The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for LGBT+ people reach across the planet and touch so many lives, often in the most unexpected ways.
All Out has asked members around the world to share how the global health crisis has affected them and their loved ones. Their "voices from the silence" provide insight into LGBT+ lives under lockdown: stories of hope, fear, loss and courage.
"I'm a lesbian girl. I live with my family. The truth is that things are going well around here, although I have to admit that having to study a lot is very overwhelming and sometimes I don't do it (I haven't done it in 3 weeks).
There are days when I fight with my family, especially my father, about my way of thinking and, of course, about my sexuality. He does make some very misogynistic and homophobic comments. I'm out of the closet, so yes, he does make those comments intentionally, but I don't let him ruin my days.
I hope you all feel good and are staying at home. Your friend sends you good vibes. ❤️"
Anonymous, Mexico City, Mexico
"The greatest anxiety is not having to stay at home, but staying in a house that I don't love, in a town that I don't love, and the ambulance sirens blaring right outside my house. The greatest burden is having to share this house with my parents, not so much for my mother, but certainly it is very hard having to put up with my father. A father who has no respect for me and shows it as soon as he gets the chance."
Mara, Bergamo, Italy
"Hi, I'm Sebastián, I'm 32 years old, I'm gay and I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The quarantine caught me without a job. In January, I stopped working where I was working before, what seemed like an opportunity because I was going to move to Europe. It became a problem when all the borders were closed.
I am living on my unemployment insurance and my savings, but at the same time I am super grateful and aware that I am a privileged person who has a roof over their head and can cover all their basic needs to live.
I miss my family a lot. Even though they are in the same city where I live I haven't seen them since the beginning of March. I miss my friends. I miss real contact.
Sebastián, Buenos Aires, Argentina
"How has my life changed in social isolation? Not a lot really. I've been socially isolated for at least ten years, and I learned to adapt and that's OK. I'm 56. I was very social up to my early forties - travel, partying, boyfriends and friends... But then health problems left me house bound for a while and my career ended. I started a small business from home, got a dog, and my social life is hanging out with friends at the dog park. I've spoken with gay friends more in the last few weeks than I have for years. That's nice. It's mostly because their lives have been turned upside down by lockdown, and they have more time to chat. But one final thought... The last ten years made me realize, the LGBT 'community' doesn't exist for me. Once I didn't have the looks, the money to go out, or the desire to hook up - there was no community. I see gay friends maybe every few months."
David, England, UK
"My name is Alejandro Daniel, I'm a 15-year-old trans boy. Since this COVID-19 thing started, and we were quarantined, I have had to learn to deal with and endure insults, beatings and criticism from my parents. They don't accept the fact that I'm trans.
Every day and night it's the same: crying, anxiety attacks, asking for this martyrdom to end. Several times I have tried to kill myself, to end all this pain and suffering, but then I start thinking that I must be strong, I want to fulfill my dreams and be happy at last.
Honestly, it's a hard thing to go through, but it does teach me a lesson after all: I am strong and I can fight, I can resist and keep going in spite of everything, it is only a "test" that I will manage to pass and then this will be no more than a bad memory."
Alejandro Daniel, Zacatecas, Mexico
"The nightlife in the city where I live is dead because of crime. So whether it's because of health restrictions or not, confinement is inevitable."
Guillermo Guzmán Amar, Reynosa, Mexico
"I worry more about coronavirus than HIV while on Grindr."
Carlos, Florida, USA
"Because of the pandemic, I've been separated from my girlfriend for two months. We contact each other regularly, but I miss having her next to me.
Yet I don't despair. I know I will see her when the lockdown is lifted. Plus, she's planning to come out to her parents after the lockdown. It's a moment that scares her, but it's a moment she really needs. And I'm proud of her because she's taking the courage to be herself with her family.
I also plan to invite her to see my parents after the lockdown. My parents know I'm a lesbian and they accept me the way I am. No one can imagine how reassuring it is for a child to have their parents by their side when they realize they are gay. I'm happy, I'm free to be myself, and I know that one day my girlfriend will be too.
I want to send a message of hope and positivity to the young LGBT people who read my message, and who, perhaps, have just discovered themselves. Know that being yourself is the most beautiful thing that life can offer you. It is hard to love in this world for people like us. But, I assure you, it's worth it! And even if you're scared, even if you're lonely, I promise you, someday you'll be happy."
"I’m bisexual and polyamorous but don’t live with any of my partners and I really miss being near them. I also miss hanging out with the queer family of color I’ve accumulated in New York."
Lee, Manhattan, NYC, USA
"My wife and I live in a big condo, we don't know our neighbors at all, we barely say hello. Not long ago we got to know our neighbors better: an old woman and her daughter, both have various health and mobility problems.
A few days ago we decided to order some products from local producers: eggs, vegetables, cheese. I phoned the neighbors (even if we are very close, I preferred to be cautious because of their precarious situation) proposing to do the shopping for them, too! They were so happy!
I believe that happiness came not so much from the shopping itself, but from the fact that we had a kind thought.
Laura, Verona, Italy
"My husband is a nurse and therefore exposed, but there are no tests available for asymptomatic caregivers in his hospital. So, since we don't know if he can infect me we decided to live on two separate floors of our family home. We sleep in two different rooms. No more spooning. We meet in the garden, keeping our distance. We’ve created a sort of airlock between the kitchen, which is his domain, and the dining room, which is mine. He prepares the meal, puts my plate on a tray, I take it. It reminds me of the serving hatch in prison cells.
We watch TV, which is installed in the dining room. He sits on an armchair in the kitchen and I sit in the dining room on our sofa, where we’d normally sit together. When he is not on morning duty, we have breakfast "together." That is to say, he has it at the kitchen table and I have it at the dining room table, but we’re seated in a way, so we can see each other. I look at him through the door frame and I feel like I'm watching him on TV or a computer screen. Our very homely and privileged existence thus seems unreal.
Bernard, Carnoules, France
"My life hasn't changed. 20 years of living with HIV, and former battles with substance misuse, mean that I have been self-isolating for years, whilst I wait on health service waiting lists, for mental health treatment. If anything, I feel more normal right now, with the rest of the world living similarly, the pressure is off me; no need to fight my way back up.
"My husband William of 21 years, we were officially married for 8 of those years. He was very concerned about this virus and catching it.
One day he wasn't feeling well and called his doctor who told him he needed to get tested for COVID-19. William went to the local Urgent Care got tested and waited, after 4 days they still didn't have the results, after 8 days still no results.
Tuesday, April 7th started like any other day but a little after 1 pm William had a heart attack and died. It took the medical examiner a day and a half to get the results and it turned out William had the virus. COVID-10, his diabetes, high blood pressure, and stress turned out to be a deadly combination.
Now I'm alone and self-isolating, between family on both sides and friends I don't know how I would get through this."
David, New York City, USA
"COVID-19 affected my partner and I in our plans for this year. We were planning to take all the necessary steps for his sex change, since all his life he has felt uncomfortable with it.
Last year he finally accepted himself completely as a man and after several efforts and therapy he was encouraged to do what he's been wanting to do all his life.
