Valentine’s day is supposed to be about spreading love. And yet, for the LGBTI community, we all too often forget to love ourselves.
Many of us growing up are told that our core identity makes us sinful. That our desire for same-sex love is something to despise and hate.
I grew up protestant Christian, so I would often hear the infamous phrase ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ in church.
But being gay, bi or anywhere on the LGBTI spectrum is not sinning.
It’s part of who we intrinsically are as human beings. So what they’re telling us is to hate ourselves.
The words some used at the church were part of the reason it took me a long time to realize that not only was it ok to be gay – but that I couldn’t change who I was.
As such, I do not identify as a Christian any longer. But I will echo the words of the Bible where it states that we are all beautifully and wonderfully made.
In our community, we sometimes need a reminder of just how beautiful and wonderful we all are.
All the handsome buff twinks
This week at National Student Pride, watching and filming the panel discussion on body confidence, I was reminded of how disproportionately prevalent eating disorders and mental health problems are in our community.
UK TV doctor Dr Ranj Singh pointed out that 4 in 10 men with eating disorders are gay or bi. So it’s no surprise we also have disproportionately high rates of suicide, mental illness, and low body confidence.
The roots of these disorders cannot be blamed entirely on religion, patriarchy or even just anti-LGBT sentiment – we have to look within our community too.
When LGBTI media consistently celebrate an image of a buff handsome white man as the representation of what it is to be ‘beautiful’ – it becomes easy to see how so many men feel insecure about their bodies.
Furthermore, it’s easy to see how that insecurity leads to eating disorders and depression.
The reality behind every LGBTI portrayal in the media is that we exist in infinite forms. We can be plus size, skinny, average, or anything in between. There is no ‘one way’ to be LGBTI.
We’re still LGBT+, and we’re still deserving of love and respect.
Channeling your inner RuPaul, and love yourself.
One of the hardest times I had with loving myself was when I started drag. I wasn’t very talented at anything right at the start.
My looks were ugly, and my sisters who were just starting out seemed infinitely more talented and beautiful than me.
I felt intimidated, and the drag community around me didn’t make it any easier. If you’re ugly and talentless, the drag community will often let you know, whether to your face or through whispers. It’s easy to feel suffocated and destroyed by the catty and bitchy elements of our community.
Despite that, there are many drag queens who were kind and supportive of me, and I decided after a year of doing drag that I wanted to transform my drag into something exclusively positive and uplifting.
I started to perform spoken words about body positivity and loving yourself. I’ve never felt better about my drag character Bella Tempus.
My looks are still pretty sub-par, and my audition for RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 last year was pretty rough. But I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m having fun spreading love through my videos.
That’s what matters more than the negative comments and hate that we can no longer ignore being perpetuated within our community.
This Valentine’s day – focus on loving yourself.
Whether single or not, let this year’s Valentine’s Day be the year of self-love and acceptance, from body confidence to mental health and beyond.
With a holiday drowned out by commercialization and laments at singledom, this article may seem like an over exhausted cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate.
You deserve love, and you deserve respect. But you can’t just expect to get it from other people – you need to give it to yourself first.
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