Due to the systemic oppressions and injustices that LGBTQ persons face, they are more likely to  struggle with mental health issues like depression. The conversation on mental health and Queer  activism thus provided a space where Queer activists could unpack the heteronormative systems  that allow homophobia to thrive and therefore harm and oppress their community. This was also  an opportunity to share strategies on community care and self-care for Queer organizers. The  

conversation came at a very important time in Kenya, during the SabaSaba March for Our Lives,  which saw numerous Queer activists at the frontline campaigning for better governance, and  diversity and inclusion. This meeting saw many partners from different places including ….  taking part in this conversation.  

As introduction, the moderators, Sandra and Rockfreaq engaged the community in sharing the  one thing that has made them happy. This session offered a much-needed space for reflections,  practice of gratitude and an opportunity to exist without laboring. 

Self-Care in the Queer Community 

Audre Lorde asserts, and vast majorities of Queer organizers agree, that caring for ourselves is  not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. The general  view by most participants was that one could not take care of their community if they do not take  care of themselves. The big question however is how many times do Queer activists take care of  themselves? This session provided an essential chance to vent, rant and simply exist. Many of  the organizers expressed their concern on the effects of COVID on the Queer community and the  scary reality that no systems in place exist to address the pandemic. Further, there was a general  conclusion that the pandemic`s impact on women and girls was immense, this, following the  recent reports that about 4,000 school going girls got pregnant during the lockdown period.  

During this lockdown period, many Queer organizers are either on lockdown with homophobic  family members or away from home and are homesick. Police brutality has also been at an all time high, with the police arresting people even before exercising their right to demonstrate. The  general view was that the country does not care about Queer community and many wonder about  the hierarchy of power as a Queer woman, do their lives really matter? 

Practicing Self-care. 

It is difficult to hold space for other people when you need the same kind of help. Activism can  be thankless; people see the results but quite often, ignore the work in the background. However,  there is a need to remain intentional and deliberate about practicing care for the community and  for self. Here are some self-care practices and suggestions directly from Queer organizers: 

  • If I want to talk to someone, I ask first if they are okay to hold space for me. If you are going through a hard time emotionally, feel it, sit with it, go through it  acknowledge your feelings. 
  • Compartmentalize your family and friends. Be honest with yourself, sometimes it is the  people we love who are our triggers. 
  • I listen to my body a lot, I do what it needs, and I preserve myself from known triggers.
  • We cannot do this activism if we are depleted and burnt out. Activism is a collective  effort. 
  • Netflix and Chill is life, helps me a lot to relax. 
  • If you die today, life will always go on. It is oaky to pause. If you are depleted another  person will still take that space. It is important to stay alive. 
  • Pause, rest and try again another day. 
  • Things are happening, true but do not be harsh on yourself if you cannot be part of it. Identify what role you play in the revolution. 
  • When I got to town for sabasaba and saw the police I thought of my baby and had to go  back home and hold space for the community online. 

Organizing work is urgent in nature, dismantling systems in its very nature is always urgent,  however, there is a need for activists to prioritize themselves, not be consumed by the work, and  take deliberate steps to ensure that their mental health is priority.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.