Humans are relational beings, and having supportive and caring relationships in our life is important. However, building these connections can have its own challenges, particularly for those with marginalized identities. Creating intimacy with others requires vulnerability, and vulnerability is easiest when it’s supported in an emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually safe relationship. Friendships that allow us as Queer(LGBTQIA+) and Trans Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (QTBIPOC) to feel safe and validated in our experiences, are built intentionally. As you navigate this process, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
1. Know your friendship type.
How do you define friendship and what does a good friend look like to you? What do you need to feel emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually safe? These answers will be your guide in knowing what you are looking for and needing as you build deeper relationships with new people. Do some internet searching to help give you some guidance in answering these questions if you need to. This is an important step that will be applicable for years to come.
2. Seek out inclusive spaces
Look for culture events, QTBIPOC or BIPOC organizations, social groups, or events that cater to your specific demographic of individuals. Picking these spaces to meet with individuals you want to connect with can enhance the sense of community and support. You can connect deeper by being surrounded by individuals who share similar experiences and identities. You can find these spaces by visiting LGBTQ+ establishments in your city and looking for flyers about events, you can connect on social media by following different people and establishments that are plugged into the LGBTQ+ community. Another way to find these spaces is to create them! Host a get together!
3. Be open and authentic.
Being open about your identity, values, and experiences can attract like-minded individuals who appreciate and accept you for who you are. Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences honestly with others, fostering an environment of trust and understanding. Don’t be afraid to share your unpopular opinions on subjects, share about an experience you had at work or with your family, introduce them to parts of your culture and interests (gaming, nationality of food or events). Remember to be open: friends don’t have to think exactly like you.
4. Be patient and persistent.
Building meaningful friendships takes time and effort. Not every connection will lead to a lifelong friendship, so be patient and persistent in your efforts to build relationships. Focus on quality connections rather than quantity. If with time, you begin not feeling mutual efforts then that may not be the friend for you at the time and if care and effort is mutual, that’s a great sign of a good potential friend. Some people click and some don’t, some people have different values in friendship, and some are at different points in their life that don’t allow for as much capacity. For your own peace, go about building deeper connections knowing that friendship is not something that can be forced or obligated.
5. Evaluate and nurture your needs.
Know what kind of influences and energy you need around you in order to be your best self. Foster a community and friendships that you want to grow with as a person. Who and what you associate yourself with, and allow, into your emotional and mental spaces can play a large role in reaching your goals as an individual. You are in charge of protecting you, so be intentional with what you nurture.
6 Take care of yourself.
Building relationships can be emotionally challenging, so remember to prioritize self-care. For example, if going to that one thing feels like an obligation then it may be a sign that it is best you take time for yourself. Maybe you had to socialize for an extended period of time and get invited to hang out later in the same day. If your social battery is empty, it is okay to say “I’d love to hang out but I’m not able to make it tonight. Are you free tomorrow?”. Other ways to take care of yourself can be: listening to music or podcasts that encourage you in areas you’re needing encouragement, tend to some plants or repot ones you have, journal, call a close friend. Surround yourself with positive influences, engage in activities that bring you joy, and seek support when needed. Taking care of yourself will help you maintain healthy and fulfilling friendships. As RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?”
Know how you define friendship and if you are ready to show up as that friend, then look for someone that matches your energy! Remember that friendship is a mutual process, and it’s important to invest time and effort into building relationships. Embrace your identity and seek out connections where you feel accepted and valued. By being true to yourself, accepting the era of life you are in, and standing in your power, you will attract friends who appreciate and celebrate you for who you are. If you need some help in getting closer to your truth, finding and embracing your power, or accepting your right-now, seeking out a counselor you feel comfortable with could be a great step!