By Bryan Garcia (he/him/his)
People are gathering. Places are opening back up. Things are moving and folx are resuming many of the activities that they did before the pandemic. Now what? What’s next? This reality has people feeling several different ways, including anxious and/or excited. We all have questions – that’s good. How are you feeling and how has this affected you? Are we ready to gather? How do we navigate this new normal while staying safe and informed?
Many of us may have had opportunities to pose these questions to ourselves this past June for Pride month celebrations. With more people vaccinated and Austin-Travis County currently being in Stage 2, this may have seemed like the most opportune time to make plans to reconnect with our loved ones. allgo was a part of two events for Austin Black Pride last month: the first, an in-person Yoga event at Givens Park, and the second, a virtual Sound Therapy session for the community. It was so remarkable seeing so many beautiful souls centering and grounding themselves both in-person and online. It gave me a glimpse into what the future of events could look like where people have the options for something that might be more accessible (depending on your access to technology) or a face-to-face event (with social distancing, of course).
With these changes comes an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves of some valid reasons why some folx in our communities choose not to take the COVID Vaccine. These can include but are not limited to having a history of specific allergies, being under a certain age, or having a pre-existing condition like HIV. Also, it isn’t safe to assume that someone who is not wearing a mask has taken it either. It is essential to remind ourselves that not everyone has the same comfort level we may have and be mindful of our body language and facial expressions when it may surprise us that someone, for example, has chosen to or has chosen not to shake hands when they first meet people. Because of this, it is important to practice non-judgment. You wouldn’t want to make someone who is not ready to shake hands, hug, unmask or stand closer than 6 feet from you feel like they are silly for taking precautions that only months ago were very much state-mandated and necessary to lower COVID transmission. Everyone eases into the new normal in their own way, and it is up to us to respect this. We all deserve to feel good about ourselves and feel in control of our well-being.
In 2008, July was designated to increase public awareness of how mental health, mental health resources, and more affect communities of color and other communities that experienced marginalization (lookout for a blog all about it later this month!). This is the perfect time to acknowledge that some of us might be still, more intensely or suddenly struggling to increase human connection after a considerable period of heightened isolation from others. How do we feel about being together in space? How many feet of closeness are you comfortable between yourself and others? How can we find and initiate intimacy in dating, sexual hookups, and other platonic relationships that are so very important to us? How can we communicate our comfort levels around distancing, touching, hugging, masking, and everything else that’s on our minds?
Let’s also think about what excited us the most and what made us come alive this past Pride month. How can we make more opportunities like these possible for the rest of the year? How can we carry the strength and joy we received from it into the following months? Corporations are switching back from their once-a-year rainbow-colored logos now that they have met their pink dollar quota, but we don’t have to do the same. We can continue to engage and share space and our resources with one another. We need each other now more than ever.
Finding ways to continue exchanging hope, community, healing, and coping strategies for stress management is critical. These are the tools needed to face the “microaggressions” that many of us dread if we are going back to work in predominantly white spaces. “Microaggressions” is in quotations because there is nothing “micro” about being aggressed (so moving forward, let’s call them what they are: aggressions). We are having to deal with the exhaustingly frustrating and unfair expectation of being the ones who are always “resilient” and “rising above” injustices that did not have to happen in the first place. Our self-care and wellness will be relied on heavily, and we have to make sure we can count on ourselves for these soothing methods when we need them.
allgo wants to create a virtual space where queer people of color communities can have a conversation around this and more. Join us on Sun. July 18th from 2 PM to 3:30 PM or Tues. July 20th from 6 PM to 7:30 PM CST to delve into these valid concerns and support one another in a judgment-free way as we find ways to live our lives safely and freely. This free online event is one of many this year around promoting the well-being and vitality of QPOC communities in Austin, TX. For more information about this and other Health and Wellness events, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
Register for Sun. July 18th from 3-4:30 PM CST at https://bit.ly/comingoutsunday
Register for Tues. July 20th from 6-7:30 PM CST at https://bit.ly/comingouttuesday
So what are you needing? What can allgo offer or provide in the coming months? Is there a topic you would like to have discussed? We want to see what we can do. Leave a message in the comments.