New Year, New Us!

It’s that time again; the end of the year is upon us, and it seems like everyone is scrambling to make New Year’s resolutions for 2019.  This year, instead of setting impossibly high standards and goals we’re ready to abandon come Valentine’s Day, here are a couple of attainable, LGBTQ-focused resolutions to help us all be our best selves in 2019.

1. Be There for Each Other

Being a member of the LGBTQ community in the South contributes a significant amount of stress and anxiety, often on top of stressors that already exist.  According to this article, LGBTQ folks experience mental illness such as depression and anxiety at a rate of 3 times more than our cisgender heterosexual counterparts. This impacts every corner of our lives and relationships. 

Being there for each other in 2019 means keeping alert to the warning signs that a friend or family member is facing severe mental instability and knowing where to turn locally for help. Since we can’t be our best selves for others if we are suffering ourselves, being there for each other starts with self-care. For help finding a local counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional with LGBTQ-affirming expertise, call us (901-278-6422) or send us an email.

2. Reclaim Your Sexual Health

At OUTMemphis, we recognize the need for sexual health practices and harm reduction from a place of dignity and without shame or stigma.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Men who have Sex with Men (MSM’s) constitute the top three categories of new HIV transmissions by a wide margin. This group includes gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men. Transgender women, especially African American and Latinx Trans women, are at significant risk of HIV-exposure as well according to the CDC.

Safer sex practices such as knowing your HIV status, getting on PrEP, getting into care if you are living with HIV, and using condoms are all tools we can use to stay healthy, and they are all available here in the Mid-South. Learn more about PrEP and how available it is in Tennessee here. If you are in the Mid-South, connect to a PrEP navigator at OUTMemphis by sending us an email. To schedule an HIV test or get help getting HIV-related medical care, contact a certified HIV tester here. Check out all of our Sexual Health programming here

3. Respect Your Elders

It’s important to remember and honor the elders of our community, the ones who came before us and have fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.  Unfortunately, LGBTQ seniors face a slew of unique challenges that don’t affect their neighbors quite as heavily.  According to this article, LGBTQ folks over 55 are far more likely to be struggling with isolation and loneliness.  If you are LGBTQ and 55 or older, mark your calendars and join us in January for Seniors OUT For Coffee, Tai Chi, and other fun opportunities to get out of the house. Can’t drive or leave home? Sign up for We Care Calls and get paired with a peer (a senior who is also LGBTQ) for a weekly check-in phone call.

For more information about how you can get involved with LGBTQ Senior Services at OUTMemphis, click here or send us an email.

4. Finding Power in Our Differences

Being a member of a marginalized group like the LGBTQ community can make it easy to forget that being a member of multiple marginalized groups can compound the issues faced. Homophobia and transphobia look different when combined with racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, or ageism… and no person fits into just one category. Our community is awesomely diverse, and LGBTQ people are members of every racial, ethnic, and cultural group. We are in every congregation, represented in every faith and religion, and come from every imaginable background.

That diversity can either be a challenge or a strength. It can feel overwhelming to join a group filled with people like us, only to look around the room and still see ourselves as apart and alone. In 2019, we can continue the challenging work of making space for people who all identify in similar ways, even when those identities are intersectional. If you are looking for ways to meet other LGBTQ people like you, take a look at our list of social groups, groups for transgender people, groups for LGBTQ youth, and groups for seniors. Not finding what you are looking for? Sign up as a volunteer and help us start a new group.

5. Loving Ourselves

Internalized stigma is something that affects most LGBTQ people at one point or another. This is shame and stigma that we take in from the world around us and begin to believe is true. It makes us hate ourselves for things that aren’t worthy of such focused negativity.  It makes us doubt ourselves, and for some it can be fatal.  According to this article, it is a common theme in the LGBTQ community. 

In 2019, let’s make the resolution to allow ourselves to live authentically and unapologetically, without shame or stigma about who we are and who we love.  The work of bringing our community together and moving forward starts from within. Need help? These holiday self-care tips are written for youth but sound like great ideas, no matter what age you are. These LGBTQ self-care ideas seem like they could work all year long. For those of us who aren’t out, here are some fantastic self-care ideas just for you. For anyone and everyone just starting out, here is self-care at its most basic. 

Here at OUTMemphis, we look forward to moving into 2019 with a renewed sense of purpose and a reinvigorated passion for the work we do.  2019 marks the Center’s 30th birthday, and we hope that with these five resolutions, you’ll have as good of a year as we are about to have. Celebrate with us!