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July 15, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Bent

The queer community, more than any other I’ve encountered, is good at supporting its members. There are innumerable self-organised groups where people look after each other, and we’re united not by political ideologies, or even by a common cause, but by shared experiences. Yes, everyone’s experience is unique, and discrimination within our community (think misogynistic cis gay men, or transphobic basically everyone), is a significant problem that needs more airtime, but the love that I’ve received, and the caring it inspires in response, is wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I couldn’t count the times I have sat down or cuddled with a good friend, or with someone I barely knew, and we opened our hearts to each other about our sexualities, gender identities, sex lives, emotional states, insecurities, and so on. It’s an intensely personal thing to do, and I suspect much more common in queer spaces, but goddamn is it tiring.

Something it has taken me a long time to learn is that you can be of no help to anyone if you are too exhausted to help yourself. Self-love and self-care are both critically important for you to be able to offer help to those around you, so take the time to work out what it is that makes you feel good. Maybe you need to take a shit-tonne of selfies and put them on Tumblr. Maybe you need to wank three times in a row and enter a post-orgasmic daze. Maybe you need to take a day (or way, way longer) out and read a book, or sleep heaps, or go for a long walk once in a while. Maybe you need to see your friends more, or less, or drop out of a paper at uni, or buy kickarse new shoes.

Or maybe you need to ask for help yourself. With so many people you feel you can help it’s dangerously easy to get swept up and take their problems. Check yourself once in a while, and don’t be afraid to reach out. As I said, this community has a lot of love to give.

If you’d like someone to talk to, you can contact UniQ’s Queer Mentoring programme by visiting uniqvictoria.co.nz and following the link on the homepage, or for professional help, contact Vic’s Student Counselling Service, which is free for domestic students.

This column was largely inspired by a workshop from the amazing and wonderful group School’s Out, which works with queer youth to make the world a significantly better place. Email queer_schools_out@hotmail.com if you want to learn more or volunteer!

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