“Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are.”
— Don Miguel Ruiz
🏳️🌈 This is a resource guide for queer healing.
🧙 It’s for everyone—especially queer people and those who love them.
🔥 To move from surviving, to thriving.
🧒 To feel more at home with yourself.
💅 To learn to nurture yourself and others.
❤️ To connect deeply with the people in your life.
☔️ To become more resilient and adaptable.
🚨 Are you in crisis? If so, read this 🚨
License and disclaimer · Contributor’s Guide
A lot of resources for the queer community—the crisis hotlines, LGBT centers, and support groups—are geared toward survival.
But, what happens once you have survived?
What does it mean to thrive as a queer person?
What does it mean to thrive as a queer person?
To survive, you have to cope in the darkness. It’s not an easy path at all, but it’s the only one you know. Along the way you build habits of survival:
- habits of pushing down or numbing your pain;
- habits of relating to the stress and anxiety you manufactured in order to navigate a scary world;
- habits of relating to (or dissociating from) your own queer body;
- habits of relating to others through the fog of your own inner war;
You build these because they are necessary.
And as you move toward emotional safety and stability in your life, the survival habits start working against you. You struggle against their limitations.
Eventually you discover that in order to thrive, you have to molt. You have to shed these habits that don’t serve you anymore, and emerge into a new way of being. A new self.
On the journey of queer healing there are inflection points. Thresholds of liberation, where many new capacities open up. It can happen in an instant. A thorn of queer trauma is finally, blessedly dislodged. And so much of what you thought you knew of yourself, and the world aroud you, changes immediately. It’s a rebirth.
All the energy that was required for you to push down and repress the pain now bursts forth, ready to be repurposed toward being alive in the present moment.
Learning to thrive is like learning a new language. Being at peace after so much war is jarring. At first it may seem too wholesome. Too healthy. Too serene and safe. Boring, even.
You didn’t make a habit of following your bliss. You didn’t make a habit of facing each moment with wonder and curiosity and love. You made other habits. And sometimes you miss the war. Though it was horrific, there was something so reliable about the pain. It offered a stable point that you could focus on while living in the darkness.
Now you can finally breathe, yet you also may feel unmoored. Floating. You’re not trying to swim to the surface as hard as you can. You’re not getting pummeled by waves every time you try to surface. Now you have a surfboard. You have the opportunity to ride on top of the wave, enjoy the blissful feeling of flow, the sun kissing your skin, the sweet air. All the sweeter because of how much you fought for it.
But you don’t quite know how to surf yet. You don’t know what you’re capable of.
You start learning in earnest. You make new discoveries every day, and some of them really astound you. You learn how to love beyond what you were taught or knew was possible. You learn to live an integrated life, an untrammaled life.
And as your cup continues to overflow, you create. You create new structures and forms for belonging, relationships, family, home, intimacy, resiliency, liberation, love, and peace.
Because that’s what queers do.
Scope & Notes
- This guide takes the long view on queer healing. It attempts to answer: What are the keys to a healthy life, and the foundations for ongoing growth and liberation, in the face of queer oppression?
- The goal is to cover everything you need to thrive as a queer person: Coming out, making a home, dating, sex, queer family, mental and physical health, spirituality, being in your body, domestic practices, gender transitions, legal issues, financial planning, and, of course, queer interior design.
- This guide is a broad collection of resources. It is designed to be practical, but it is not a substitute for therapist, or a financial planner, or an estate lawyer, or an interior designer… it’s more like a concierge. May it get you where you need to go.
- This guide uses the word “queer” and sometimes “LGBT” as shorthand for LGBTQIA*. Using the word “queer” within our community is a way of reclaiming what might be considered an insult and using it for empowerment. It’s a clever reappropriation. And it’s a nice word because it starts with Q, and that will get you a lot of points in Scrabble.
- This is a work in progress, and it is village property. We hope you’ll consider dropping some knowledge here. (See the Contributor’s Guide for details)
The path to thriving
How to come out
Coming out of the closet is not a singular moment where the hero fabulously steps out on stage, loudly and confidently proclaiming their truth. It’s a lifelong journey of self-discovery (as you come out in new ways to yourself) and sharing (as you come out to new people in your life).
What am I? That’s the real question, isn’t it. Which of these boxes that society has laid out for gender and sexuality apply to me?
