The struggle is real, guys. The pandemic has been difficult for most people, with job losses and social isolation being real, day-to-day realities, but it’s hit some harder than others which includes the LGBTQ+ people among us. Like we’ve just said, the pandemic has been horrible for most people. Jobs have been lost, homes lost, social isolation on a never before seen scale has become all too prevalent and school closures have meant juggling daily routine with home schooling, or even just childcare. As anyone who has had young children will know, looking after them day in, day out when there isn’t the option to take them to the park, or soft play, or even to see family, can be a cruel existence and especially for single parents. Elsewhere weddings and funerals have taken place with a skeleton guest list and separation from loved ones has extended into months, if not more than a year. And if you’re on, or near, the poverty line then it’s arguably been even worse. Lack of money means a lack of choice – over food, clothing, fuel, etc. All the things that make life a little easier. Plus, houses and flats tend to be on the smaller side which can easily lead to raised tensions, especially in big families, and where there’s raised tensions, tempers fray much more easily. So, why has COVID been particularly tough for the LGBTQ+ group? We’re about to tell you.
- 1.Being forced back to live in the family home. For some, this is the stark reality. Some accommodation has simply been closed, meaning home lost overnight, and for others the price of rent has simply become unaffordable. And by moving home, people might have no choice but to expose themselves to family who might not have known, or face a bleak few months/years trying to hide their true selves. There could be huge disapproval to be faced, and/or stress trying to hide it. Living in close quarters with people who don’t know your true identity is a hugely difficult atmosphere and LGBTQ+’s are much more likely to encounter it than perhaps other people.
- 2.A lack of support network. Overnight, the network of people who you have come to rely on in your day to day life has suddenly been removed from you. Your identity might not be accepted and for some violence is a real possibility. Small disagreements are magnified and if you’ve never come out to your family, and there’s no possibility of doing so for whatever reason, you don’t have friends and acquaintances around you to cushion the emotional blow.
- 3.Likewise, there’s suddenly been no community for support. Living as a transgender, bi, lesbian, etc. is not always easy, and sharing your experiences with others can be a real lifeline. Communities and connections can be vital to wellbeing, even to existence, and safe spaces have gone. All of the bars, cafes, clubs and pubs where likeminded people gather have suddenly gone, meaning a real isolation kicks in, especially if people have had to move miles away from where they were living. Places that people have come to rely on have disappeared, leaving a massive gaps in people’s lives, plus social and community events stopped, making those gaps even larger.
- 4.The feeling of inclusivity in the LGBTQ+ culture has significantly lessened for some people too and it’s easy to see why. Suddenly those easy coffees and nights out with other similar minded people have gone, along with the ability to explore your identity in the company of those with whom you feel safe, and with whom you can relate to.
Overall, the new lives that the pandemic has forced people into can be a very depressing place. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t answers to these problems, in some way at least. How can it be improved? Enough of the negatives and on with the positives!
- Re-connecting with people in a different way. Reaching out through gaming, texting and video calls are a great way to get those people back in your life and it only requires a little extra effort from what you would normally do.
- Look online for support, instead of in person. If you aren’t sure where to start with that one, sites like Queer House Party are a great place to start.
- Check all of the online resources that you can. One of the – very few – benefits of the lockdown situation is that these online resources have become far more sophisticated and plentiful than before. There’s more out there, it’s easier to find and there’s a bigger uptake than there was previously.
- Counselling and support groups. These don’t have to be in-person to make a real difference. There are plenty of people in the same boat who are all looking for that all-important support.
- Explore LGBTQ+ podcasts, TV and films. There’s a lot of stuff out there that might appeal, and that might ease the loneliness if that’s how you’re feeling.
So if you’re one of those who have found themselves in a difficult situation, there are ways to ease the pressure and loneliness. Another bonus might be that you feel able to be more upfront with your family and potentially re-connect there in a way that you haven’t felt able to before. Try and look on the upsides rather than the downsides and hopefully life will return to a semblance of normality before long.