Quarantine has increased anxiety and depression in many young people across the board. However, if you identify as LGBTQ+, being cut off from support networks, like friends and GSAs, and possibly living in non-affirming spaces, may make these intense emotions even worse. While it may feel like it, you are not alone.
If you are living in non-LGBTQ affirming environment, know this:
No matter how your family feels about you...you are still you. You are worth loving and being seen for all that you are because of who you are. Period.
Even if your family supports you for all that you are, you may still feel isolated from your chosen network of support. Keep reading to find ways to find support and support yourself through this difficult time.
OUTSIDE SUPPORT BECAUSE NEEDING TO CONNECT IS REAL
- Keshet is hosting Chosen Family Game Night for LGBTQ Jewish Teens on May 21, 2020. Join LGBTQ Jewish teens in grades 8-12 across North America for a chosen family game night! You need to register for the event ahead of time!
- Glenview Youth Services – Pride Youth Program is using Zoom to run virtual programs. They are also running virtual programming exclusively for LGBTQ+ youth. They update their page weekly, so check back for new information.
- Receive text reminders! High school age youth may join Remind by texting @pridenf to 81010.
- The Trevor Project: If you or someone you know identifies as LGBTQ+ and looking for social interaction, we recommend TrevorSpace, a safe space social networking site for LGBTQ+ youth.
If you or someone you know is in crisis:
- If you or an LGBTQ+ friend or family is feeling hopeless, alone, or having thoughts of suicide, we encourage calling TrevorLifeline 24/7 at 1.866.488.7386, texting 678-678 or chatting with a trained counselor at the Trevor Project's help page.
- Trans Lifeline: 877.565.8860
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.8255
- The Harbour Emergency Shelter: 847.297.8540
WAYS TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF WHEN YOU CAN’T CONNECT
Life in quarantine can be stressful for anyone having to deal with parents and siblings. But if you must manage how you want to express your gender with your family’s expectations, it can be exhausting. Keeping going means taking care of yourself even when you cannot connect with friends or chosen family as regularly as you might hope.
Wren Sanders, a writer, uses help from queer therapists and experts from The Trevor Project to compile a list of strategies to keep going in 9 Strategies for Quarantining in a Non-LGBTQ+ Affirming Environment.
Here are three examples:
Immerse Yourself in LGBTQ+ Culture and History
Use this time to watch movies that center LGBTQIA characters, whether documentary or fictional. You might feel like you are alone, but surrounding yourself with queer culture and history might remind you that you aren’t. Watching Netflix shows and films with LGBTQIA characters just feels good. The Half Of It on Netflix is a new favorite.
Need somewhere to start with history? These sites can help.
- 6 Moments in Queer History
- LGBTQ History Timeline Reference
- The Legacy Project (once quarantine is over, you can visit The Legacy Walk in Boys Town!)
- Queer History Instagram
Find a Secret Hideout
If you can, find a space that is just your own. Take time to turn off. Make the space comfortable, and recharge.
Cherish Symbolic Objects
Psychotherapist Laura A. Jacobs advises “finding anything that helps you hold your identity within even if you cannot show it externally.” It may be a pride pin or something that is only recognizable to you, but the object will serve as a touch-stone for you to remember who you are and reaffirm your identity.
Tips from JCFS Chicago Response for Teens
You may be feeling restless, sad, or angry. All these emotions are valid. While you may be feeling isolated, now is the time to reach out to people who care about you and affirm who you are. Stay connected with your chosen family in a way that works for you. If you need privacy to connect with a friend or a social group, but space is limited, try the following:
- Go outside for a walk and use your phone.
- Sit in a car for a chat
- If you are using a computer, use your phone and an app, like CALM, to create white noise for privacy
It took strength to figure out who you are. It takes strength to be who you are. Remember that it is that strength that will see you through this. You are not alone. If you need help, reach out.