Surviving the Silly Season: Some thoughts about dealing with the end-of-year holidays.
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Printable version available herehere’s how to print as a booklet in Adobe Reader.

Twenty10 is closed over the Christmas and New Year period, so our team has put together a little zine to help y’all navigate the next few weeks.

Twenty10 closes at 5pm on Wednesday, 23rd December, 2020 and services will reopen on Monday 4th January, 2021.

Some thoughts about the holidays 

The holiday season can be really exciting for some – summer is here, and there are celebrations around every corner. For others though, all of this commotion can leave us feeling a bit overwhelmed, anxious, sad or stressed.

Whether you enjoy the silly season or not, our end of year zine is intended to provide everyone with some helpful information, resources and activities to help us all navigate this time of year in a way that feels safe and empowering.

We’ve broken the zine into 6 sections – use the links below to jump to that section on this page.

We hope you enjoy our little zine, but more importantly, that you have a safe and enjoyable holiday period. Take care and enjoy!

A bottle filled with a pink potion

Strategising for survival!

1. Don’t Swallow the Hype

The holiday season can be intense, hey? Sheesh. Stores, shopping centres, TV, internet and radio advertisements turn this time of year into a circus – they work hard to tell us what our holiday season should be. Sure, glitter and lights can be fun, but the holidays aren’t just about flashy decorations, happy families and expensive gifts. At this time of year, there is a lot of pressure to live a life of buying things, and centering Judeo-Christian beliefs at the expense of all others. Even if you’re aware of these things, getting bombarded by the hype can often give us unrealistic, sometimes stressful expectations!

It’s ok if you don’t believe or want to participate in Christmas. You’re not a bad person and you’re certainly not alone! For many of us, the things represented by the holiday period are emotional, painful and triggering. For many of us the silly season is a fun time, not awful at all. It can be a mix of both. People have all kinds of ways of interacting with family and the traditions behind the holiday period. Whatever works for you is valid.

Christmas and other end-of-year holidays have special meaning for some folks, but not for everyone. With this knowledge, take a moment to reflect:

What is important for you at this time of year?

What meaning do you attach to it?

However you answer these questions is valid.

2. Be Active

Getting enough fresh air, exercise and activity might feel daunting for some: not everyone is a marathon runner, or has any interest in the gym! However, being active can be really simple and involve some pretty easy things to do.

It might simply mean that you spend time in a different part of the house, or that you take some time to rearrange things the way you like them. Simply getting out of your bedroom/house is a great thing to achieve, and can be tailored to your interests. You could do some guided stretches or yoga, meditation, or go for a walk/run around your neighbourhood. Depending on your energy, it could be travelling home by a new way, or going to the shops in the next suburb over. You could also pair these activities with podcasts or music, if that’s your thing!

3. Get Some Nature

Nature can be really positive for our wellbeing, both physical and mental. It might be nice to go on an exploring mission – to some bushland (the National Park? or to a new neighbourhood or suburb?). Google Maps is an excellent place to start checking things out!

Bear in mind that at this time of year bushfires can be very prevalent and can impact how many of us can experience the outdoors, even in the city! Heading to the park or the pool may be more accessible ways to get some outside time, if the bush or beach feel a bit harder. Either way, remember: it’s summer, so think about sunscreen, hats & bringing some water. Also think about the fact that often many other people and families have had the same idea as you and may be heading outdoors as well. So if you’re feeling anxious or triggered by family stuff this time of year, safety plans and back-ups are really useful too.

4. Start New Traditions

If Christmas (or another end-of-year holiday) just isn’t relevant to you perhaps starting your own tradition is something useful. If you find that many of your friends also feel alienated, alone or freaked out by Christmas, starting an annual event that supports and acknowledges that this is often a really hard time, could be really helpful for all.

It may be a hang out in the park, a dinner, a trip to the movies, or visiting somewhere exciting and adventuresome. It might involve taking time to hang out with close friends before (to inspire strength & courage) or after (to debrief and process) Christmas.

5. Be Aware of Your Family Dynamics

Not everyone enjoys the increase in family time, over the holidays. In fact, your family and friends may be the source of your holiday blues. Of course, you may not be able to change your family dynamics, but you can ask yourself: how do your family and friends affect you?

Sometimes surviving Christmas can be about finding ways to shorten or eliminate the experiences that leave you feeling bad. Consider taking some “me time” breaks during family time to spend with yourself doing the things you enjoy. Connecting with people, or places that are comforting and nurturing during the Christmas time is helpful, be that in person, over the phone or online.

6. Make A Plan

If Christmas is a hard time, maybe making a plan of what you’ll do on the day & the public holidays afterwards can be a good addition to your coping strategies. This might mean taking to time to talk with your Counsellor or Case Manager, or your friends and support network, before the holiday to make a plan. A good starting point might be to identify a trusted person, friend or family ally to do that with.

7. Get Offline (or online in a different way!)

Spending a lot of time on social media isn’t always great for your wellbeing but here are some accounts to follow for wholesome content, when you need a little pick-me-up

A pixelated starfruit.

