[ICYMI] Coming Out of COVID
March 23, 2021 | Vincent Kovar
A swiftly spreading plague whose methods of transmission-for a time at least-are mysterious and debated. An equally infectious spread of bigotry, suspicion, and shame. Methods of prevention that are unevenly adopted. A deluge of quack cures, uncaring politicians, inequitable resources. And, of course, deaths-too many deaths.
The LGBTQ community has seen this before. We have survived it before. We not only survived but came out the other side (out of the worst of it anyway) forever changed.
And now, this pandemic has given us the opportunity to change yet again.
Can we do that in isolation? Actually, queer people have always been limited when it comes to finding support and building community. First, it was our sexual orientation in general: it was us vs. the rest of the straight world. Then, we self-segregated by race, dress, mannerism, age, body type... More than any other group, we tend to form microcommunities: bears, pups, twinks, and other labels, who exclusively love/fuck/socialize with specific types.
Maybe-in this lonely era of social distancing-we should ask ourselves if it's time to start unifying again. Who will we be when we emerge from our COVID cocoons? Will our favorite bars survive? How about our clubs, sports teams, and fandoms? Will we fall back into our patterns of "only X" ("masc-4-masc," "21-31," etc.) or "no X" ("no Asians")?
Or maybe we can use this break, this fresh start, to create a new vision for LGBTQIA+ people. Maybe we can use this reset to change.
Maybe, just maybe, this Pride month, we, as a rainbow of communities, can take steps to start a new life.
We can take stock of things outside our own lives. Being trapped-working at home and not being able to socialize in person-can make us myopic and reinforce our existing beliefs. Or it can be a time to challenge them.
Right now is a great time for that. Right now is the time to write long email threads that last for days, or to actually call someone on the phone. Right now is the time to create relationships that are longer than a one-night stand.
Now is also a good time to start believing that other queer people have good in them. Even the ones who seem awful, judgy, bitchy, and stuck up. Believe there is good and even something really attractive in everyone.
Don't just seek to join a community: create one. Find others who dream and hope. Invite those with whom you have nothing in common, those who have been marginalized by "only" or "no" lists. Join the dream of a better world. Group video chats, group pages, email threads, online clubs...
Join the dream of a better world.
Yes, this all sounds a little utopian. Depression rates are rising, substance abuse is increasing, and loneliness is endemic, but the momentum behind the systems that made us feel alone in a crowd is fading.
HIV/AIDS brought us out of the closet and thrust us into the light in a way that gay liberation never did. We will emerge from the recovery phases of COVID, but this time, rather than the focus being on the straight community accepting us, it should be on us accepting each other.
This is can be another coming out.