Forget about coming out to your family. First you have to come out to yourself. You may not even know what you would come out as. “Am I a lesbian?” “Am I nonbinary?” “Am I a butch trans girl?”
It’s okay to just be confused for a while. You can even come out as confused. “I know I’m … different.”
You might gain some new understanding of yourself by describing what you feel to a supportive listener. Or simply by having experiences. Because we learn experientially, not by trying to “figure it out” alone. Google won’t tell you who you are.
You may not feel ready to come out as confused, even. That’s okay. Just know that your own inner imagination will only get you so far. Maybe you found a few words that seem to describe your gender and/or sexuality, and you tried them on and, a year later, you see that they still ring true. Good. Might this change? Yes, but that’s the beauty of self-discovery. Years from now, you might come out to yourself again, in some new ways. I’m not sure if these discoveries ever really end. But after you’ve lived with a new discovery internally for a while, taking action in the world is the best way to learn more about yourself. Because you only live once, after all.
Coming out will, at some point, make someone around you feel uncomfortable. It’s not your fault. But that doesn’t make it feel any better to, for example, have someone scowl at you when you come out to them. Learning to weather other people’s issues around sexuality is part of the journey.
Queerphobia is so embedded in our collective consciousness that most people need time to discover the ways they have bought into and internalized society’s phobias. This process of rewiring the phobias is a process of learning to celebrate and love parts of ourselves we were taught to hate, or to believe was unnatural, evil, against God, and so on.
HRC: Resource Guide to Coming Out (PDF)
The Trevor Project: Coming Out As YOU (PDF)
Internalized queerphobia can be unconscious
We have been taught a lot of ideas and have been fed messages from society about queerness, gender, gender roles, and sexuality. We’ve been taught that gender is a binary and not a specturm. And, these ideas can be so deeply wired that you can’t really see how you carry them around, and how they affect you. Discovering how you’ve been socialized with toxic ideas from misinformed people is the first step toward letting these ideas go and further embracing yourself and the people around you.
Healing your trauma
Assume you are traumatized
“We see gay men who have never been sexually or physically assaulted with similar post-traumatic stress symptoms to people who have been in combat situations or who have been raped.”
— Alex Keuroghlian, a psychiatrist at the Fenway Institute’s Center for Population Research in LGBT Health.
Emotional trauma is part of being alive. Every newborn has had to endure the trauma of separation from their parent. And then a lot of things happen after that. Parents unwittingly carry forward intergenerational wounds. Children are cruel to each other. We are damaged by our upbringing. And one challenge of adulthood is to get ourselves sorted out, to resolve our core dilemmas, to become whole again, to let go of the old childhood structures that hold us back as adults.
Trauma isn’t always obvious to ourselves. We numb. We make up stories to explain why we are how we are, and that it is permanent. We may even learn to love our trauma, in a way, because we identify so closely with it.
Here’s a suggestion: If you’re queer, assume you are traumatized and make healing an ongoing project in your life. Others may think it’s self-indulgent, but it’s not. When you put in the effort to improve yourself, you make more of yourself available to others. When you bring a better you to the world, everyone benefits.
Healing is possible
“You can be fully in charge of your life only if you can acknowledge the reality of your body, in all its visceral dimensions.”
— Bessel van der Kolk, “The Body Keeps the Score”
The good news: It is possible to heal trauma and triggers! We know a lot more about it than we did even ten years ago, and new tools are opening up possibilities foe deep healing.
The bad news: It’s a long and sometimes bumpy journey. Everyone’s path through healing trauma is different. Some people have a history of traumas with a lowercase t. Some have Traumas with a capital T. A few lowercase-t traumas spread out throughout childhood can be more debilitating than one capital-T trauma. It’s possible to heal many kinds of trauma.
Below is a list of trauma healing tools. Start anywhere that feels like it might be compelling. Don’t give up on an approach if you’re not seeing immediate results. It takes time for some of these approaches to really be effective.
DIY trauma workbooks
The Complex PTSD Workbook
Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving
Trauma Survivors Strategies for Healing
Trauma & Recovery — great book about the nature of trauma
Movies to Watch
The Work is a film about a trauma release group therapy program inside Folsom prison. It’s very powerful.
On Being a Helper
As for being a helper or balancing the role of a helper, these books are fantastic when it comes to navigating your own trauma in relationship to a partner/family member/client/etc. Secondary trauma is real.
