Pride is all about loving who you are, celebrating who you are and living your best life.
To live our best life is to recognise that good health and well-being, paired with identity and a sense of belonging can encourage us all to be the healthiest and happiest we can be.
As LGBT+ people we go on a journey of self-discovery, which in the best-case results in us being able to accept ourselves and love who we are.
A part of loving who we are is allowing ourselves to be the healthiest and happiest we can be. That means taking care of our physical, social and mental well-being.
Even if you’re still on your journey of self-discovery and acceptance, surrounding yourself with healthy behaviours and positive influences can help you on your way to being your happiest self.
As so many of us often do in life, I had separated my LGBT+ identity from my notion of well-being.
Working in health, I also realised that many in our community face additional barriers or have experiences that will have a major impact on their well-being. It’s important that we talk about these barriers, open up about these issues, and take a moment to consider how we can support one another and ensure future generations of LGBT+ people will not have the same experiences.
COVID-19 may have taken away our Pride parades, but what it has done is given us an opportunity to broaden the conversation, look closer at the struggles we share and stand united against them. If we’re to continue to progress the LGBT+ movement, we need to be at our best to do so.
Levers for Well-being
The Well-being of Future Generations Act enshrines in law our duty to protect and pave the way for the next generation. If we look at the 7 well-being goals at the heart of the act, we can draw on the necessary inspiration that shows how LGBT+ people and their allies can work together to ensure a better future for the next generation of Welsh LGBT+ people.
What does this have to do with health?
The world we find ourselves in has a major impact on our health and well-being. We call this the wider determinants of health. It recognises that everything that impacts our daily lives also impacts our health and well-being. To achieve a healthier future for ourselves and the next generation, we have to ask ourselves how we make important changes so that LGBT+ people can live happier, healthier lives.
We have to ask ourselves the right questions and more importantly we have to turn the answers we find into a reality.
These are by no means the only questions we would be asking ourselves but hopefully they work as a starting point for the type of conversations we should and need to be having.
In addition to the broader wellbeing goals for the community, we can also set ourselves individual goals.
It’s important that we take care of ourselves while trying to help others. From quitting smoking and eating a balanced diet, to being more alcohol aware and living a more active lifestyle; there are changes we can make to be the healthiest we can be.
Try setting yourself some wellness goals for the next year. When setting them, think about how you will achieve them, when you want to achieve them by and write down a reminder of why you are doing it. There’s bound to be bumps in the road but having a clear idea of what you want to achieve and why you’re doing it will spur you on through the tough times!
You can find lots of wellbeing ideas and support on the How Are You Doing? pages from PHW.
You can also find LGBT+ specific support and advice via Stonewall Cymru.
As LGBT+ people we often rely on the strength of the family we’ve chosen for ourselves and the people around us to provide support and stay connected.
We find strength in our united difference and over the past few months many of us have had to find new ways to stay connected while we’ve been physically isolated from these support networks.
It’s important that we continue to find new ways to stay connected and build a sense of community. LGBT+ culture does and will continue to exist beyond LGBT+ bars and we have to create more opportunities for people to build connections.
Why not try something new with friends or use is it as an opportunity to meet new people. You could join an LGBT+ book club, choir or sports team. Volunteer with an LGBT+ organisation or join in with other LGBT+ groups.
Take a look at the comprehensive lists of LGBT+ groups at Umbrella Cymru.
It’s been a bit of a rubbish year so far and COVID-19 isn’t the only disease to have spread throughout this time. While we have been physically apart and reliant on social media to stay connected to others and the world around us, a significant amount of hate has been able to infiltrate our lives and spread across the globe.
It’s our job not to rise to that hate but soar above it. We do that by raising each other up, by supporting one another; taking the most vulnerable in our community and putting their needs before our own. We have seen an increase in hate towards the trans community, towards black, asian and ethnic minority communities, towards migrant communities. It’s time to be better allies across the entire LGBT+ spectrum and start seeing ourselves as one community united in our difference.
We do not tackle racism by failing to recognise it in our own community. We do not help the trans community by seeing their struggles as separate to our own. We do not increase visibility for bisexuals, pansexuals, gender non-conformists and other queer identities by dominating the conversation with our own issues.
We are one LGBT+ community made up of thousands of individuals, not one story the same as the next. We share struggles while recognising that some have and will face more struggles than others. We celebrate the barriers we have broken down and work together to dismantle the ones that still stand in our way. We advocate for and protect one another not because it’s the easy thing to do, not because we fall under the same umbrella term but because it’s the right thing to do.
So please, when thinking about how you want to ‘Live Your Best Life’, think about the ways in which it could help others live theirs.