Self-Care Resolutions for a Super Queer 2016

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As the year draws to a close, I’m getting excited about one of my favorite annual traditions–not opening presents, but thinking of ways to make the next lap around the sun even better than the last. I love New Year’s resolutions so much, y’all.

To be clear, I’m not talking about resolutions like “lose 10 pounds” or “get a girlfriend hot enough to make my ex jealous,” or other goals based on the premise that I’m not good enough yet. I like to start with the assumption that I’m already awesome, then think about what I could be doing to treat myself better. Instead of big change-my-life resolutions, I like to make a bunch of small ones that I know will make me feel good, like “read a whole book in one sitting” or “try a food I’ve never eaten.” It’s really easy to get caught up in work and responsibilities and writing impassioned Facebook rants against Donald Trump and forget to take care of ourselves, but the fresh new calendar offers a whole 366 days’ worth (it’s a leap year!) of chances to practice self-love.

And make no mistake: Being good to ourselves, especially as marginalized people, is hella queer. Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Loving yourself in a world that doesn’t love you is fighting back. The Man would prefer that we burn out, give in to exhaustion and self-loathing, throw in the towel. When we start with self-care and self-love, there is no limit to what we can do.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions for New Year’s resolutions that will help you treat yourself right, and make not only the Yuletide, but the whole year to come, wonderfully gay!

Kiss hate-watching and queer-baiting goodbye. It’s time to demand real, nuanced representation from the media we consume, and refuse to be strung along by shows that occasionally drop a hint that something queer might happen someday. If media makers want our attention and our money, they need to acknowledge that we exist and matter. So whatever show keeps you hanging on with unstated sexual tension (or even the occasional ratings-hungry girl-on-girl smooch) but never takes queer identities and relationships seriously, drop it from the rotation. Use the time you save to take up knitting, binge on Orange is the New Black for the 17th time, or hang out with the actual, awesome queer people you know in real life!

Read, watch, listen to, and support queer people. Seek out queer authors and artists. The more you do, the more you’ll contribute to opportunities opening up for other queer creators, including, perhaps, you. But this isn’t just about a rising tide that might one day float your personal boat–it’s about exposing yourself to a variety of perspectives and narratives and constantly reminding yourself of the vast potential available to you. Don’t forget to diversify within your queer art consumption, too! Check out the works of queer people of color, queer trans people, queer people with disabilities, queer people outside the US, and poor and working-class queer people. Read queer fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Watch queer experimental films, short films, independent films, documentaries. The more you immerse yourself in art and culture created by LGBTQ people, the more aware you’ll be of all the gorgeous complexity of our lives and selves.

Spend less time with homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, and otherwise toxic people. Ideally, you’d cut the jerks out of your life altogether, but sometimes you work for them or live with them or otherwise depend on them and can’t completely distance yourself. But you can create boundaries and give them less of your emotional energy. Whether it’s your sexist boss or your grandmother who refers to your partner as your “roommate,” don’t just decide that you’re not going to let them get to you–come up with a specific plan for countering their fuckery. Write affirmations to yourself and read them every morning. Balance out every obnoxious, draining interaction with something that replenishes you, whether it’s a yoga class or a Britney Spears dance party in your car. Don’t spend your precious resources trying to get them to see the light; if they don’t understand, they don’t want to understand, and educating them is not your job. And if avoiding the bullshit people altogether isn’t a simple matter of blocking their calls, make this the year you start not just hoping, but actively planning to change your circumstances. Save up for a place of your own, look for a new job, move in the direction of the life that should be yours.

Make queer friends. Your straight friends and loved ones are awesome, but queer solidarity is an important part of a well-balanced life, and you could always use more of it. Start a lesbian book club, host a queer quilting bee, spend more time with your roller derby team–whatever it takes to get out there and discover new facets of the glorious queer world we live in. This doesn’t just apply to folks who are trying to find dates, either. Even if you’re happily partnered or happily single, you could still use more gay friends in your life. If you live somewhere rural or isolated where there aren’t a lot of other LGBTQ folks, at least resolve to find a queer pen pal.

Do something visibly queer that you’ve been hesitating about. Get a blatantly gay haircut, buy a Harley, or even just hold a woman’s hand in public. Don’t feel obligated to do anything that will put you in danger, obviously–your health and well-being come first. But if you’re just nervous that people will sneer at you if you rock a fauxhawk or get those Indigo Girls lyrics tattooed on your bicep, what the hell, go for it. It’s an amazing feeling to let other people’s opinions roll off you and realize that they don’t matter because you’re living your beautiful and authentic life. Rejection and disapproval matter so little in comparison. Wave your rainbow flag high.

Get involved! Volunteer at Pride. Mentor LGBTQ youth. Call your representative. Donate to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. If you’re not in crisis yourself, do what you can to reach out to less privileged members of the community. Even if you don’t have time to give, you can resolve to speak up against homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, racism, and ableism whenever they cross your path. This might not sound like self-care, but trust me, doing good things makes you feel fucking great. Improving the world in little ways is an incredible way to show love and kindness for yourself and others. Plus, it’ll give you that awesome new-karma smell for 2016. Girls dig that.

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