With this virus our plans were postponed and I feel that his fears are attacking him. It is a difficult path but I think we are handling it well and with much love and acceptance.
Lizzy, Aguascalientes, Mexico
"I was finishing my last semester of college, about to graduate, when I heard travel restrictions were getting heavier, and I lost my job.
With no income, I would graduate and suddenly be homeless, because I grew up in Australia.
I had planned to live with my friend and my cat in an apartment in Inwood, NY, but I was begged to get on a flight back to Australia by my parents.
I had to panic book a few flights and got kicked off my original booking. After over two days of messy travel, I had to be isolated in my childhood bedroom for two weeks, and I've just come out of quarantine.
It is much safer here, as the virus is much more controlled. But I'm trans and started hormones in the US, saw my therapist in the US, had my regular doctor in the US. In Australia, I'm running low on testosterone and needles. I'm unable to restock yet, because I need to be assessed by a gender therapist here, see a general psychologist, and I need to see a psychiatrist to get my general medication.
I left the US not properly packing, so I'm missing schoolbooks and proper clothes for winter. I'm struggling to finish my classes and final project. I don't even know what's going to happen for graduation, because I can't fly back. I might have to re-settle in Australia for a long while, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I tried so hard to settle in the US.
I'm trying to find a job, but no one is hiring here. I'm extremely lucky to have family and friends here, but there's so much I left behind, including my poor cat."
Rian, New York City, USA
"Hello, my name is Karla Rocío Morales. My story about the COVID-19 pandemic is as follows.
I'm a trans girl and I have realized that the government constantly leaves us behind because of who we are. I see that many people are given help, but we are pushed aside.
It's sad to feel powerless, because I was used to work. I'm a saleswoman and I would go out and sell from door to door where I live but it has affected me a lot, because I can't go out and sell anymore and I feel very powerless because I can't earn my daily income.
I have knocked on several doors asking for help, without any result. I also feel very sad to be away from my family. And the powerlessness is overwhelming, knowing that we have no one to count on and we can't work, and that the government itself won't give us the rights we deserve as trans girls."
Karla Rocío Morales, El Salvador
"Well, I was scared when all of this began. I tried to stay home and strengthen myself with fruit juices and such. But, unfortunately, I ended up getting the virus. I come from a family where I didn't get much affection and couldn't talk freely. Speaking about sexuality, for them, is only for vulgar people, so I never had the opening. I keep thinking about LGBT+ people who don't have a place to stay. If they end up getting the virus, what will happen to them?"
Natan Lopes, Recife, Brazil
"On March 27, Mark and I became aware the loss of our sense of smell. He is 70 and I am 64 and, we learned, anosmia is commonly associated with allergies and aging. While we were looking up on this symptom, it appeared in medical reports on the new coronavirus from South Korea and Germany.
Four days after Easter, I became aware I was having a dental issue. I called my dentist and a recording informed me the office was closed until May 4 and invited callers to leave a message but the voice mailbox was full. I contacted my MD who prescribed an antibiotic and, I told him of the anosmia, decided to have me tested since I've been HIV+ since 1987. Our town is also listed among the hot zones for the virus in Massachusetts, now the third state in number of COVID-19 cases in the country. Mark contacted his MD and we were both tested on April 18. The following day, he learned was negative and another call let me know I was positive.
Mark's MD explained that, most probably, he tested negative since his symptoms were a few weeks old so by now he stopped "shedding" the virus and reverted to negative, his sense of smell had returned progressively about a week before the test but mine is still absent.
I am controlling the dental problem with hot salted water rinses. Compared to many who got sick and with so many dying, we shouldn't be complaining. Because of our age, we are at risk, and being a long time survivor adds to the risks. Luckily, we have incomes, housing, and food security. I haven't been in a public place since March 27.
We have a garden and I took a few walks in the woods with a mask and gloves. Mark is going more often to do landscape photography, his new hobby. Thanks for reading our story! Wishing you all well.
Fabien, Lynn, Massachusetts, USA
"I'm a suburban doctor, at very low risk at the moment, even though I get more homemade masks from my mother [...] than I do from the Local Health Department. Oh well, at least I get to work in record time, while I usually spend more than two hours of my life lost in traffic."
Manlio, Naples, Italy
"I met my now-fiancée in college a decade ago, and my religious parents responded to their discovery of our relationship by kicking me out. We now live together in a place where we feel safe, even despite the overall attitudes elsewhere in our country.
Because my parents initially withheld my possessions from me at their home, I reconciled with them under false pretenses, just so I could sneak my belongings out little by little with each painful visit. I finished rescuing the last of my belongings - and made my final visit to my parents - just before the pandemic hit.
Now that I have an extremely justified excuse to not visit them anymore, I am at long last getting much-needed distance from the toxic and unloving environment I was raised in. I now have space and quiet to heal that I’ve always needed - yet all my love goes out to my siblings-at-heart who are still stuck with their families, still facing daily dysphoria and hatred from those who should be loving them and loving each other in these rough times.
I snuck out in the nick of time, but you all are still staring down your demons. You are all so brave and so, so beautiful. I am with you in spirit. <3
Merrow, Northampton, Massachusetts, USA
"The coronavirus has put me in a funk. It has made my favorite sexual practices off limits.
Tonio, DeKalb County, Georgia, USA
"My name is Michael, I'm an actor who graduated from drama school at the age of 41, a little later in life than most actors. My husband and I have been together for 31 years, marrying in 2006.
Determination, hard work and professionalism can pay off and last year I was cast in one of my favorite productions and plays 'An Inspector Calls'. I finally achieved what I didn't think I would. We started the UK tour in September 2019 and we were due to run until the end of May 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought that to a halt, when the theaters were closed across the UK and the world.
My hubby and I had a cough about 5 weeks ago, and I had one day of feeling very achy. The next day the aches had gone, and we both had a very intermittent dry cough. We self-isolated for fourteen days and luckily, our very mild symptoms eventually went after a week.
We are both in our mid 50's and are young in our outlook on life and the way we live it to an extent, but the pandemic has resulted in having small anxiety attacks since the lockdown. It has made me even more OCD with cleaning, in some ways. David works in a pharmacy lab in a large hospital in London, and went back to work, and since then I have worried daily about him having to travel on trains, the overground and underground, and I can imagine that there are many others who feel the same worry.
Being a 'creative', I am managing to keep occupied at home, but there is only so much you can do. I feel for those who are alone in this and have nobody to share their days and evenings with. Until the theaters are opened, and we don't know when that will be, I am again an 'out of work' actor, but when people losing their lives by the thousands, my situation is an insignificant price to pay.
I am looking at the possibility to see if I can do some work for the Samaritans or a helpline for the LGBT community who may need someone to talk to during this crisis. I and many are lucky, we share our home and live with our partners. Some are not so lucky. Be safe & keep well.
