How to Navigate Heteronormativity

in Entertaiment & LifeStyle/Lifestyle by

By: Aleya Jones

Existing outside of the heteronormative box we live in can be, daunting and exhausting, to say the least. Constant reminders from media outlets, societal norms, showcased relationships, praised leaders, and the systems we function within, make finding a space of internal acceptance seemingly impossible. While some days forecast isolation and ridicule, there are small habits, hobbies, and self-care practices to assist in finding a space of fulfillment within yourself.

Read a biography by an LGBT author
Reading often provides an escape from reality, an opportunity to find relatability within characters and authors, access to knowledge often kept from mainstream outlets. Some of the most profound moments of acceptance and understanding within my own journey as an LGBT woman of color have come from reading books and articles by other women who hold similar identities to mine. While existing in the margins will present challenges in its entirety, reading and learning from others who found a way to be themselves can give you the inspiration needed to continue.

Authors I admire: Gloría E. Anzaldúa, Audre Lorde, Cherríe Moraga, Luis Negrón

Listen to music from LGBT artists
Music is revolutionary. It is a production of sound that can bring people together in unity beyond differences, as its words, beats and messages transpire to ears and realities across the globe. The power within this serves as an essential addition to creating fulfillment within yourself. At times, you may find yourself without words, stuck in an unexplainable emotion trying to understand who you are. In these times, listen to the art created by others existing boldly and brilliantly. Let their words fill your soul in its empty pockets.

Artists who make me feel good: Frank Ocean, Syd the Kid, Angel Haze, Kaytranada

Watch LGBT YouTubers
Zoning out and watching others talk and share their stories of traversing as LGBT individuals makes a difference. In fact, it changed my life. I was not surrounded by many LGBT people of color in my community. Conversations about relationships, development, ideas for the future and so on, revolved around heterosexual ideologies. Finally, I stumbled upon Youtubers who were so authentically themselves on their channels that watching their videos reminded me to remain proud of who I am.

Youtubers I love: Ambers Closest, Ari Fitz, Hartbeat, Foxy

Explore LGBT podcasts
Sometimes the perfect addition to a day is listening to the voices of other LGBT identified people give advice, discuss current events and build community amongst themselves. Podcasts change the media landscape completely. The unexplainable sensations you may feel or experience could very much so be understood through listening to a podcast. Sometimes it is all about relatability through conversation.

Podcast change makers: The Read, Transition Transmission, This Way Out, The Queer Life

Go to LGBT events in your community
A little research goes a long way. It is important to remember you are not the only one in your community navigating outside of heteronormativity. Due to this, there are often events and organizations catered towards creating spaces of inclusivity and new perspectives. Not only are LGBT events important to go to because you may find a lot more comfort in the vibes and atmosphere, it is also an opportunity to network and meet others whom identify within the spectrum.

Write in a journal
My favorite past time has always been between me and my journal. Placing a pen or pencil onto a piece of paper to produce a new piece of writing based in truth, pain and vulnerability is powerful. In that moment it is just you, your reality and an opportunity to let everything out into a journal no one else reads. Learning how to conceptualize your sexuality into the flow of words and ideas garners a new way to exist in your own world,
without guidelines and norms of what you should and should not be.

Create your own art
Pick up a new craft, something you have always admired, yet never given time to. The creative mind is a powerful mind. Art can become your tool for survival. Whether it is painting the thoughts in your head or capturing the moments in your life that made you feel safe through photography, let yourself think creatively amongst the chaos.

Be kind to yourself
While the world around you works to break down your existence, remember to value and praise your presence. Difference is beautiful. We can be our own worst enemy if the perceptions we have of ourselves match the negativity surrounding us. Find time to give yourself positive words of affirmation, bask in your glory, celebrate yourself and know you are perfect just the way you are.

Each of these practices have been helpful tools to exist as my most authentic self in spaces that are not always accepting. Although they do not take away from the oppressive constructs of power in society, they can serve as a basis for learning how to maneuver and exist as yourself. Sometimes the little things make more of an impact on our lives than we realize and give meaning to. As you begin exploring new ways to navigate, challenge yourself to become an innovator and change maker in your community, implementing new ways to survive and
thrive.

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