Loving Someone with PTSD
Help for the Helper
Healing from the mind outward
How to use cognitive approaches like psychotherapy or mindfulness meditation to heal trauma.
Psychodynamic group therapy
Mindfulness Meditation — Insight Meditation & Vipassana retreats
Expressive arts eg. painting, photography, film and scriptwriting
Therapy means so many things. There are many kinds of therapists. So, it’s worth learning about various modalities (there are many) and talking to several therapists so that your work will be effective. With the wrong kind of therapy, it’s easy to waste a lot of money. But the right kind of therapy is absolutely life changing and is worth every penny.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
EMDR is used for healing trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction, and phobias. It is different from talk therapy. It uses eye movement (or sounds or vibrations). When you recall a traumatic memory while doing these calming eye movements, the memory gradually loses its charge.
No one knows quite why it works, but the eye movement is similar to what happens during deep sleep. The theory is that trauma is stored in the part of the brain that isn’t accessible via talking, so while talk therapy may feel good at the time, it doesn’t always have a lasting impact. EMDR makes it possible to truly heal old trauma, sometimes in just a few sessions.
Video: Healing Trauma with EMDR
Book: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk talks about the power of EMDR and somatic therapies for healing trauma
Parnell Institute directory of EMDR therapists
Article: “Does EMDR Work?" (The Guardian, 2018)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Aside from EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to help with trauma release. It is a more traditional talk-centered approach that aims to rewrite the underlying beliefs that lead to depression and anxiety.
App: Sanvello is an app that helps you relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression
App: Woebot is a self-care bot that helps with anxiety and depression using CBT techniques
Video: Feeling Good TED talk by CBT practitioner David Burns
Book: Feeling Good very popular book that has helped a lot of people with mood disorders, by David Burns
Can’t afford a therapist right now? There are many ways to get free therapy, so don’t give up the search. You can go to a training clinic at a university, for a reduced rate. If you’re in the US, you may be able to use Medicaid. Call SAMHSA at 800.662.4357 to speak with someone, confidentially, who can help you find options.
Meditation & Spirituality
Meditation is very powerful and can be used to reduce the symptoms of PTSD by calming the nervous system.
Meditating with PTSD
Book: The Mind Illuminated
Oak meditation app
Here’s a few general books about reconnecting to yourself and your spirituality or consciousness as it exists separate from religion.
Loving What Is by Byron Katie
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
Waking Up by Sam Harris
The End of Your World by Adyashanti
Religion & Spirituality
A lot of LGBTQ oppression comes from religious organizations. So if you come from a religious background, does this mean you have to stop being religious? Not at all. There are lots of options, and many inclusive churches and spiritual communities.
Many United Methodist churches (there is an ongoing dispute about LGBTQ rights within the UMC)
Book: Pray the Gay Away by Bernadette Barton is a study of present-day religious oppression of LGBTQ people in the US
Film: Believer about the Mormon Church’s inner struggle with LGBTQ rights, featuring Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons
Film: Trembling Before G-d, a 2001 American documentary film about gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews trying to reconcile their sexuality with their faith.
Affirmation, an independent organization supporting LGBTQ Mormons
Follow a Dead Teacher
Many queer people have suffered from religious shame and oppression growing up. So as adults, it makes sense that they may become untrusting of all religious and spiritual guides, philosophers and teachers of all kinds.
This is unfortunate, because having your own spiritual life is incredibly valuable and healing. One way to proceed and reclaim your own sense of consciousness or spirituality is to follow a dead teacher. A dead teacher has no possible incentive or means to harm you or take anything away from you, so you may find it easier to listen to them.
The best dead teachers, in my opinion, are recently dead teachers who lived during contemporary times. Because you do not need anyone else who is currently alive to help you interpret the words of a recently dead teacher. You can have your own relationship with them, and listen to them directly, and decide for yourself how you want to apply their teachings in your life.
Dead spiritual teachers
J. Krishnamurti, Indian philosopher and writer
Alan Watts, an eloquent English philosopher
Suzuki Roshi, spiritual teacher who brought Zen to the United States
H. W. L. Poonja (“Papaji”), Indian sage who taught self-enquiry.
S.N. Goenka, Burmese-Indian teacher of Vipassana meditation—a no-dogma practice of self-directed meditation
Living spiritual teachers
All of the people listed below have offered free media online that can help you. Watch and listen to each of them and see if you connect with any of their messages. All of the people below have your wellbeing in mind.