Michael, Kingston Upon Thames, UK
"Hi, everybody, it's Papyto. I live in Paris, I'm sharing with you my confinement which has been punctuated between periods of a little anxiety, energy and having to do sports and a lot of things all the time, then again an anxiety attack. It's finally an opportunity I have to work, to stay home, to take time for myself essentially and that's it. I didn't really feel any emotional loneliness. I didn't spend a lot of time on the apps either. On the other hand, it's true that today, I tell myself that if I have to relive this experience, I'd like to relive it with someone, ideally the man of my life, or even other people. Indeed, I didn’t have this plan before, but after all that, I tell myself that I would like to start my family, pass on values to a child with the man of my life because I tell myself that this is really the generation that can really change things for good. So, please... don't hesitate.
Papyto, Paris, France
"Hi people, my name is Isaac Mugisha from Uganda. I just wanted to shed a bit of light on what's been happening in my life for the last 35 days. I've had to use a bicycle to move around to protect people and protect myself. But still I've had to work the most I've ever worked in my activism days. I've had to support people who are in need. I've had to provide shelter to people who are in need. I've had to rescue people who are in need. I've had to provide relief to people who are in need. And this is a message I'd like to pass on to you as well. Please support someone today. Please look out for each other. We are in this together and the whole world is under attack at the moment. But we'll get over it. And I'd like to encourage you to look out for each other. Stay safe and stay well.
Isaac Mugisha, Uganda
"My life has changed remarkably little, except that I can no longer play bridge twice a week or get to the shops, because of isolation. However, there is a bonus, because my daughter, who used to visit every 3 or 4 weeks, now visits every Saturday & organizes food supply for me. Emails are a boon for keeping in touch with friends. I am able to do some gardening and go for walks, steering clear of other people.
Pedro, Amersham, UK
"My boyfriend lives 40 miles away, just messages... And messages have always been a source of arguments. Will we survive?
What's missing in this situation is knowing that you can get out of the house. Trivial? Maybe, for us, freedom (or something similar) equalled normality, which then often became triviality.
I miss his skin. His gaze.
Stefano, Buccinasco, Italy
"I moved out just before the lockdown to be closer to my relatives who need to be supported and my darling stayed in Toulouse for work. We thought we could see each other every fortnight and... pfff it's been 2 months since we last touched, kissed and cuddled. Fortunately, technology makes up for it a little bit. Seeing each other is already something and she can see our kitties, too! Now we hope that our areas will be in the green zone soon!"
Vero, Niort, France
"I am the founder of Mesa Diversa DIVERGENEROS C3, in the Manrique neighborhood of Medellín, where we defend the human rights of sexually diverse people.
During this quarantine, I've challenged myself to let the hair on my chin grow and not cut it off until all this is over. I was born a woman biologically, but I am a transgender person who is experiencing a natural transition during this confinement as I have a beard, but I am not injecting myself or taking testosterone to make this happen.
My partner is very supportive, and she is also a great woman and an activist for the LGBTI population and together we work to defend human rights.
I think that my body is currently experiencing and showing the intersexuality that lives in me but that I always hide. I have always shaved my chin and the mustache that comes out. Now I feel and look weird in the mirror and the decision I have to make is whether I want to make intersex visible to the outside world or just at home. We will see what happens!
Agueda Maide Gallego Ospina, Medellín, Colombia
"Our confinement is rather comfortable since we live in a house surrounded by a garden with trees, where we can have an apéritif as a couple. What we miss is the direct contact with our friends with whom we would like to have a barbecue and I think this is the first thing we will do on the day the lockdown is lifted. We went to pick some lilies despite the ban on going into the woods because we thought it was ridiculous. It must be said that in a village of 270 inhabitants, there are no controls. We can do our shopping in Chablis from time to time and that gives us an opportunity to go out. I am 67 years old, my partner is 66 and our needs for going out to clubs or the cinema are now limited, so we are not unhappy and often think of all the people who are not so lucky. Also, we wish everyone to hang in there and wait for better days that will come for sure. Good luck to all of you!"
Eric Bailly, Courgis, France
"When I was 15, I saw how all my friends had boyfriends and were excited about having one, but not me.
Things at home were not the best, at least with my father. He was a very homophobic person as well as his whole family. I never had any attraction to anyone and because of pressure from my friends I had a boyfriend, who, although he was very cute and attentive, I didn't feel comfortable with. When I was in high school, I had crushes on men, but suddenly I realized that it also happened to me with a female friend. I spent a lot of time denying it, thinking that it was just strong affection.
When I started college I realized that what I was experiencing was bisexuality, but I also realized that attraction for me only showed up after getting to know people, which made me look for a better definition once again. I ended up finding pansexuality and I truly felt it defined me fully. Now with the COVID-19 contingency, I tried to bring it up to my family, which is mostly men, my mom, and me.
They told me that it was stupid and that it was because we were locked up and I wasn't thinking straight. I explained it to them and even though my mother and younger brother accepted it, my other two brothers and my father turned away from me and treated me as one of the worst disgraces in the family.
But even as we are in the same space together, I have realized that if I do what they want I will not be comfortable with the only space that will be mine for the rest of my life, which is to be with myself. Meditation and acceptance of myself is the most important thing there is. Maybe in a month or so we can go out, but being with yourself that... you'll have that forever.
And if you never embrace and accept yourself, you'll never get out of your own quarantine and you'll never be free.
It doesn't matter what they can tell you because they won't live with you all your life. They'll live their life and you have to live yours.
Love is one of the few things we all have and it would be so sad if someone took it away from you just because they are blind and selfish. The pandemic will pass, but what you are will not.
"So I'm at the Bastille, in the center of Paris. I was supposed to sing in March, but my concerts were cancelled. I'm in lockdown, of course, like everyone else. I helped an African LGBT+ refugee. I brought him cans of food because he just couldn't eat anymore. He had nothing left. No more help, nothing. Everything fell apart.
I also took in, for two days, a young LGBT+ person. Otherwise, he would have been on the street. I also gave some money, it was rather symbolic, to associations helping trans people. And then, I spent long hours on the phone listening, listening, talking, chatting with gay and bisexual people who are in a period of absolute darkness. Because indeed, some were cut off from their families before the lockdown. Their families do not accept their sexual orientation.
I'm lucky because my family respects my bisexual orientation, but not all families do and some families are a nightmare. And unfortunately, the lockdown doesn't help bring them and their families together, which is a hard blow because, as a result, some of them have little or no money, and they don't have a family that can help them. That is a direct consequence. And then there's the other issue as well: people who had managed to build their own families in bars, saunas, cultural centers, libraries, restaurants, have lost that opportunity now. So there is an imposed loneliness.
I'm a loner in normal times, but there are people who are not, normally. And this is extremely violent for some people. That's what solidarity is all about. At the present time, this is not just an announcement, it is solidarity that was already there under normal circumstances. It might have been strengthened now. At present, I’m listening to people. But people also help and support me. This is a virtuous circle. But I have great fear. I am afraid a lot of suicides might happen in the LGBT+ community. I mean, suicide attempts. I'm very afraid of that, and folks already talk about it. In any case, congratulations on your initiative and may the word be passed on. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Jann Halexander, Paris, France
"Hello friends. As you can see my name is Freddy Hernández, also known as Wendy Valenzuela. I am currently a graduate of the University Dr. Andrés Bello from San Salvador, El Salvador.
As we all know, this pandemic has affected the world greatly. Generally all countries, but especially to us as the LGBT+ community, since we know that we are a very vulnerable population.
