Coronavirus is changing everyones lives. Isolation for those without a significant other, be that romantic partner, friend, or family member, are finding out the hard way that no man or woman is an island. No matter how shy and retiring, we humans are all social beings, but sadly, some LGBT people are battling more in this pandemic than fear of disease and loneliness.
There are many in our community right who are being forced to quarantine in an environment which may be at best ignorant and at worst downright hostile. Transgender teens could find themselves continually locking horns in lockdown with people who intentionally or otherwise misgender, or refuse to accept them. LGBT people across the globe may find their homes have become veritable pressure cookers, where old differences and misunderstandings could threaten to bubble over and overwhelm already precarious living situations.
Here is a short guide for those who may find themselves enduring life within a non-affirming environment:
The slogan’s true, it’s good to talk. A lot of hurtful behaviour is born of ignorance and you should not be made to feel uncomfortable in your own home. Dr Alexis Chavez, Medical director of The Trevor Project says “Patience and empathy go along way, information about names or pronouns opens up dialogue.” Obviously gage the situation beforehand. Some people are beyond help and may be best dealt with by avoidance. However, others may just need a little education. Send them an article or video (there are many online) which may throw light on various terminologies. Your situation is not theirs, they may be blissfully unaware they are being disrespectful and even grateful for the nudge. It may feel exhausting and demoralising to constantly spell things out to the uninitiated, but the alternative may be more painful all round.
2. Make Use Of Technology
It can be easy to fall back into a world were you are no longer surrounded by people who actively affirm your life. If you have access to social media, utilise Facebook, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp to hook up with like-minded souls. Even a simple text may bring reassurance at this difficult time. There are also a host of online forums which are free and bring connection to LGBTQ people and their allies. Although the internet is certainly fraught with alarmist material and negative news, if utilised responsibly it can provide invaluable support.
Being locked in with people who don’t recognise or appreciate you for being you can be incredibly hard on an individual’s sense of self and well-being. In such environments mental health can take a nose dive, it’s worth recognising this and taking time out to heal the soul. If space allows, find a room, or even little corner of the house or flat to hide away. Meditate, give yourself time to process and reboot your mojo. Be kind to yourself.
4. Utilise Physical Reminders
Keep talismans that remind you of your authentic self close by. A friendship bracelet that signifies your bond to someone now physically out of reach may spark off endless memories of happy times and better times to come. Dust off that rainbow flag and remind yourself the pride we have in our shared LGBT history. If you are separated from a partner, keep their photo handy, if you cannot display it, keep it in your pocket. Never lose touch with your hard-won sense of self.
Finally, look after yourself. Nourish body and mind. Exercise a little daily to keep those endorphins pumping. Reach out to friends and support networks, and always remember you are a child of the universe who deserves to be here as much as any other. You are a cherished member of a wider community, you may be in isolation, but you are not alone.