Bessel van der Kolk (podcast interview)
Byron Katie (videos)
Pia Mellody (videos)
Eckhart Tolle (videos)
Sri Prem Baba
Neurofeedback uses EEG monitoring to improve brain functioning as you learn to alter your brain activity. By using computer imaging, you receive direct feedback through a “brain map” that indicates areas of your brain with excessive activity associated with PTSD, such as your fear center. Here you learn how to relax your body and mind to activate the outermost layer of your brain; that which is associated with thinking and decision-making. Typically, 20 sessions will give you enough feedback to understand how to facilitate regulation of your body and mind on your own.
Note: Current research does not support conclusive resultes about the efficacy of neurofeedback.
Article: Can Monitoring Brain Waves Boost Mental Health? (The New York Times, January 12, 2022)
Article: Psychotherapy never cleared my ‘brain fog’ and mental health woes. So I tried neurofeedback. (Washington Post, September 18, 2021)
Psychedelic and psychoactive drugs
There’s strong evidence that drugs like MDMA (ecstacy/molly), psychedelic mushrooms, ayahuasca, and LSD, when used in therapy or with a guide, are among the fastest and most effective treatments for complex PTSD. Yes, they come with risks. This is an area of ongoing exploration and recent experimentation, with the FDA currently in stage 3 trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. If all goes as expected, MDMA will become legal for trauma therapy in several countries by 2021.
MAPS — Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
Psychedelic Integration — MAPS directory of therapists who help people integrate a psychedelic experience
Book: How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
Book: Trust Surrender Receive: How MDMA Can Release Us From Trauma and PTSD by Anne Other
Book: The Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Odyssey by Bett Williams Video: The future of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy TED talk by Rick Doblin, head of MAPS
Movie: MDMA: The Movie
Movie: Trip of Compassion, about MDMA trials in Israel for trauma release
“You are here. You survived. And regardless of any mistakes you may have made along the way, you’ve been given the gift of the present moment to begin again and to continue on consciously. So make the most of it and live in a way that makes your younger self proud.” – Nelia Torkian
When you have a powerful trauma healing experience, it’s helpful to process the experience afterwards in order to integrate what you learned into your life. These experiences can bring up so much material and it can take a while to sort through it all and really get the benefit.
Integration is as simple as journaling, going on a hike, having a slow cup of tea,
Article: How To Integrate a Psychedelic Experience
Article: Intention Setting and Integration: How to Make the Most of a Psychedelic Expereince
Article: Integration Tips
Article: The Importance of Integrating a Psychedelic Experience
In the act of drawing, the patient makes an initial reorganisation of the form of the trauma, and begins to differentiate the adaptive ego, which has the tools and the ability to restructure the experiences, and the traumatic emotional part that suffers those experiences in a condition of impotence and passivity. The person may rapidly access pre-verbal and motor-sensory language, activating inborn creative skills. The use of this tool enables us to access the traumatic material gently, limiting dissociative reactions, bypassing avoidance and flight behaviour and setting a distance from pain by objectivizing. A protective space is created between the self and the part that holds the suffering. A voice to the inner child. The patient is offered the possibility of drawing what is occurring in the self’s here and now, and given a choice of different graphic materials. At the end of the drawing and assessment phase the person is asked to note what has emerged, and a brief space of time may be allowed for description without interpretation.
Take care of plants
A cursory look at #boyswithplants on Instagram will show that queers and plants have always been in a symbiotic relationship. If you aren’t taking care of a plant, get one plant. If you have one and are successfully taking care of it, get another. If you keep killing plants, keep getting more plants and trying not to kill them. And they’re cheap af—often free.
Why is this self-care? Because taking care of another helps you take care of yourself. A plant will force some stability in your schedule and your living situation, and stability is a foundation of self-care. Plants require you to slow down to Plant Time. To follow the rhythm of another creature, one that moves slowly and does one thing very well. What can you learn from that?
Plants will make your home feel cozier and more inviting. Only plants can fill a space with such beautiful shapes, colors, and life energy. Plants are affordable elegance.
Good relationships are key to healing trauma.
