As the Spring months come rolling in, I could not help but reminisce about the beginning of the pandemic this time last year. I started reflecting on how this past year, all of the unexpected ups and down have forever changed my view of the world, but what stood out in my mind was the impact of these unprecedented times within the LGBTQ+ community.
It’s crazy to think we have been in lockdown (more or less) for a year now. While most like to celebrate anniversaries, this is not one I was excited to see come up, nor one I was expecting. This milestone is an interesting opportunity to look back and see how far we have come…
Throughout the many highs and lows of this worldwide pandemic, the two portrayals that have prevailed over time have been fear & hope, thus there is no other way to describe what the LGBTQ+ community has experienced.
The rise of fear in the queer community
Even though most of us have had to adapt to the home office routine, the zoom calls, the updated office dress code of sweatpants and codependent pets, it seems we were all hired by a bigger company for whom we began working full time: the fear and growth of covid.
While it might seem like time has stopped for the past year, putting our lives on pause, for many, it was even a step backwards. Between losing or repressing your identity to being misgendered by the people closest to you, these quarantine days have been constant aggressions on the LGBTQ+ community.
The universal feeling of fear, uncertainty and panic the whole world felt once the coronavirus pandemic became a global problem was heightened within every minority group.
The most marginalised are always the ones most at risk.
While this virus might not discriminate in its choice of victims, creating this sense of chaos regardless of age, nationality, sexuality or borders, ultimately, “the most marginalised are always the ones most at risk”.
Even though the bulk mask and disinfectant buying craze might seem like a fever dream now, it was only the beginning of a bigger problem. The LGBTQ+ community was disproportionately affected by the unequal redistribution of medical necessities, specifically those forced to move back to more rural areas or with no access to support services.
Being more likely to smoke or have other preexisting health conditions, the LGBTQ+ community, like in so many other aspects of life, started the pandemic with a hindrance.
Everything about this pandemic has highlighted existing structural inequities. This pandemic is highlighting inequities in the LGBTQ community just like it’s highlighting inequities in communities of colour.
- Dr. Barbara Taylor, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases in San Antonio
Many aspects of life covering every letter of the LGBTQ+ community were put on hold: gender-affirming surgeries or even daily chest binding had to be postponed, hormone therapy was either harder to get a hold of or simply suspended.
While solutions and fundraisers were initiated, showing the strength and support within the community, the toll the pandemic had on our mental health cannot be estimated to its full extent.
Seeing a year go by without any physical pride events, gay bars or safe spaces was a difficult adjustment but a beautiful way to challenge thinking outside of the box in order to support people living in difficult or unsafe environments.
How the LGBTQ+ community created a soaring feeling of hope
Hopeless to hopeful in times of uncertainty
As the vaccinations come rolling in and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel I’m sure we can all feel a new sense of relief and hope. Even though there will never be a normality like before, we have forged a new, better normal for ourselves.
The pandemic shed a light on many inequalities within the LGBTQ+ community which allowed us as a whole to focus on its intersectionality.
The lack of local queer groups and events were quickly replaced by more accessible international events and conversations.
This not only allowed more diversity and representation but accessibility for those with limited mobility or anxiety in crowds and unknown spaces.
Many changes were also implemented locally, changing lives through initiatives and laws. The increase of time online and on social media created a surge of activism that was able to be shared moving us towards international collaboration.
The hope I feel now is not blind optimism, it is an assessment of the growth we have achieved even through the worst of times, it is a consequence of the actions carried out to make the world a better place. While the fight against the virus remained uncertain, the fight for equality prevailed creating real change.
The hope I feel now gives me hope for the future but also for the next generation. Isolation gave us a new use for social media, moving towards this beautiful community of online strangers creating relatable and affirming content after many were forced to repress their identity.
We want to know how lockdown and this worldwide pandemic has affected you. If you feel like you need your voice to be heard or have a point of view we haven’t explored, we would love to hear from you! You can comment below to engage in a conversation or contact us to become a writer in a community!
If like many of us you find it hard to express anxiety, loneliness or stress, we recommend visiting How Right Now, an initiative designed to promote and strengthen the emotional well-being and resiliency of populations adversely affected by COVID-19–related stress, grief, and loss.