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This Lady Lowdown article is by Autumn Mergel-- oncology trained Advanced Esthetician who specializes in clean and sustainable self-care. Connect through Instagram via @portland_aesthetic

pride 2020 was put aside, as were the rest of our lives.

Many of us lost jobs, sleep, security, and peace of mind. Family and friends became our own personal essential workers. However, for myself and many others, there had been a noticeable lack of those essential workers in our lives long before the pandemic. The lack of support started first when we accepted ourselves, and again when we outed ourselves. Being LGBTQ has often been about survival and a critical piece of being human is working with others to reach common goals. Yet for many queer people, working with others can be an unaffordable or unattainable luxury. 

choosing our family, an often unspoken, yet fundamental technique to survive, is rarely understood by those outside of our circle.

Friends become siblings, cousins, and sometimes parental figures in the absence of acceptance from those we have lost through our journey of self-love and self-acceptance. This beautiful practice of caring and loving one another has been passed down from generation to generation, from friend to friend; it is a unique strength that creates life-long bonds and communities too strong to be torn down by violence, hate or pandemics. A community created through necessity and sustained through love; our community is there when you need it, if you only find the courage to reach out and engage. Something so simple, yet often frightening for myself, is associating with my LGBTQ identity out of fear I could be targeted verbally or physically. Learning to push aside this fear can feel like a monumental task even in the best of circumstances.

yet through the pandemic, I have learned that fear stood in the way of my LGBTQ pride.

Not simply just a rallying cry or symbol; pride is a state of being. Pride in your mind, body, and soul is sustenance. Armed with pride, we are an immovable force for change, love and survival. By choosing our friends and our family, our pride will always be stronger than blood, and certainly stronger than hate. You are not alone. You are loved, you are strong, you are hope, and most importantly, you are beautiful inside and out. Repeat these words to yourself every day in the mirror until you believe it. This act of self-care may bring tears to your eyes. Smile through them and never stop until you believe the words you speak. I love you. We love you. May this world never take your spirit, and may it never take your pride.

Resources for LGBTQ support can be found at

If you or something you know if struggling with suicidal thoughts please reach out to The Trevor Project, TrevorLifeLine is a crisis intervention and suicide prevention phone service aviable 24/7/365 which can be reached at 1-866-488-7386. Alternatively you can receive support using TrevorChat, a confidential online instant messaging service with a Trevor Counselor using a computer or through a mobile device by texting START to 678-678

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