Queer community sports
Dinners with queer family
Building a circle of trust
Creative writing and journaling
The bottom-up approach starts with the idea that trauma is stored in the body, for example as tension or sterss in the belly, shoulders, neck, jaw, chest, etc. Advocates for bottom-up therapy say that if we reduce stress in the body, our emotions will follow suit and improve.
Article: Reiki, Tantra, and the Healing Power of Touch
TRE Trauma Release therapy
Video: TRE At-Home Exercises 1 2
Rolfing is a massage technique that is about balancing the body.
OSHO Dynamic Meditation
Yelling and screaming and beating sticks against trees
Treating yourself to a local spa / sauna / massage / steam room
Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or other body / movement practices
Yoga is a huge world and there are so many styles that are different from each other. Some deeply spiritual, some that feel like an exercise class. Some are fast and sweaty and hot, and others are slow and deliberate and restorative. Every body needs something different. Here are a few yoga styles:
Trauma Sensitive Yoga
Video: Yin Yoga for deep emotional release
YouTube Channel: aad yog is an ancient form of yoga without alteration and adulteration
Video: Qi Gong — a 30 minute yogic qi gong routine with instruction
Breath Work and Cold Exposure
It seems so simple but breath work and cold exposure can be very powerful for healing. For example, reducing inflammation via cold exposure can be incredibly helpful for depression.
Max Strom / Breathe to Heal
Wim Hof Method is about the healing power of cold and breath
Holotropic Breathwork, created by Stan Grof as a way of experiencing non-ordinary states of consciousness through breathing
Somatic Experiencing is a body-oriented approach to trauma healing. It attempts to promote body awareness and release the residual physical tension that remains in the aftermath of trauma. It is sometimes used in conjunction with EMDR or other modalities.
Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute directory of SE therapists
Book: Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine, creator of SE
Book: In An Unspoken Voice by Peter Levine
Could be promising for PTSD, but there’s not a whole lot of research here.
PTSD UK | Reddit
Either way, it seems good for the brain.
Of course, having sex is fun. But sexuality also has a spiritual component for those who are willing to explore it. It can be very healing, can help you develop self-acceptance and validation of your body. It can help you be in your body more fully.
Activity: Sensate Focus is a way of experiencing touch in a non-goal-directed way (not trying to have an orgasm) that is focused on the experience and sensations, rather than on evaluation. It allows people to practice intimacy by thinking less, and feeling more.
Video: Sacred Masturbation 101
Video: Healthy Sexuality
“Yoga,” they said. “You should do some yoga it will be great.”
Whatever. I have better things to do.
Not worth my time.
“I’m not a yoga person,” you say.
And then, when you finally get out of your own way and take a yoga class, you’re like.. omg I feel so much better why didn’t I do that all along?
A lot of self-care can feel that way.
Or, worse, self-care can be triggering because we don’t want to see how we’ve been neglecting ourselves. How lost we’ve allowed ourselves to become. If I really look at my finances… then I will have to face how awful they look and I’m not ready for that! Ugh.
Self-care also takes time. It happens at a slower pace than we might be used to. It requires some diligence. If there’s a lot of anxiety in your life, slowing down may not be easy. It may be the last thing you want to do. EVEN if you think it could really help.
Self-care asks that we be present, stop running, come into our bodies and pay attention to our health. And maybe we don’t like what we see. Maybe there was a lot of neglect—years of neglect. It’s easier to keep running.
So it’s best to start simple. One day I decided to start making sure my feet were happy. I discovered that I had been buying size 12 shoes but my feet were actually size 13. So I bought some shoes that fit, for once. I started moisturizing my feet before bed. I got a little pumice stone and started to exfoliate them in the shower. I got cute colorful socks I liked. I started clipping my toenails a bit more often. And now I know that no matter what kind of crazy shit is going on in my life, my feet are taken care of.
Self-care is a thousand tiny things that can elevate your mood and overall sense of wellbeing. None of them may seem particularly important, but they add up.
Take care of your face
Let’s start with your face.
Every night, wash your face before bed.
Every morning, follow these three steps:
- Splash your face with water
What products should you buy for this? /r/skincareaddiction is a very useful subreddit. The short answer is, try different products and listen to your skin.
In fact, a lot of self-care comes down to listening to yourself in ways you may not be accustomed to, and simply responding to what you ntoice.
If you want to get really fancy, determine your skin type.