How To Face Difficult Conversations At The Dinner Table

That awkward moment when your uncle pipes up with a racist/homophobic/transphobic rant at holiday dinner doesn’t have to be so hard. It’s been a difficult year for most, so getting through the holidays the best way you can is our tip for staying safe.

It can be difficult to stay calm when someone at the table is talking about topics you are passionate about or that sit close to the heart. You may not be able to educate them or change their perspective, but you can take care of yourself. Is butting heads or altering your uncle’s world view really the best use of your time and energy? If you answered yes, go for it! Be the change you wish to see in the world. If you answered no, let it slide. Try and practice some soothing self-care regardless of how you navigate these difficult situations. (Go for a walk outside, excuse yourself to the bathroom, phone a friend or support person, listen to your favourite song.)

A note on privilege:

It is often left to those most marginalised in our communities to defend themselves in situations where people are being transphobic or racist. A symbol of care over the holidays might be advocating for those who society affords less privilege than we hold ourselves. For example, a cis person speaking up for trans rights or a white person educating those around them about racism. If you see an opportunity, speak up or speak out!

A pixelated diamond.

Some Tips For Partying Safely

The silly season is often a time of get togethers, parties & lots of expectation to celebrate!

  • Is a party & lots of people ok for you?
  • Is drinking, using other drugs, or being around intoxicated folks good for you?
  • Do you know the people you’re partying with?

If you’re going out on the scene (or anywhere), here are a few things you can do to help you and your friends stay safe.

Be aware of how much you’re drinking/taking, how, and what you’re taking.

If someone is offering you drugs or alcohol, consider why they want to do this and perhaps what they may do if you became intoxicated. Drugs and alcohol alter people’s thinking and behaviour. If you have questions about their effects and what may happen when you drink or take more than one drug at a time, you can talk to a Youth Worker or check ReachOut.  If you have questions about a friend or family member’s drug or alcohol use, you can call the Family Drug Support Help Line 1300 368 186 (24 Hrs).

Be aware of homophobia/transphobia when you’re out on the street & in clubs.

Communicate with pals where you are and what your plans are. If you’re moving between venues, try not to do so alone – get some friends to come with you.

Be aware of drink spiking

Always watch the bartender mix your drink (even if someone else is buying it for you) and never leave your drink unattended.

Look out for your each other

If you see someone who appears to be ill from alcohol and/or other drug use, get help immediately by contacting staff or calling for an ambulance. They’re trained to help in these situations, not dob.

Be aware of safe sex practices and how to effectively negotiate these with your sexual partner/s

Check out the relevant Sex + Sexual Health resources (such as ACON or PlaySafe). Be aware that your ability to get consent from a partner for sex is greatly reduced when intoxicated.

Know your rights and obligations

Taking care of your health is important, but so is knowing what you’re allowed to do. Fair Play is a website to inform, support and educate members of the LGBTIQ community on health, safety and rights issues when attending Mardi Gras events, particularly where police drug operations occur. While it focuses on Mardi Gras, the info is on this page relevant for any kind of partying you do and what your rights are on the scene

A cluster of three potion bottles.

5 Tips For Taking Care Of Your Trans Self These Holidays

Many of us will spend the holidays with folks who either don’t know much about, or don’t respect, our identities.

In order to combat some of these issues, we’ve come up with these 5 handy tips for protecting yourself from uncomfortable interactions through the holidays. It’s a bit of a mixed bag—some of it might really work for you, some might not, and some might need a bit of tweaking to work properly.

Hopefully, though, with the right set of tools, we can make the holidays easier to navigate.

1. Safety First

Often, when we hear our identities being talked about, we get to feeling pretty angry. It can be super easy to respond to a drunk uncle being homophobic by outing ourselves in order to challenge their messed up beliefs—like, “Listen here, Uncle Fred, I’m gay and…”

You are entitled to bring people into your gender identity or sexuality whenever this feels safe and good for you personally. If this is the time – that’s excellent.

But for some, revealing our truth can compromise safety, stability and maybe even connections to family that you might value.  If this isn’t the right time for you, you don’t have to sacrifice yourself for some cis/hetero family member’s enlightenment. The reality is, your safety is much, much more important than your uncle’s rantings.

If you would like to challenge that rant, some alternative ways to do that might be to speak in generalities, or to use some statistics (“Actually Uncle Fred, statistics tell us that children raised by same-gender parents are more likely to be healthy, happy and well-adjusted”).

2. Phone A Friend

Sometimes, the hardest part of the holidays is being away from friends who affirm our gender and/or sexuality—whether that’s because you’re on school holidays or on a family road trip. If you know you’re going to be around family who don’t affirm your gender and sexuality, it can be helpful to enlist a friend or two to be your emergency contacts—people who can send you messages of support when other people’s comments on your sexuality and/or gender are getting exhausting and/or infuriating.

Some tips:

  • Come up with a code-word or emoji bat signal that could let your friends know you’re in need of some LGBTIQA+ TLC.
  • Think about some ways that friends could help affirm you long distance—by calling you your correct name, using your correct pronouns, or by sending you memes, or pictures of you folks looking fabulous.
  • One thing to consider with this tip is whether you’re likely to be crammed in the backseat with a snooping sibling, or whether a parent is likely to check out the contents of your phone.

