Queer Shift

Movement — SHIFT

The gay civil rights movement has had the greatest success in the least amount of time of any previous civil rights movement. To that, many say it’s our time, our turn, our equality, but you’ve got to admit the “movement” is challenging to keep up with, particularly when change is so utterly breakneck and breathless in speed.

The 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York’s Greenwich Village, which began when patrons at a gay bar violently resisted a police raid, are considered the flashpoint of the modern gay rights movement. Forty plus years is a considerable length of time fighting for equality within the movement.

In 1958, the Gallup Poll asked Americans whether they approved or disapproved of marriage between blacks and whites. The response was overwhelming: 94 percent were opposed; a sentiment that held for decades. It took nearly 40 years until a majority of those surveyed said marriage between people of different colors was acceptable.

By contrast, attitudes toward gays and lesbians have changed so much in just the last 10 years that, as Gallup reported last week, “half or more now agree that being gay is morally acceptable, that gay relations ought to be legal, and that gay or lesbian couples should have the right to legally marry.” (In 1996, when Gallup first asked about legalizing same-sex marriage, 68 percent of Americans were opposed.)

You’ve got to admit that visionary planning and processes, passage of protective laws, compounded progress from the past, present and future are astoundingly favorable for queers. The last decade has been a whirlwind of outcome for the gays. Who can remain fully invested, at full tilt boogie with our history changing monthly, weekly, daily, if not hourly? It’s easy to become fatigued, overwhelmed, played out and exhausted.

Remaining highly engaged, invested, constantly informed and passionate takes a personal maintenance plan to prevent burnout or, and what I am lately calling, queer weariness.

I believe we all can learn to have more control over the way we survive the constant onslaught of the movement, all the while maintaining a steady passion for it. So here are some suggestions, tips if you would, for maintaining the passion.

1 — Live a whole, happy and healthy life

The kind of passion I am referring to is fueled by a wellness lifestyle.

2 — Know yourself

One of the things that is crucial to maintaining passion throughout your life is knowing yourself. The more you know about when and where to invest your skills, abilities and talents, the more you will remain fully engaged. Know what truly drives you, and you will most certainly stay driven.

3 — Always do what you believe is right for you

Positive, enduring passion is fueled by purity of soul, purpose, and for what’s fair and right. Know your own true North in the movement.

4 — Keep a routine that helps you remain enthused and focused on the bigger goal

Figure out the daily tasks, events and rituals that help you stay on task and motivated in the movement. Also consider life balance, and just how much time you can give to the bigger, ultimate goal.

5 — Learn from your mistakes, don’t dwell on them

Learn from your history’s mistakes and you won’t repeat them.

6 — Always have a healthy escape ready at a moments notice

Know what are ‘healthy escapes’ for you. Because when the walls start to feel like they’re closing in, you’ll be glad you have a healthy haven where to run.

7 — Encourage others

One of the great things about encouraging another human being is that you are almost always encouraged in the process. When you are telling someone to never give up, to keep pushing forward, there’s a part of you that is saying the same to yourself.

8 — Always listen but don’t always believe

It’s very easy to disregard what people say. But in doing so we can miss out on some great advice. There are also a lot of negative ideas going on all the time that are just waiting to sabotage your passion and desire to succeed. So learn to distinguish between the constructive advice and the destructive nonsense that often spews from other people’s and organization’s mouths.

9 — Stay involved, particularly when you don’t feel like it

Having interaction with others and involvement in critical movement activities is a great thing. A clear mind is essential.

10 — Know when to throttle back

Sometimes it’s just better to back off a little and give yourself a break. When you start to reach your breaking point, slow down, give yourself a physical and emotional rest. Rejuvenate, recharge, re-engage in the movement.

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