Straight Up | Issue 18
This week I’d planned out my column days in advance. I’d written it quickly – the time I had was squashed beneath piles of other things. When I returned to it today, I noticed something. My words were flat. The piece was stodgy, and I just wasn’t into it. I’d tried to write about something I felt was worthy, rather than something I was really engaged by. And it showed.
So, I have shelved that other column and have decided to listen to my gut, and write about something that I can really connect to.
This column is speaking not only to queer and trans folks, but to anyone who works on projects for social justice.
It’s about self-care.
Not so long ago, I was working on projects that were important to me. They were so important, I guess, that I acted as though they were more important than me. I became merely a vessel to carry out that kind of work. Often I’d work too hard, and I’d come home with no energy, fall asleep, wake up, and then keep going. I was really “productive”, if you measured this by the hours I worked. But this pattern of making change was really unproductive personally. It also meant that the quality of my work, the thoughtfulness that making change really requires, was lacking.
I had a slow awakening that this model didn’t work for me. I realised that the important work I do around queer liberation is important because queer people are important. Queer people like me are important. And we are not important at some hypothetical moment in the future. We are important and gorgeous and fucking amazing, right now.
For me, loving myself doesn’t mean I go and buy myself crap from a gift shop. This week I did lots of things that were self-loving. I did exercise, not because I want to lose weight, but because I enjoy the feeling of my body in movement. I ate good food, and didn’t count the calories I consumed, because I believe in nourishing my body. I went to therapy, yoga class, made a date with a friend, put on a facemask, and listened to Missy Elliot as I brushed my wigs.
I did all this, ‘cause I am important. And as a side-effect I get myself in a better place to do more work.
In a world that would prefer queer and trans people were quiet, invisible and/or dead, loving ourselves and practising self-care is more than a good idea. It’s fucking revolutionary.