I don't work currently, because I haven't been assigned a job by the state, since I've just graduated from university. So what I am doing now as part of the LGBT+ community is supporting all the people who need some nursing treatment or other [health] problem they might have. For example, I'm healing wounds, giving shots, placing intravenous fluids, doing stitch removal, staple removal, healing of any kind. That's what I do these days.
I made a social media post where I stated that I was available in Zacatecoluca, which is the city where I live. I wanted to support the people who needed it, because the LGBT+ community is not the only vulnerable group, there are also other people who need support, especially when it comes to their health. So I posted a message saying I was available to provide general nursing services and support people who needed it, free of charge. I am working in this way today. I am working for free, proudly representing the LGBT+ community. We know that actions matter, not just words or social media posts.
I am 30 years old, I live in Zacatecoluca and my experience with the coronavirus is that we know that many people have been affected by this pandemic, as well as our general population. We are living in difficult times, personally I am living in very difficult times, because I don't have a decent job or even a job where the state could at least give me a small amount of money. This situation is very difficult, because many do not have family abroad. I personally don't have family abroad that can support me in any way.
There are people who help me, they will give me a small amount of money after I perform my nursing services, an incentive that I use to buy more medical equipment, not for me. This money is used to buy material to perform the healing services, the tape, the swabs or the band aids, all that.
We are a vulnerable group in our society. The LGBT+ community is going through very difficult times. It was expected that this would happen, but we'll see what God says, since again, I don't have a stable job or a decent job that could provide me with any economic help at this time. I'm just working for free, proud of my career and as an LGBT+ representative, since people know that we are LGBT+ people and in some cases they label us as very vulnerable people or as very kindhearted. That's what I'd like to hear from people in my society, that's what I want my society to understand, that we are human beings too, and we can have a job and perform it like any other person in the world. We are a very vulnerable group in a society that discriminates against us and always labels us for the bad experiences that they may have had with some other LGBT+ person.
Thank God I am supporting my community in this way, regardless of whether they are LGBT+ people or people from the groups that still need to learn to accept us as we are and as human beings.
It is a pleasure to greet you and I thank you for the opportunity.
Fredy Hernandez (Wendy Valenzuela), El Salvador
"I have been lucky enough not to be surrounded by bad people in this quarantine. What is affecting me is that I am still not respected with my pronouns in my house and I cannot be with the people who do respect me for who I am."
Yazmín, Tucumán, Argentina
"Living together as three gay men through this pandemic crisis has been a very positive, bonding experience on the whole. My husband Tony and I share our home in Streatham, South London with a very handsome and colorful Bulgarian called Pavel.
We are in our fifties and he is a fit twenty-seven year old. When he moved in about a year ago I doubted we’d have much in common. Of an evening he attires himself in body hugging black pajamas set off by a pair of fluffy pink slippers, hence our affectionate title for him, Pavel, the puff in the pink slippers. However, getting to know him better I have realized he is not just some pretty, shallow queen, but a person of considerable depths; he is resourceful, resilient and brings a lot of laughter to our home, where he feels really at home.
The other guys joke about my OCD as armed with detol ( yes Mr Trump it has other uses apart from injecting it into the body) bacteria wipes and daffodil yellow Marigolds I wage war on the virus, wiping down surfaces, disinfecting floors, not missing a single door knob, light switch, telephone receiver or laptop keyboard. In actual fact I know the boys really approve of my fastidious cleaning routine; nowadays people with cleaning OCD are like the fourth emergency service and should be greatly appreciated rather than treated as objects of scorn.
Really there isn’t much to say that is very dramatic about our gay lives during lockdown. We count ourselves fortunate to be able to be just normal people during these abnormal times. We help out where we can, shopping for elderly neighbors, pop to the food banks now and then to donate and have also been assembling face shields for the NHS at home. We’ve got quite an assembly line going: Tony applies the sticky tape to the Perspex, I place the plastic rod on the sticky tape and Pavel threads the elastic string through the holes. We’re a great team!
The beautiful sunny weather has been a great bonus during lockdown. The high garden fence is festooned with roses in full bloom, their thorny stems weighed down by heavy pink and red blobs. How ironic that it is like this for seven weeks of lockdown. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the day we unlock the skies turn grey and overcast and those dirty dishwater London days return with a vengeance. Meanwhile we’re enjoying the cleanest air we’ve ever breathed in this city and the more frequent visits to the garden from birds, bumble bees and butterflies. And we look up at a cloudless blue sky and hope for a brighter future for us all.
David, London, UK
"My story is one about starting a relationship during social isolation. Last November I met a person who has been teaching me the best I can give in a relationship by forgetting the mistakes and my past insecurities. I didn't think I could ever meet someone like that.
The trips to the cinema, the conversations in restaurants, and, little by little, the exciting intimacy of the beginning of a relationship were abruptly cut off on March 13 when we started social isolation that was initially voluntary and became mandatory after a few days.
At first the initial optimism that this would go on only for a couple of weeks led to several moments of frustration as the days passed and the situation did not change. The days have been going by between "good and bad" where we have continued creating our own ways to stay together and in touch, handling the frustration and the feeling of missing each other as best we can.
If the quarantine continues in our city, the amount of time we spent together in "real" life will equal the time we've spent together in the "virtual world" at a distance.
However, in some ways I think this is a real challenge that will allow us to continue building a relationship. The crisis allows us to have the time to focus on ourselves in order to build a stronger relationship later – I guess we'll see!
R2ro, Quito, Ecuador
"When my country took action against the pandemic I had two options: to stay home with my family or to go and live with my boyfriend. I chose the latter.
Everything was a little dramatic at first with my family, and I would like to say that everything has been beautiful and easy but that's not true. Many things have changed in a very short time, some things do not seem to be pleasant.
I don't know if using reality as an excuse is OK, but I'm just 20 years old and he's 21. I want to say that there are many things to learn from each other and from living together. This has not been easy and being locked up in our own house is not paradise.
Fer, Dominican Republic
"I am a hospital nurse so that aspect of my life hasn’t changed. I go to work 3 or 4 night shifts a week. On my days off, I stay home. That is the only thing that changed. With this pandemic going on, I realized I don’t need to be going places on my nights off. I realized I can be content staying home. I realized it’s ok to embrace being an introvert."
Joe, The Bronx, NY, USA
"I am an LGBT+ activist, a private family law litigator, an advisor to a Congresswoman, an advisor to the State Human Rights Commission, and a high school history teacher.
How has COVID-19 affected my life?
People like me are used to a fast pace of life, a busy life, working from 7 am to 11 pm, taking action for society on a permanent and constant basis.
The confinement, the helplessness of not being able to help and the helplessness to see how my society destroys itself, as they share fake news and call to disobey the government recommendations. It makes me feel really bad.
To top it all off, two blocks from my house, a state-run COVID-19 hospital was established. So I hear ambulances at night (which means they are carrying sick people) and ambulances in the daytime. The daytime ambulances give me peace of mind because they mean someone is getting healthy.
I have had 3 episodes of anxiety attacks already.
