When I first came out, it was an incredibly exciting time for me. So many suspicions I had about myself were starting to make sense. Why I felt so different became much easier to see. I was starting to feel like myself for the first time and starting to realize who my “real self” truly was. So why did I hear a nagging voice in the back of my head that said things could be better? Why after being “out” did I start to feel the like I had never left the closet in the first place?
It was only after I discovered my Queerness that these feelings made sense to me.
Queer; adjective: strange, or odd.
Though I felt more honest with myself when I came out as gay, it still felt as though there was some desire to to conform to what it seemed like my gay brothers and sisters expected. With queerness came a rejection of those societal expectations and, as a result, a closer understanding of myself. This identification certainly didn’t happen overnight. Rather, it took many years of adapting to experiences and different environments to begin to feel comfortable in this new identity.
Whether you’re super queer, incredibly gay, proudly asexual, straight, or something else, I understand how difficult and confusing this journey can be. That’s why I wanted to bring my top tips for queer advocacy. Feel free to use them for yourself, for a friend, or even a stranger in need!
Nobody knows your experience like you do.
You are the only person that is living YOUR life, so you know it best! Learn what makes you grow and thrive and incorporate it into your everyday life. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should be living your life based on their idea of how you should live it.
Find out what causes you stress and don’t avoid it.
This one may seem contradictory, but hear me out. Actively managing ongoing stress is a valuable skill to possess and sharpening that skill before major stress happens can really be a lifesaver. Find ways to manage the stress, such as taking deep breaths, going for a walk, singing your favorite song, or talking to someone that you trust.
Step up to the plate and don’t back down.
If your co-worker has made the announcement that he or she uses new pronouns, use their preferred pronouns! If you hear someone is purposefully misgendering them, let your coworkers know that’s not tolerated or cool. Act the way you want others to act towards you.
Call in, don’t call out.
When letting someone know that an action that they took wasn’t appropriate, be conscious about how you’re going about it. Calling in is a process of letting someone know that what they didn’t isn’t cool, and letting them know why it isn’t cool. Calling out is more along the lines of saying something like, “Wow, how could you be so rude?!” In this second example the person is only ‘called out’ on why this behavior was wrong, but not told how to fix it or avoid it in the future.
Be mindful of your audience, and meet people where they’re at.
Some days I feel like I could burst through any ceiling of any glass elevator I find and want to shout from the rooftops about how broken the system is. But when speaking to those that can make help create change I have to remember they’re living in a different reality than I am and are going to use different language.
Those are my quick tips for advocating for yourself and others. I hope that these tips will help you make a better work and personal environment in your everyday lives. I look forward to bringing you more tips and articles in the future. ☺
Kiani is in charge of the LITE Research Study at Whitman-Walker Health. This study is taking place at five sites across the east-coast of the United States; Boston, New York, Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington DC.
From LITE DC: We are actively looking for participants that identify as transgender-women or non-binary in the Washington, DC and local surrounding DMV area. Participants take a survey on their sexual health, get free STI and HIV testing, and then are paid for their time. Those that qualify can join the long-term study and have the opportunity to make up to $450 over the course of two years. This study is exciting because it is the first ever long-term study that involves trans-women ever in the united states and offers the opportunity to do visits at home once enrolled in the long-term study.
If you are interested in joining this study or being a part of our research, please find more information at LiteStudy.Org.