Good feels, motivation, and inspiration
Bring in regular motivation and reminders for self-care:
@onbeinginyourbody insta love
Aloe Bud self care reminders (iPhone)
Healing with nature
Ocean adventures: surfing, swimming, kayaking
Wilderness therapy including backpacking, mountain climbing
Like to party and use drugs?
You won’t get any judgement from us; we just want you to be safe and healthy.
DanceSafe is a non-profit promoting health and safety within the nightlife and EDM community. Anything from testing your drugs and making sure they are clean, to hearing protection, to figuring out how to get home safely. DanceSafe has two fundamental operating principles: harm reduction and peer-based, popular education.
Trans & gender 101
Trans 101 YouTube series
Transgender Map website is a nice way to get a understanding of options and pathways in transition
Learning about your identity
Nonbinary Flowchart — what’s my gender?
Being an ally
100 Easy Ways to Make the World Better for Trans People
Generally, look for clinitians and providers who use an informed consent transition model.
Changing ID Documents
US resource guide — how to change your papers, for every state in the US
UK Gender Recognition Certification
Canadian Passport gender change guide
Insurance & Providers
In the US:
Transcend Legal videos on how to get trans healthcare covered.
Outside the US:
WPATH Provider Search
Hormones: A Guide for FTMs
Hormones: A Guide for MTFs
How to get hormones in the US and in the UK
Background reading on the world of hormones
Healthcare of the Transgender Patient lecture notes by Dr. William Powers
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can help speed the healing of scars and tissue damage from GRS.
Shortcut to female voice guide for MtF
Managing Gender Dysphoria
20 Small Things To Do When Gender Dysphoria Gets You Down Gender dysphoria FAQ
Shop: Long Tall Sally fashion for tall girls
Shop: The Hair Shop
Shop: Rebirth Garments
Shop: Origami Customs
Tucking & gaffs
Tucking: A Comprehensive Guide
Shop: Chrysalis Lingerie
Shop: GI Collection
Your Friendly Neighborhood Binding Safety Guide
Shop: all is fair in love and wear
- Don’t bind if you have breast implants
🇺🇸 Lambda Legal
🇺🇸 Transgender Law Center
Online communities & resource guides
Transpeak is a supportive Discord community
Susan’s Place is a peer support website with very active forum
transgender teen survival guide great and supportive Tumblr with many resources
FTM Resource Guide Trans In The South guide from The Campaign for Southern Equality
YouTube Channels, Podcasts, etc.
Resources for Allies
Trans Allyship Workbook
Transwhat? — an online guide towards allyship
Gender: Your Guide
Women on the Edge of Time (novel)
Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist
Seminar in Transgender Studies
Cleve Jones - When We Rise
James Baldwin - Giovanni’s Room
Jack Halberstam - Female Masculinity
Falling in love
Resource: 💕 36 Questions to Fall in Love
Try these with anyone you’d like to be closer to, even if you’ve known them for a long time, you’ll likely learn some things.
Talking about the relationship itself is super valuable, especially in queer relationships where we aren’t necessarily following the straight world’s formulaic approach to romantic love. This is where tools like nonviolent communication can really help.
Book: Nonviolent Communication: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships
Video: Marshall Rosenburg NVC Workshop — a 3-hour workshop on NVC, by its creator
Learning about attachment theory, and your attachment style, will help you answer some questions about how you show up to relationships and give you some tools to work on yourself so you can connect more deeply with others and be stable for them.
Zine: Queer Attachment: An Anti-Oppression Toolkit for Relational Healing
Blog post: The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture
Book: Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
Book: Turn This World Inside Out: The Emergence of Nurturance Culture by Nora Samaran
When things are getting more serious
As things are getting more serious, it’s good to move into topical areas that a lot of people avoid, so you can get all the good (and uncomfortable) stuff out into the open.
Don’t wait until you’re moving in together or committing really deeply to each other, start talking about these things early: money, sex, partnerships, kinks, traumas, etc.
Resource: 84 Questions to Ask Your Partner About Money
Every relationship encounters challenges of consent and boundaries. Building a strong consent practice is a skill that will serve you well for your entire life.
Book: The Art of Receiving and Giving: The Wheel of Consent by Betty Martin and Robyn Dalzen
Videos: Betty Martin, lessons on consent Resource: Mia Schachter offers an integrative, mind-body, non-binary approach with their online courses on boundaries and consent
Use the Gottman Model
In the Gottman Model, the sound relationship is like a house built from trust and commitment. Many therapists have adopted this model for couples therapy.
