Why I’m Doing This
I think we can all agree that it has been an exceptionally hard year for everyone. And there’s a special place in my heart for LGBTQ+ youth, particularly those living in less open-minded regions, families, communities, etc. and trying to figure out their place in this world and find their people where they finally feel seen. I guess it’s because I was one of those kids, knowing I was different, but not fully sure how just yet, and also not sure who I could trust to tell. To us in the LGBTQ+ community, we know coming out and accepting yourself is a life and death issue. We can lose our families over it, our homes, our friends, and our lives, whether it be at the hands of someone else or our own. Being a kid and going through puberty and figuring out who you are is hard for everyone. But, when you’re a minority, LGBTQ+ specifically, and especially when you can’t find people like you around, it’s that much harder, leading to much higher rates of mental health issues and self-harm behavior, as well as homelessness. Because of COVID-19, an already bad situation has become even worse. Every day at the beginning of December, I heard a news story about the mental health crisis that has arisen due to social isolation for our kids, and rates of ER visits by tweens and teens increasing as much as 30%, meaning it reached the point of self-harm behavior and/or suicide attempts. Those were for tweens and teens at large, so of course the numbers would be even higher for LGBTQ+ youth.
But the thing is, we’re all hurting right now. Not just the youth. Our world is forever changed from what it was a year ago. And while I do believe there have been some great things that have come out of this situation, the amount of loss, stress, anxiety, fear, and isolation is overwhelming. Not to mention the level of food and financial insecurity. It’s led to a mental health crisis in the country, and even people who have never had mental health issues are struggling as well. As much as I try to be positive and grateful for the good stuff and relationships in my life, the amount of pain and suffering this year can grip my heart so quickly that in one short moment, I can go from laughing to sobbing. And the holidays just exacerbate the sense of loss, isolation, and change we’ve had to endure this year.
I truly believe that we all want the same thing: to find love and community. When I used to study non-human primates, as well as human behavior, the research supported the same truth: social connections decrease stress and lead to more fulfilling lives.
So, I decided to post some things that have helped me get through tough times in my life so that anyone who is struggling or needing to find their people or simply needs a laugh, can hopefully find it in something that I share. This is not a best of list or 2020 list. Some of the shows or songs might be more recent just because my memory only goes back so far, there’s more supportive and better (sometimes) content available out there now, and it’s easier to access recent stuff in many cases (shows for example). My plan is to share a post each day through the end of December to help lift peoples’ spirits. While I do normally share most content on FB, because these may be long pieces with links to things, and because I also am reaching people on Twitter and Instagram, I will post the content on my website’s blog: averybrooksauthor.com. That way, down the road if you’re looking for this resource, it won’t take a year and a day to scroll through the FB feed to find it. I’ll send out social media notifications when a new blog is up each day.
And while the resources may largely be LGBTQ+ focused (either by and/or for LGBTQ+ people, or about LGBTQ+ issues/stories), they go beyond LGBTQ+ content. So, this is for everyone. Well, everyone with an open mind. I value comedy and while it sometimes can be offensive or hard to hear, it doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate. I believe that comedy is an important medium for social commentary and I’ll discuss that more down the road.
So, let me say two things before sharing the first post tomorrow:
- While I may enjoy enlightening conversations and getting to know people, I am an introvert at my core. And an empath, something I had never even heard of until a couple of years ago. I am also a very private person about the things that matter to me, which I learned I had to do at a young age. I’ve dealt with depression and social anxiety most of my life, only to learn recently I have general anxiety as well (I just thought everyone felt like I did all of the time, whoops). So, I get not feeling okay and struggling. I also never used social media as a rule prior to being a published author. It made me depressed to see everyone’s highlight reels (and a few other reasons kept me off it as well). But, I decided when I published my book that it was more important to me to connect with people than to hide away. And so, throughout these posts, I will be sharing more about myself than I ever have and probably ever intended. And the reason is singular. I want to save lives. Because that’s how serious this is. We are feeling so alone, and yet paralyzed from seeking help because we’re so full of fear and self-doubt because of cancel culture and social media trolls and like buttons that we’re petrified of saying the wrong thing or being who we really are. But we all have something to say. We’ve all traversed beautiful life-giving moments, horribly dark low points, and everything in between. I’ve been biting my own tongue (or keyboard?) so much over the past year, but no one ever helps anyone by dimming their own light. So, shine bright, y’all:)
- Which brings me to the next point, Rules of engagement. The whole point of this is to help people feel a sense of community, joy, peace, or whatever resonates for them. Also, this is me opening up about things that have mattered to me. So, you may disagree about whether something I like is something you like, but you don’t need to share that here. I hope that in a kind and supportive way, people may feel inspired to share things that have helped them as well. Since I do not have the comment feature enabled for each blog post (for now at least), you can comment on the social media posts for each blog. I will keep an eye on it and remove comments and people if needed to keep it a safe space, but please, respect each other, share good things, and be kind. And feel free to comment even if you don’t have a resource to share. I love to hear if things are helpful or resonate in some way with people.
All right, here’s to getting through the end of the year and a bright, kind, compassionate, and fulfilling 2021!