By ena ganguly
I am deeply committed to the wellness of queer people of color communities, including the possession of quality social capital. To me, this means that when I’m in trouble, I can pick up the phone and someone will show up. Or if I want my people to come out to an event, they will be there, supporting me. To me, social capital looks like having access to support, love and care, in both tangible and intangible ways, for when we need it. I believe that in order to create social capital, it is vital that we assist others and support QPOC communities.
Recently I have been thinking about the beauty and strong presence of the queer people of color communities in Austin. I’ve been thinking about the importance of building on the connections that already exist and forging new ones.
Here are some ways that I think we can build stronger connections:
- Checking in with others
- We get so busy in our day-to-day that sometimes it’s hard to come up for air and be aware of what others are going through, but when we do find the capacity, it is important to check in on those who need it. A good example is to ask how someone is if you know they are sick, and maybe even assessing what necessary self-care strategies they need support with. By reaching out to folks, you may initiate a healthy dynamic of looking out for another when it is needed while also building a beautiful relationship. One way this can go awry is when you’re giving more of yourself to others than is healthy. If you feel burnt out serving others, then it’s not a healthy practice for you to continue. Another way this can do more harm than good is if the relationship is one-sided, where you are doing more for the other person than they are for you, and vice versa. Just be mindful of how much energy and resources you give to others versus how much self-care and time you need to yourself, which is different for everyone!
- Performing acts of service
- Checking in with others enables us to practice community-related awareness, which means we are better equipped to understand what people need and how to meet their needs. One very important act of service that most anyone can appreciate is cooking for others. If someone recently experienced loss, brought a new child into their home, or underwent any major life events, cooking is a great way to support them. Everyone needs to eat! Just make sure you know of their dietary restrictions, religious beliefs and make the food the day you are handing it to them so it stays fresh longer. Cleaning up for or with others is also a great way to support folks you care about. Cleaning up previously cluttered spaces improves overall health, especially if we can’t clean because of physical and/or mental reasons. If you can help someone clean up their space, whether it is their office, apartment or car, it does a great deal for people’s well being. (Psssttt…want to learn more about cleaning spaces? Come to our event, Restoring Spaces, on March 6th!)
- Another act of service is to run an errand or two with someone who needs the company. Errands were the way my mamma and I used to spend our Saturday mornings together and when we got all of it done, we would treat ourselves to food from some place! I still very much enjoy runnings errands, especially if I can bond with somebody who I enjoy spending time with. Accompanying others or asking others to join can give folks that extra boost they need to get stuff done and out of the way! Plus, if the person you’re asking doesn’t have easy access to a car, this gives them the opportunity to get stuff done they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
- Investing time and presence
- Other than offering tangible resources, show up for folks whenever possible. If you know a friend is trying something new and doing something out of their comfort zone, show up for them! Even if you aren’t good friends with them, showing up for the communities you are a part of gives others the sense and security that people have their back, believe in them and want to see them succeed.
- If you can’t show up to a particular event or outing, invest time in others one-on-one or go out in a group. In general, spending time with others allows us to get to know one another better and build healthy relationships.
- Now if you’re an introvert, I totally see you. Don’t feel guilty for not being able to, or wanting to, be at every event. Do what you can, when you can. The best thing you can do, is show up for yourself in ways that you need to and go from there. You may even feel up to inviting folks into your house to have a relaxed movie marathon or video gaming session where you don’t need to do so much talking and socializing.
- Being involved in queer people of color (QPOC) related organizations
- If you want to do something on an organizational level, reach out to your local queer people of color organizations (or organizations who serve QPOC communities) to see if you can support their mission. One great way is to volunteer for events. It doesn’t require committing to something very long-term or effort heavy, but enables you to get a taste of what it looks to like to be present for QPOC happenings. Are you thinking about what potential opportunities allgo may have for an eager and brilliant volunteer like you? Well, since we are coordinating the Community Healing health fair on March 2nd, we need folks to sign up to volunteer for the event! We ask that you fill out the Volunteer Form as well as commit to a small orientation session on February 26th at 6:30 PM at allgo (701 Tillery St. Suite A1).
- If you feel ready to do something with higher stakes, consider applying to be a steering committee member or a board member at an organization that serves queer people of color and whose work you really admire. These types of commitments are longer term with bigger asks, time and skill wise, but, ultimately, the result is you being instrumental in supporting and advocating for QPOC communities.
- Taking time for you
- Last, but definitely not the least, take care of you! Make sure you have time for you when you need it. When your body, spirit or mind tell you to stop, listen to that. When you feel tired, sick, or restless, listen to that. Keep your well being in mind at all times. I know that as QPOCs we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to show up and show out for the communities we are a part of, but there are some responsibilities we have to ourselves that need to be met before we can meet any other duties outside of ourselves. Creating a list of decompressing techniques, including coping skills, will serve you long term as you continue your journey making an impact in all of the marvelous and beautiful communities you are a part of.