This section is an excerpt from the Gottman Institute’s resource about healthy relationships. If you like it, you may enjoy their book “Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love”.
Five ways to build trust and commitment:
- Make trustworthiness a main priority in your relationship.
- Act to maximize your partner’s well-being
- Know that trust is built in small positive moments
- Avoid negative comparisons
- Generate frequent thoughts and acts that cherish your partner’s positive qualities and minimize your focus on their negative faults
If trust and commitment is the foundation of the house, here are the practices that build stability from the ground up:
Build Love Maps
- Maintain awareness of your partner’s world
Share Fondness and Admiration
- Make deposits into the Emotional Bank Account
Turn Towards Instead of Away
- Watch for, and accept bids for emotional connection
The Positive Perspective
- A positive perspective occurs when the friendship of your marriage is strong
- Accept influence from your partner: be open to compromise
- Discuss your problems: take turns listening to one another about perpetual issues
- Practice self-soothing: keep yourself calm
Make Life Dreams Come True
- Find ways to support each other’s life goals and dreams
Create Shared Meaning
- Build a shared sense of purpose. What is your mission and legacy?
🚩 Domestic Violence Red Flags
If you want the best chance at a healthy relationship with someone, you first need to learn how to avoid obviously unhealthy relationships.
Unfortunately we live in a world where domestic abuse is widespread.
However, it’s possible to see that you are entering an abusive, toxic relationship before you get trapped in it. There are early warning signs. Abusers use the same patterns—in the same order—in each new relationship. If you know how to spot them, it will be easier to say no.
Early warning signs
Too much: You are overwhelmed because they are giving you too many gifts, too many complements, too soon in the relationship. Too many texts, DMs late at night. Too much contact. Too many promises and talk about the future. They go from not in your life, to all over your life practically overnight.
Too soon: They are calling you their future spouse or partner right away. They are making big plans for the two of you, even though you barely know each other. They’re using controlling language, saying things like “You’re mine now.”
Transforming: They immediately start trying to change you. You are an object for their pleasure. They have lots of opinions about you and has unsolicited advice or comments on your tastes, beliefs, career, relationships, and personal style. Rules for how you should behave, how you should use your time, etc.
Constant contact: They contact you constantly. They expect you to respond right away. They want to go everywhere with you all the time. They want you focused on them, prioritizing their needs over your own and everyone else’s.
Isolating: Abuse thrives in isolation. So, they want to isolate you. They will criticize your loved ones or your friends, eventually getting you to cut off contact and shut down your external support structures so they can have you all to themselves.
Relationship Red Flags
It’s important to know what the red flags are. The lines that should never be crossed. Does your partner ever…
- Insult, demean or embarrass you with put-downs?
- Control what you do, who you talk to or where you go?
- Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
- Push you, slap you, choke you or hit you?
- Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
- Control the money in the relationship? Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?
Read more at Is This Abuse?
Even if you can see all the clear warning signs of an abuser, it can be hard to say no! Maybe you don’t want to hurt their feelings, or you’re afraid they’ll get angry. If you’re in the US, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call them at 800.799.7233 or TTY 800.787.3224.
How to leave a toxic relationship
Sometimes you have to leave a relationship because it is toxic.
It’s not worth giving up your sense of safety so that your partner can be abusive.
Abusers are often seen as villains rather than victims.
But everyone suffers in a toxic relationship. Abusers suffer when they reinforce giving in to the darkness and violence rather than building patterns of healthy intimacy. People who have grown up with a lot of violence and adversity often have to learn how to love as adults.
Abusers who are motivated to change can very often recover, and learn healthy intimacy, when they have the right support.
Staying with them in an abusive relationship supports the wrong impulses and intentions, so it is the best thing for you and for them to let go and create a lot of distance.
Some queer movies you might like
Bring the tissues, you’re gonna need em.
Trembling Before G-d (2001), an American documentary film about gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews trying to reconcile their sexuality with their faith.
Moonlight (2016) portrays the twin oppression of being black and queer in America.
Paris is Burning (1990) an amazing chronicle of ball culture and vogueing in NYC in the 1980s
Love, Simon (2018) The Wise Kids (2011) follows a group of young members of a South Carolina Baptist church as they confront issues of homosexuality and a crisis of faith.