The first was while asleep, I woke up and felt a tightness in my chest as if someone was sitting on me; the second one was in the supermarket when suddenly I started to see people around me with face-masks in their hands, not respecting social distancing rules, with shopping carts loaded. When they left I couldn't breathe and for fear of being filmed and uploaded to social media as a "COVID-19 suspect" I walked into a square and sat on a ladder to calm down while I sang Queen songs in my head to distract myself and relax. The last one I had a few weeks ago. I woke up drowning and crying in desperation. There are days when I don't sleep. I have tried everything from melatonin to various breathing treatments and still can't sleep.
To top it all off, I haven't seen my partner for over a month, because she doesn't want to take any chances since her parents are elderly, and she is also my neighbor and as I said, we live near the COVID-19 hospital.
One day I couldn't take it anymore, and I talked to my colleague Tiago. I told him I can't handle this impotence, I can't sit around and do nothing. During other relief situations like floods or others, we organized community kitchens, or supported people by cleaning their houses or getting them medicine. And in this situation, you can't help, or it's very difficult.
So I picked up the phone and between him, our colleague Omar and me, we started calling friends, deputies, bosses, colleagues etc. and we got support to buy groceries, and people started donating groceries to us and other activists joined in. To date, we have helped more than 800 people in my State. It was even reported in the national press.
How has this changed my life? I have understood how fragile we are as humans. That we are linked, that in this ocean the ideal is all be in the same boat. That if we do not learn that we are all one then we will be none. That the will opens paths, helps people, and inspires others and that little by little we can get out of this, even though we are a hotspot of the pandemic in Mexico.
How did my life change? I learned that it's in the worst moments when one must rise up and that if we all hold hands we can rise up and help our society.
Almendra Negrete, Culiacán, Mexico
"My name is Nathan, I am 18 years old, and I am going to tell you my story. I am confined in Montpellier at my parents' home with my two older brothers and my mother. I'm not alone, but I feel very lonely, spending the whole day on my bed or in my room, my nose buried in my computer screen to finish my school year and pass my exams for higher education.
A few days before France was locked down my relationship ended – the first time I was heartbroken over a boy. I barely had time to see some friends after it happened before I had to go home and lock myself away.
This breakup and the beginning of the lockdown forced me to stay alone with myself. There are obviously not only negative sides to this, but a lot of positive sides too. I’ve been taking care of myself, I’ve accepted my body, I’ve begun, little by little, to look at myself in the mirror and truly love myself. I celebrated my 18th birthday on March 31. This birthday, my breakup and this lockdown feel like being reborn – as if I was born on March 31, 2020, as if I was turning a page and starting my life as a young adult.
This situation inspires me a lot, I keep writing my lyrics, singing them and composing my music, drawing, laughing, thinking, loving my loved ones, and imagining what our life will be like after the liberation.
Yes, I say liberation because it will truly be a liberation for all of us. We will celebrate 2020 as we should. It is inconceivable for us, citizens of the world, to deprive ourselves of our freedoms, such as moving around, going out, having fun all night long, getting drunk in bars, seeing friends, kissing, touching, smelling, tasting, eventually living...
This ordeal that we are going through is, in my opinion, a message that the planet is sending us, a kind of alert to tell us that there are surely too many of us. We take up too much space, we pollute too much, and we produce too much.
In the next few months we will have to live with this, even though it is frustrating not to be able to imagine our future and our lives afterwards. The virus will probably be part of us, we will surely all end up catching it, and we will have to be strong to protect ourselves and behave sensibly without giving crazy.
It's May 2, 2020 and here's where I am and what I think about all what is still unclear to me. We can only make assumptions about what will happen. To be honest I am scared about what will happen next, I am scared for myself and others.
What's sure is that I can't wait to start my adult life and I crave meeting people. Thank you for taking a little time to read my story, it's heartwarming to be able to express my feelings about this situation. Good luck to you, reader.
Nathan, Montpellier, France
"I'm transgender and my wife is a lesbian. We live in an improvised way, on the terrace of my mom's house. I study administration, and work in financial education. My wife prepares to take university entrance exams and works as a tattoo and piercing artist.
Because of my financial knowledge, we have (thank God) a financial reserve for emergencies, both in our personal lives and in her business. So I've put together a contingency plan to make sure the business still makes some profit while I work remotely, giving online classes and keeping my income.
So, financially we're ok, but emotionally we're shaken. Our relations with our families have long been troubled by dysfunctionality, prejudice and distress.
And on top of all that, my hormones are running out – drugstores have been out of it for more than 2 years. And I'll have to risk my life leaving the house to buy it secretly, praying that it's available and thanking God I have the money for it.
We have a lot of problems that hetero normative couples don't even dream about, but we consider ourselves blessed and privileged compared to so many others in the LGBTQ+ community.
Even with everything that's going on, I consider it great to have found a partner that's so dedicated and present, to have a solid, supporting relationship with so much friendship.
We're already survivors. We know what it's like to fight to exist. Even if it's not comfortable and it leaves a lot of scars, we're not living through a situation that's completely unknown to us. I've developed resistance to exhaustion and constant exertion. I can only hope we make it out of this alive.
Danillo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"I'm Chris, a trans boy that hasn’t come out to his family yet. Going to school was my ticket to freedom, the real me could come out. I was able to smile and stop pretending, outside the safety of my mind I was still being physically attacked [but] I was me, so it didn't matter.
After they announced the quarantine, my life turned back to keeping up appearances, having to listen about how I should look, behave, and be, falling back into the loneliness that I was in before I went to school. A person helped me to free myself, when I found her I found myself, and now I am far away from them.
I just want the quarantine to end and to feel that freedom again. Also, for school, every week they gave me a small amount of money for lunch. I was saving it for a chest binder since bandages are not healthy. I don't think they'll give me that money now. I believe I'll have to wait for the binder longer than expected.
Chris, Mexico City, Mexico
"I was all set to retire at the end of March 2020 from the NHS (National Health Service in England). The plan was to move to Spain at the end of April 2020 but as you know all plans have been blown out of the water and as yet that has not happened. I had only been away from the hospital for 2 days when I got a call asking me to return to the NHS and help them out with what was happening with COVID-19 and would be there for the next few months.
I am not sure when or even if I will be moving to Spain as now have to see what happens next with Brexit. I am hoping they see sense and extend beyond the end of the year so me and lots of people who planned to retire to a sunnier climate can go ahead. Life during this time has been so surreal at times and some days it has been lonely.
I have lost colleagues in the NHS who will be sadly missed but because they have gone they will never be forgotten. I hope when we come out the other side that people treat each other with love, kindness and respect.
Christopher, London, UK
"I am a person who does not identify with my assigned gender, and I am constantly searching for the gender expression that best represents me. I share a house with two other friends who also identify as non-binary.
In our daily life we prepare food and take care of our plants. We have weekly meetings scheduled to talk about how we have been feeling and what we could change for the week.
Sometimes it's more complicated than it sounds because we don't have jobs, the cafeteria where we used to work is closed and the city seems like a ghost town.
There are restaurants that use the hashtag "#NoOneGoesUnder" (in Spanish #AquiNadieTruena) and people at traffic lights with placards saying they lost their jobs while selling water or whatever they can sell on the street. We try to keep busy, we've tattooed each other, we play board games, and we have seen huge amounts of TV shows.
