Kiwis Surviving Self-Isolation: The Team at OUTLine

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On top of the massive struggle the world is facing with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are unique ways in which this will be tough for rainbow folks. Express spoke to the team at OUTLine to get their rainbow specific tips to help you make it through this lockdown in one piece.

James Malcolm, Communications Coordinator (He/Him)

Keeping social is a really important part of keeping my mind healthy. I’ve set up a group chat with my circle of friends and we talk about silly little things and trade memes all day to stay connected. We’ve even kept up our weekly Friday tradition of board games night alive through video chats and are having group RuPaul’s Drag Race viewings via the Netflix Party App.

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It’s all about balance though, sometimes you do need a bit of space especially being stuck with the same people for an extended period of time. Try and find an area of the house that’s just yours where you can be by yourself when flatmates, family and/or partners all get a bit too much. For me, it’s my room, but it could be anywhere. I value my alone time so dearly when I can just lay down and listen to a podcast (recommendations include Reply All, Heavyweight and Boners Of The Heart).

My biggest piece of advice is not to be afraid to ask for help. This is a tremendously difficult time for everyone and it’s totally normal to be struggling and need extra support, you are not a burden and there are still support services in place during lockdown. There are many counselling services that are still operating remotely using video calls, including OUTLine’s counselling service which you can sign up for on our website.

Leilani Thompson-Rikys, Peer Support Coordinator (They/Them)

The lockdown can bring up lots of old feelings and past trauma for people. Whatever you feel is ok. Allow yourself to cry. Be gentle with yourself if you’re scared and anxious. Remind yourself that you’re resilient and that you will get through this too.

A lot of people are trapped in homophobic, transphobic, queerphobic spaces. Try to create a space inside your room where you can be yourself. Find a picture or photo that represents your rainbow identity and use it to ground yourself or meditate with.

For trans folk – we need to allow ourselves to feel authentically ourselves even if it’s just for a moment. Find something that creates gender euphoria for you. I’ve been recommending folx use scent – even with most shopping shut down you might be able to find a soap or body wash or a fruit tea. Other people are using music or a particular piece of clothing. Find something that gives you joy.

I really recommend that people find spaces online where people are supportive and affirming of your gender. There are already Facebook groups and discords where you can do this and OUTLine’s transgender and non-binary peer support service is setting some peer support groups so get in touch with us.

Aych McArdle, Board Member (They/Them)

When I’m anxious and worried I tend to hold it in my body. A headache or sore tummy is often a reminder that I’m feeling overwhelmed.  During lockdown, I’m trying to remember to move my body and stretch when I’m feeling restless. Wiggling my jaw around after brushing my teeth, stretching my calves while I wait for the kettle to boil, taking breaks from the computer to combat bad posture. 

My favourite lockdown activity so far is phoning a friend while going for a daily walk – endorphins and connection! If you’re not sure who to call, OUTLine’s support line is running remotely throughout lockdown and our volunteers are really keen to hear from you! Our number runs 6pm-9pm at 0800 OUTLINE.

Claire Black, General Manager (She/Her) 

Try to keep a routine. If you’re working from home, keep clear boundaries between work time and downtime if you can. If you’re not working, it can still help to keep a sense of structure. But remember to be nice to yourself. It might be hard to be as productive as usual, or you might feel like you need to do something productive with your time – don’t beat yourself up, it’s totally normal to find regular things harder at the moment. 

Stay informed, but this doesn’t mean reading news 24/7. Perhaps set aside a certain period or a few reliable sources of information to focus on.

Find some queer content to consume. You might feel disconnected from your rainbow communities at the moment. One thing that might help is reading, listening to, watching or playing queer media. If you’re feeling disconnected, engage with rainbow organisations. Aotearoa’s rainbow organisations are all finding new ways of supporting and engaging with our communities. OUTLine has a bunch of cool things in the works so keep an eye on our social media for updates.

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