the 1980’s the term “gay plague” referring to a newer disease at the time bothered her deeply. It made Krim cringe when some of her heterosexual friends would talk about gay people with this disease in very dehumanizing tones. Krim noticed parallels of how people used to talk about the Jews as dirty or evil or that they deserved to die. She did not share her friend’s prejudice and decided to use her credentials to work in the lab to help people with what we now know as AIDS and HIV.

During this time she used her network of celebrities, her husband (entertainment lawyer Arthur B. Krim) and national leaders to support her in her research of AIDS. She became co-founder of AIDS Medication Foundation in 1983 and spear-headed legislative leaders to fund AIDS research along with endorsing safe-sex practices and needle exchange programs.

Krim gathered celebrities like Woody Allen, Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Streisand to help her cause by hosting a Gala for AIDS research fundraiser. In 2000, Krim was honored by President Clinton with the Presidential Medal of Freedom award.

The HIV-positive head of the New York City Counsel, Corey Johnson honored Krim recently by saying, “She has likely literally saved hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives because of what she did during the initial days and years of the epidemic.”

This past January, Dr. Krim passed away. We are grateful for her dedicated life in serving the LGBT community.

 I hope we as allies can all use our professional circles of influence by bringing awareness to our straight neighbors so that our neighbors of the LGBT community have healthier and happier lives.

Ally Tip of the Day

  •  Understand that people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual are experts on their own experience and that you have much to learn from them.

    About the Author

  About the Author

Sarah Bridges is a board member of FHHRP and although she is originally from Arizona, she calls Manhattan, Kansas her home. She has a degree in Health Science with an emphasis in Public Health. Sarah strives to build inclusiveness in her church and community. In her spare time she enjoys attending Social Justice book clubs with her husband, painting, hiking, researching family science issues or playing with play dough with her strong little girl.