What I miss most about the time before the quarantine was being able to decide not to go out. I didn’t go out much because there are few places (maybe none) that are trans-inclusive, so socializing was already a problem before this quarantine. I would really like to make the non-binary struggle and the use of neutral language visible, my brother (hetero cis) told me that he would never in his life use inclusive language other than, with me because he doesn't think it is for everyone. Every day he resists he is part of this struggle.
GP, Zapopan, Mexico
"My name is Melusi Simelane and I'm the Executive Director of Eswatini Sexual & Gender Minorities. While we're fighting the global COVID-19 pandemic, we're fighting a battle of having something to eat. While we're under very strict measures to stop the spread of the virus, we are fighting for survival.
Poverty is something that has hit the LGBT+ community for so long because we're stigmatized and discriminated against. We're not offered the same privileges and opportunities for employment. And therefore the very minimum we can do is get a job e.g. in retail. These are the economies that had to suffer most in this global pandemic. And we welcome the measures by our government to curb the spread of the virus. However, we're suffering the most. The economy is not going to survive, that's what economists are saying. And we as the LGBT+ community are not going to survive, because we don't have food to eat. At the moment we're trying to raise funds, so we can have food parcels delivered to the LGBT+ community.
We're trying to do the best we can to make sure that there's support for those who have increased levels of anxiety. And to those who are facing harassment and emotional violence in their homes. There's increased domestic violence experienced by those who have to stay in their homes because there's nowhere they can go.
This global pandemic has taught us a lesson: We need to reignite and reinvent our approach to LGBT+ advocacy. We were speaking the other day about human rights where everyone was complaining that they had to give up some freedoms and human rights. But we as the LGBT+ community had to give up more than that.
For so long we have not enjoyed human rights, but now – we've had to give up survival. This COVID-19 pandemic has hit us so much. And we rely so much on any help we can get from the global community. But first and foremost we must center on equality for all. We are all suffering and trying to do what we can so the spread of the virus doesn't go too high.
But we must also remember that there are those of us who are most at risk, who are highly marginalized.
Melusi Simelane, Mbabane, eSwatini
"Hello! My name is Génesis Rafael, I belong to a civil association called Fundación Colectivo Hombres XX, pro LGBTI human rights.
How has my life changed during the quarantine?
Well I think the first thing I noticed is that I lost track of time. Suddenly I don't know what time it is or what day it is, because my life has practically become a virtual life on the computer. I'm constantly locked in my partner's apartment and I can't go out. The air quality here in Mexico City, especially in the north, is lousy and I guess that's why I have respiratory problems, a dry cough and a little phlegm, but it's not COVID, just a problem I have with some allergies that gets a little worse if I go out.
[Shows desk in video] This is where I practically live at. This is my mess of notes that I make, my poor printer that is dying, well also the computer; my bookcases that urgently need a cleaning, I think that is one of the tasks that I have left aside because I spend my time reading a book, then another one and so on.
[Shows dining table covered with books] And here are more books that I have to read that have to do with human rights, that have to do with the LGBTI community. Mostly everything that has to do with the legal field, whether it be employment, whether it be health, whether it be international mechanisms like ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean).
I am currently working to create and contribute ideas to be able to address or diminish the impact of COVID-19 on a global level.
I'm also working in the Red y Observatorio American de Hombres Trans (The Americas Network and Observatory of Trans Men) and people who differ from their assigned female gender at birth.
I think that would be all. I do think that confinement is getting to me, because even though I am a person who hardly ever goes out, I still need to help the people I work with directly, who are homeless or imprisoned, or who are in legal trouble, such as attempted murder, forced disappearance, or situations like that. And it's something I have been struggling with, because I can't travel to other states to deal with these issues. I think that's the part that hurts me the most in this pandemic and quarantine, not being able to go out and do my job like I used to.
And I think the good thing about the pandemic is that I've been taking more care of my clothes, in fact it's been too hot here and I almost spend all my time in boxers and without a shirt, though I'm wearing one now because it would be too much... I do not like people to see me naked, so I decided to put this shirt on.
Greetings to everyone and be safe, take care and stay at home.
Génesis Rafael, Mexico City, Mexico
"I'm lucky, in that coronavirus hasn't really changed my life too much. I'm disabled, so I was at home all the time anyway, and all of my friends are long distance as it is. I talk to them on Discord every day. My girlfriend lives nearly 3k miles from me, in Canada, and we've been long distance for ten years, so that hasn't been a problem either. But it easily could've been if coronavirus had hit earlier. She got a hefty inheritance last year, and after buying some things she'd really needed for a long time (she and her mom are both disabled as well, and living on welfare), she came to visit me finally, and even funded a three-day trip for the two of us to Baltimore (it'd been years since I'd been to the national aquarium there).
If coronavirus had hit last fall, her visit would've been postponed indefinitely, at which point the money would probably have been used up on other essentials. It was an amazing opportunity for both of us, and it's scary to think it might have never happened.
I can't imagine what other people are doing right now, trying to keep relationships going through social distancing and paranoia and misinformation.
I feel bad for all the people who usually hit up pride events in June, because those events probably won't happen.
I worry about all the queer kids stuck at home with family that doesn't understand or appreciate them.
Kate, Wawarsing, NY, USA
"I'm an activist in Belém do Pará and my life has completely changed because of the pandemic. Here we have one of the highest rates of mortality, and we've recently entered lockdown. I'm confined at home.
I've been getting messages from LGBTI+ people who are vulnerable due to COVID-19. These are people who are unemployed and can't pay for their life necessities. Many of them live alone because they were kicked out of their homes by family members who didn't accept that they are LGBTI+. That's why we decided to run a campaign to collect food donations. We've managed to help more than 100 people so far.
We've lost so many friends to COVID-19 already. And others were turned invisible. It seems hate crimes against LGBTI+ people have become meaningless and don't even get reported. We need to stay strong. All government measures taken to ease the impact of the pandemic are not reaching our LGBTI+ community. So it’s up to us to roll up our sleeves and fight for our own people.
Beto, Belém, Brazil
"Hi, I'm Clara. I'm transgender. I live in Salvador, Bahia. Living with all these restrictions isn't easy. I'm currently unemployed. And looking for a new job puts me in an unfavorable position. In my state, especially in this city, looking for recruitment as a trans person is in itself almost impossible. Now, with such high levels of unemployment and so many activities stopping due to the pandemic, we trans folks come last if we want any job. Discrimination is huge on all levels: at home with the family, in society, at work. In short: it's not easy. Not at all!"
Clara, Salvador, Brazil
"Hello! This audio recording is dedicated to all those members of the LGBT+ community who do not feel good about themselves, who don't fit the stereotypes of beauty and might feel bad or feel like they are not enough.
The aim of this story is not to draw attention or atone for everything that happened in the past, but simply for the benefit of all the people who now have the time to be with themselves, so that they can grow.
As a child, I was very obese, between 8 and 12 years old, I was quite, quite obese. I never had a problem with it, because of course I was a child. I was not aware of myself. But everybody noticed it, especially my parents.
