Queerness, Self-Love, and Tamagotchis

in Blog/Weekly

Living as a queer person in a heteronormative society takes a lot of guts. It’s not easy to exist in an identity that doesn’t fit with the norms of our culture. It also takes a whole lot of self-love.

It’s no surprise that rates of suicide are still markedly higher in LGBTQIA+ youth than they are in the general population. As it is with any difference, those who don’t fit into the “in-group” suffer concrete psychological consequences. While we all know that this is a problem with our culture and not our identities, we also know that we can’t expect anything to change if we don’t start with ourselves.

Self-love, a concept with roots in Buddhist ideology, can have radical effects on our well-being. As queer people, we have to work hard at loving ourselves in the midst of a culture that says we aren’t worth it.

It doesn’t matter how long Ellen has been on TV, or that Miley dated a girl once–the deep historical roots of homophobia and transphobia aren’t going away any time soon.

One useful strategy for practicing self-love is to think of yourself as a tamagotchi. For those who weren’t around in the 90’s, tamagotchis were tiny digital pets that sometimes came along with Happy Meals from McDonalds. You had to feed them, clean up their poop, and play with them. Otherwise they would get sick and die.

Like Pokemons, Tamagotchis went through different stages of growth. The level of care they received from their owner had a big effect on their development–the more care they got, the happier, smarter, and more independent they were as adults.

To cultivate self-love, it helps to get in touch with your needs. Because we’re so focused on productivity and taking care of the other people in our lives, we often don’t even realize when we’re hungry, or overtired, or could use a shower. Cultivating the awareness to recognize what your body needs is revolutionary: Eating a snack, taking a nap, or scheduling some time for a hobby can lift your mood in huge and unexpected ways.

Capitalism tells us that we aren’t worth anything unless we’re constantly accomplishing and producing. According to this cultural logic, taking a moment to yourself equals wasted time. But think of how satisfying it was to hear those happy robotic beeps after feeding your tamagotchi as a kid! And how all your work paid off when it grew up to be a self-sufficient, intelligent adult!

It’s a pretty simple analogy: Find little ways to take care of yourself, fight to make time for the things that restore you, and it will pay off. As Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

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