by Dan Singh
I write this short blog with optimism on a cloudy and rainy day knowing there will be some sun this week. It is with renewed hope we are moving towards a manageable pandemic-free world, where there is a greater focus on our physical, mental, emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual wellbeing.
Once again, we can start to build our trust and resilience and be kinder to ourselves, each other and to the communities that we live within and are valuable part of; perhaps to learn together how we celebrate the differences we have and how we speak up about the things that are affecting us all, without fear or silence.
To have calm conversations and ‘calling out’ or perhaps ‘calling IN’ when necessary; and for men to continue to talk and express to each other how they (we) all feel.
Checking in on our privilege as men and supporting one another by reflecting from within and outside our gender and from alternate perspectives and viewpoints.
Recognising that talking is only one way of expression; it is ‘okay not to be okay’, so long as this is not an everyday feeling.
We need to work out ways how to reduce our minority stress and increase our resilience without being reduced to acronyms or classed as people that are ‘hard to reach’. I believe people are never hard to reach; in listening to those who are not accessing services to see what barriers can be pulled down and re-constructed in relation to equality and equity; going beyond electronic surveys by setting up community focus groups for LGBT+ people and allies amongst diverse communities that matter now.
We need to make sure absent or silent community leaders and champions step up as LGBT+ allies and be proactively involved and work with us, so a future generation can talk about their feelings. How can we also enable this and what can we do in general? So ‘men’s health week’ this year is focusing on the ‘can do’ challenge.
Men’s Health Forum states:
“The five ways to wellbeing are five things we can all do that are scientifically proven to help us feel better. For the CAN-DO Challenge, we’re calling on everyone to choose a different way to wellbeing to try each day of Men’s Health Week.”
The five ways are:
- Connect – connect with other people #ConnectMonday
- (Be) Active – move your body #ActiveTuesday
- Notice – take notice of the environment around you #NoticeWednesday
- Discover – learn something new #DiscoverThursday
- Offer (or give) – do something for someone else #OfferFriday
I have coped by trying to reduce my own anxieties around Covid and practicing self-care that works for me. Having both vaccinations has helped and knowing that my loved ones have too gives me less anxiety. I have accepted that some days are going to be better than others. Staying in touch with friends and family, trying new things (like drawing, reading, watching world cinema etc), going to Zoom events to learn more knowledge or for social reasons, staying off chat apps as often as possible (and not being glued to the news), going for daily walks, being in as much green space as possible and helping neighbours, family or friends who need practical and emotional support; making sure I have a good sleep routine, all helps.
I see ‘self-care’ as a very individual approach to managing the everyday. I sometimes ask questions like… What has worked for me before? What is not working? Who can I talk to? What social groups or platforms are out there? What have been my successes in the past three years? What daily or weekly goals are realistic to achieve? How do I connect back to my South Asian culture?
Being a South Asian gay man, I feel further disconnected from my Punjabi culture because there have been no weddings, no parties, no Gurdwara gatherings but I have found some fabulous people by attending social groups such as, Sarbat LGBT, Gay Indian Network, Taraki, The Open Minds art project, to name a few. This has been an uplifting experience – just connecting with other South Asian LGBT+ people and listening, discussing, and taking part in creative events. I look forward to physically meeting up with members too. Hopefully, a picnic in the park soon.
So, there is hope on the horizon and whether we continue to meet online or physically it is very important that we keep listening, talking, and seeing others as this is our moment to shine through our lived experiences.
Another strange day. It is now cloudy with a burst of sunshine as I finish this blog. Let us hope the tide is turning for the better in these strange and difficult times.
Sexual Health and Wellbeing Worker at Birmingham LGBT.
0121 643 0921