My parents. Among the many things that I can attribute to them are my eating disorders that I had between age 14 and 16, with many episodes up until a few months ago. Instead of helping me, they stigmatized me and insulted me. It was a very hard time when I simply didn't lose weight no matter how hard I tried, and they were just there to judge me.
Even though at the age of 12 I became quite thin and acquired a physique almost identical to the one I have now, I just couldn't accept myself, I still felt really bad about myself, and it wasn't until recently that I managed to really find myself and love myself, and understand that if I was going to lose weight, if I was going to be okay, it was going to be for and by me. Not for others or to fit into some standard.
Now this quarantine has helped me a lot. I've been very much in touch with myself, I've started to exercise more, to have a much more balanced diet, but above all to love myself, to accept myself as I am. When I have to change something I change it but always to improve.
And it is something that I would like many of you to achieve. I know it is difficult, it is not an easy path, but I swear you can achieve it.
Ivy Villagrán, Mexico City, Mexico
"I haven't left home for more than a month for anything other than grocery shopping, the pharmacy or the bank. I am worried the company I work for might let go of the staff.
Officially, we are working remotely, but the problem is that our work schedule is not being respected. They send messages at any time and make us work on holidays or weekends until very late.
I'm a versatile gay, they say I'm handsome, but I've always been lonely, I've never been sociable. My only option for sex is to join groups that are only looking for sex, or go to the videos or Grindr. The times I've tried to be part of some social group, it hasn't worked out, and so I assumed I wasn't good at socializing.
So my life these last few years has just been about keeping up with my work schedule, going home, taking care of my mother and sometimes keep working at home.
Four years ago we lost my younger brother to HIV and since then my poor mother has been very affected and has become dependent on us, especially on me. So I have taken over her care which does not bother me, but she has become very hypochondriacal and depressed.
Since the beginning of the quarantine, my daily routine is to get up, disinfect the house, take care of my mother, sit at the computer to attend to the day's work, go shopping when it's needed, have lunch, continue with the work, send my daily work report, watch something on Netflix and go to sleep.
In addition, there are the economic concerns, which is why I have extended my bank credit as much as possible since my income has been cut by half. No sexual activity, I just download porn on my cell phone and sometimes I make video calls in the bathroom to masturbate to whomever I meet online.
Before all that I was already going through episodes of anxiety and depression, which have now intensified. To sleep I have to take pills, and I am always worried about what will happen next. I am also considered a high-risk person because I have high blood pressure and shopping or going to the bank is always a concern because I could bring the virus home and infect my mom who is an elder. Luckily, she has already been tested and has come back negative.
Before the quarantine, during my episodes of depression and anxiety I was already thinking about suicide because of the economic issue, but I had to overcome it because of my mother. Now the fear of how things might change in the future when the pandemic passes has me worried.
Coco, Lima, Perú
"As a queer and disabled New Yorker, the pandemic has been challenging. I am mostly bed bound and rely on online grocery services - now everyone relies on them and it's hard to get time slots.
I have a very limited diet (for medical reasons - it's not some trendy voluntary diet lol), so at times it has been a challenge to get enough food that I can eat. It's also been tricky because I rely on my PCAs (or personal care attendants) to help stay independent in my home. The state does not provide them with proper PPE (which all essential workers deserve), and so one of them (who is also disabled and queer is also immunocompromised and had to stop coming to work - losing their paycheck because there is no paid sick days.
My other PCA - who is also disabled and queer was coming to work but then got sick.
Meanwhile, the Governor (who some people are just going ga ga for - because Cuomo is more with it and intelligent than Trump - but so are most things. I get that this is comforting but it's also setting the bar terribly low) has been pushing so hard for cuts in funding to hospitals and healthcare programs, like the CDPA which now only empowers me as a disabled and queer person to hire my own people, but keeps queer folks like me out of nursing homes, where it is impossible to self-isolate, which is why there are so many cases in places like that.
I am making the best of things as much as one can, because one has to, but it's been very hard to deal with the consequences the pandemic and then have to fight attacks against your healthcare and freedom, while there is rampant disability erasure when people talk about the virus, often only talking about the elderly but leaving out people who are chronically ill and/or disabled and vulnerable to the virus.
Michele, New York City, USA
"My boyfriend and I have been a couple for 10 years. For work reasons he has been living in Mexico for a year and a half. We spent New Year's together, and in March I was planning to visit him for a few weeks. But now, here we are. Without being able to see each other, both of us going through this crisis, and without knowing when we will be able to see each other again.
Javier, Río Cuarto, Argentina
"Reading queer fiction and poetry with a friend over Skype once a week - our favorite is 'Kissing the Witch' by Emma Donoghue."
Caroline, London, UK
"I thought 2020 would be the year of my coming out. I never thought it would be the year of the coronavirus. Two difficult things to face. Suddenly everything changes. You find yourself baffled. Tense. Unable to understand what's best to do, how best to act, what other people will think.
I see people wearing masks and I think I've worn a lot of masks to hide the fact that I've always liked boys and girls. Now I've run out of them. Now everything has come to light. It was February 14, 2020: Valentine's Day. It was the day that always jinxed me. There was some screaming, crying, recriminations, questions and accusations, I should have expected it. Everything changes, everything.
Life changes, just like with the virus. At first, it seems like a drama, then you slowly get used to it. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I'm here, even though that day I seriously thought about suicide (how can I live in a house where they treat me like that? What the hell did I do wrong?!). It took a whole week before we started talking again. I call it my personal quarantine because all I could do was barricade myself inside and try to deal with that evil. As I always have, as I always have.
Then the quarantine became real for everyone. The enemy is out there, keeping you from breathing. Like evil words, that tighten your throat and leave you without energy, without anything, without breath. But even those will go away. Like the virus, which sooner or later will pass.
Last Sunday, meanwhile, a miracle happened. 'If we all reasoned like you, the world would be a better place,' my grandmother told me. I kept quiet, but inside I cried. With joy this time. I haven't felt so close to her since the day I came out. Even from two meters away.
Nicole, Padova, Italy
"During the quarantine, fortunately, I haven’t lost my job. But unfortunately, I’ve lost a friend and my grandfather. I'm isolated at home with my husband and my three dogs. We haven't gone out for anything except grocery shopping. Isolation is the kind of experience that sets off all our emotional triggers, leaving us sensitive, but at the same time numb.
My grandfather passed away on a Saturday. I couldn't visit him at the hospital. I couldn't go to his funeral. I hadn’t processed completely what had happened until Monday, when I had to help my mom deal with funeral issues. She is isolated from everyone because she had contact with my grandfather.
I think we still see a lot of people out on the streets and getting together because the virus is invisible. It took me a while to believe that my grandfather was gone because I didn't get to participate in any part of saying goodbye to him. It wasn't real because I hadn't seen it.
I see a parallel between COVID-19 and AIDS. Many LGBTQIA+ people ignore it because it's invisible, and they don't protect themselves.
When I say we're numb, it's because of that. We're facing an invisible enemy, and we have the Brazilian culture as a big disadvantage. We're a people of contact. We like standing in line, we like big events, full streets, celebrating together. We're also a people who only believe what we see.