For lots of different reasons, you might feel a little uncomfortable about calling a friend—or it might be really tricky to identify someone you could be super vulnerable with in this stressful time. If this is the case, QLife will be open over the holidays from 3pm to midnight every day over the Christmas and new year period. You can call them on 1800 184 527, or find their online chat by heading to qlife.org.au.

3. Note To Self

Sometimes the best affirmations are the ones we give ourselves. If you feel like you might need a reminder to be gentle with yourself over the holidays, one option might be to write yourself a note that reassures you, reminds you, or otherwise might help protect you from stressful situations.

This could be a “You Are Lisa Simpson” style note that reinforces your correct name and pronouns, but it might also be a little note about how excellent/clever/brave/gay you are, that there are people who love you, or that this holiday season will end and you will get to back to your regular life.

It might be helpful to reflect on how you’ve felt at similar family events in the past, or even what kind words you might offer to a friend if they were going to experience the same thing.

4. Use Your Resources

Is there a YouTuber you really resonate with? Music you love? Hilarious memes? A podcast that really helps you out? Whether it’s a book, spoken word poetry, or an app on your phone, lots of us have spent time collecting things that make us feel more comfortable in our own bodies.

Some ways to protect ourselves over the holidays:

  • Make a YouTube or Spotify playlist
  • Line up a bunch of podcasts
  • Bring some games
  • Collect a few good books

Make sure you have a whole collection of things that make you feel good and comfortable in your sexuality and/or gender. This stuff can be really helpful in reminding us not only that we are excellent, but also that there is a whole world outside of Aunt Meg’s Christmas lunch that understands our gender and sexuality and embraces them.

However, keep in mind that “What are you watching/reading/listening to?” and “Get off your dang phone!” are some folks’ family members’ favourite phases. Making sure your books have inconspicuous covers and titles or thinking about some safe ways to describe your favourite trans podcasts might be something to think about.

5. Guerrilla Gender Warrior

It’s excellent for you if you feel perfectly comfortable being your fabulous genderqueer self at every family event. However, family gatherings might see you in clothes that feel uncomfortably distant from your usual gender presentation or with a gender that resonates with you.

Sometimes cis drag really is the best option—and of course, your gender identity is real and valid and important regardless of the clothes you’re wearing. But if cis drag is getting you down, or making you feel less than at home in your own body, one strategy can be to wear something super gender affirming that’s either hidden or less than noticeable.

This might be the underwear you feel works best for you, a cool watch that reminds you of better times (and outfits), a few jelly bracelets, a small earring (or two)—little things that might not be eye catching, but that you can look at or think about when other people’s reading of your gender starts to weigh you down.

Things To Do During The Break

Looking for things to do during the break? City of Sydney’s What’s On directory is a great place to start. Not in Sydney? Check your local council or library for inspiration.

Free Things to Do

Eventbrite has a list of free activities and you can search in your area.

NSW Events & Festivals | Official NSW Tourism Website (visitnsw.com)

Support Available During the Break

If you need practical support during the end of year period, such as help with food or housing, The Junction Neighbourhood Centre and Newtown Neighbourhood Centre have information on services that are open.

For access to reduced cost and free groceries, try the Addison Road Food pantry or the Oz Harvest supermarket in Waterloo. If neither of these are accessible or for anything else try Ask Izzy.

Resources, Numbers and Websites

QLife 1800 184 527 or qlife.org.au/ for LGBTIQA+ specialised and anonymous online chat
Telephone and Web Counselling and Information Line operates 7 days from 3pm –  midnight (Includes Christmas Day!)

Lifeline 13 11 14
Telephone counselling 24-hour a day, any day of the week from anywhere in Australia. 

TransHub 
An excellent resource for trans and gender diverse folks and their families, friends and allies

Family Drug Support Help Line – 1300 368 186 (24 Hrs)
Telephone counselling offering support for people who have family with a drug dependency issue.

Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
24 hour counselling service for young people aged 5-25 years. Counselling is offered by phone, email and over the web. Check the Kids Helpline website for info on email & web counselling.

ReachOut  
Provides young people with the information, help, support, advice and connections they need to manage mental health difficulties

Inside Out
Provides young people and the people who care for them, with resources, information and support around eating disorders

The Butterfly Foundation 
Provides young people with support around an eating disorder or disordered eating. The holidays can be a difficult time for folks who are struggling with their relationships with food

Youth BeyondBlue 
Online resources/support around anxiety & depression.

ICLC (Inner City Legal Centre) 
A non profit community based legal centre that provides specialist LGBTIQA+ legal advice. You can call them on 0466 724 979.

Link2Home (Emergency Accommodation Line) – 1800 152 152
Call centre with information on emergency accommodation options for you, they can make referrals and organise a place to stay.

Remember you, your experience, your gender and your sexuality are valid. You belong, and we are glad to have you as part of the Twenty10 Community.

Wishing you the very best for this holiday season and to a safe and wonderful start to 2021.

— The folks at Twenty10

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