My husband and my family (and I include his family in this) have been fundamental in this time. They’ve saved me from sinking into depression. Imagining the lonely death of a friend or family member in these times is a huge trigger.
I sincerely hope that in a time like this – when the government goes in the opposite direction of wisdom – the LGBTQIA+ community can be an example of generosity and union, even if apart.
Rafael, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"Hello, my name is Rafael Silva and I'm 37 years old. I'm an actor, cultural producer and radio broadcaster. And a drag queen, too. I've been playing my main character, Thânya TULmuto, here in Recife for 15 years now.
Living through the COVID-19 pandemic without work is one of the biggest challenges of these last 15 years. There’s little help for people like us who work independently.
Surviving on the last resources we've earned at parties is all we've got now. There's also the financial assistance from the government, R$600, which came very late.
It's a big challenge. But in the silence we find answers too.
I've been trying to calm things down, to let time go by. And to keep my patience. And I’ve been praying for better days, because better days will come.
Thânya TULmuto, Recife, Brazil
"Because of this lockdown, everyone in our community- transgender persons, Mangalamukhis, Jogappas, Kothis, DDs, gay people and many others from the MSM community - as well as the Dalit community, the Adivasi community, and daily wage earners are all dealing with a lot of hardships right now. Many people from gender minority communities, for example, have had to leave their (biological) families behind and migrate to find accommodation elsewhere, in rented spaces. Since we can't seek alms or do sex work for income anymore, we're unable to pay our rent. We do not even have food rations to cook with. This situation is very problematic.
Our mental health has taken a hit. Many people from the Hijra and Jogappa communities are feeling down. People from our community are often very upset, wondering why they are in this situation. We already live with a lot of difficulties and face a lot of mental health issues. We find ourselves deeply impacted by the mental health issues on one hand, and financial pressures on the other.
These problems have been addressed, at least in part, by the food rations 49 people in the district received from Solidarity Foundation through our Community Based Organization, which lasted us for about 15 days. These included people from gender minority communities as well as poor people from across Yadgiri District. However, there are about 700 people from the LGBTIAQ+ community in our district, and our organization has only been able to reach about 49 people in total from different communities so far. Many are also struggling to pay rent.
People living with HIV have also been struggling with mental health issues. Some 35-40 people from the community are living with HIV. Some have been unable to procure medicines, with no transport available. Even those who manage to find somebody to give them a ride end up getting stopped outside towns and prevented from going in. The rest have medicine to last them for only about 2 months. We don't know what to do. We don’t know how to find a solution to this."
Maya, Yadgiri district, Karnataka, India
"As the pools are all closed, to keep fit and help all of my clients stay trim and strong, I’ve been doing free workouts every day on my roof in Soho on Instagram live... I save all the videos to my YouTube channel as well. It’s literally kept me sane during the lockdown and I feel like I’m still seeing people on a daily basis – it’s so nice!"
David, London, UK
"I can't hide the fact that my mental health is deteriorating every day, every hour more. For me, being locked in the house against my will is proving to be more difficult than I imagined: in every moment of silence and deadlock, my mind is constantly whispering all I should do and should be. All my doubts and fears reappear and freeze me. If there was no Internet or at least the telephone, I would never have a break from my head and the negative thoughts I keep hammering myself with.
Just before the quarantine, I had found a temporary release valve that made me happy: performing at LGBTQ+ nights. I felt at home in those moments, I felt like some of my quirks were being accepted, but this virus took that away too."
Altea, Coccaglio, Italy
"Most of us here are suffering because of the pandemic and lockdown. We used to go to work in the morning and earn Rs 200 - 500 a day, but now we're stuck in the slums we stay in, not allowed to go outside to work. We can only run our homes if we can go out to work and earn but for the last month or so this lockdown has been in force.
We have conveyed this message to the local, zonal, and tehsildar (administrative officials) offices, but we aren’t getting any help from the government. We are being told to stay at home; people who have the means to stay at home are at home and eating, but nobody is concerned about those who can’t afford to do that. Everything is sealed down and the police beat up anyone who ventures out."
"Besides dealing with the coronavirus, I'm also dealing with HIV. I got tested for the first time after starting my treatment and I'm extremely happy to already be undetectable. But it's hard to organize my life in a way that doesn't mess with the schedule for taking my meds. And to make sure my mom doesn't see me taking them. She has no idea I live with HIV.
Every time she decides to clean up the house, or when she comes close to where I hide my meds, my heart races and I try to make something up to distract her.
I'm trying to deal with boredom and loneliness. I really miss my friends – talking, laughing, playing music, drinking beer, just venting, really. I miss having sex and I miss cuddles too. But I'm respecting isolation fiercely. So, to fight boredom and the heaviness of it all, on weekends, I just drink some beer and listen to music all by myself.
I volunteered a little with the LGBTQI+ organization in my town. I'm in a phase of reassining my life. I'm always looking for new motivation and for actions that will make me more ready, strong, and happy. At times, I failed miserably at that and drank too much and sat in front of the computer crying for hours and hours. But at other times it worked really well and I made a lot of art and woke up early, chatting with the birds at 6 in the morning.
Among the bad things there are good ones. And even though I make a lot of mistakes, I put a lot of courage and effort into everything I do. Anyway... I'm healing. And healing has its ups and downs. That's it and thanks for listening!
Doc, Jacarezinho, Brazil
"The situation of our community over here is very dire because stringent restrictions have been implemented due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Bijapur.
I had gone to collect ART(HIV) medication to distribute to our community but the police didn’t let me. They refused to even stock ART(HIV) medication for community members to come and collect. There were two people whom I tried to supply ART medication to - I was unable to reach either of them because I don't own a government pass to travel in this lockdown, and it is very difficult to even talk to local officers here about the situation we're facing.
When our community approached officials for help with food rations or rent, we were told to reach out to the Municipal Corporation where a single ration kit costs Rs 780, far beyond the reach of community members who barely have Rs 120 on them because of the income shortage.
We have received help so far from Solidarity Foundation, KHPT (Karnataka Health Promotion Trust), and local funders but nothing from the government yet. We’ve reached out and written to MLAs, Tehsildars (administrative officials), and other government officials but not a single ration kit has been issued to the community by them. We'd prefer it if they just issued travel passes to us, so we can find funders on our own to support our community. There is no use waiting for the government to act because they don’t understand the livelihood issues faced by our community."
Shabbir, community leader, Bijapur district, Karnataka, India
"Our community depends solely on seeking donations for survival. Because of the current lockdown, we cannot go anywhere to make an income. We were always oppressed and faced hardships even with that income, but we were at least able to somehow manage our lives.
A few of our community members who had migrated for work are now being forced to return to their families to avoid being stranded because of the pandemic situation. Many of them haven't revealed their trans identities to their families and will be forced to go through the tough and painful experience of presenting their gender differently than they've always done. We face this, in addition to the forced isolation at home and mockery and discrimination in their neighborhoods.
We hear that the lockdown may be further extended - it's unpredictable. If this keeps going on we don't know how we'll survive, the community has a lot of people who are old, many even with health issues like diabetes and HIV. Not all transgender communities are even being reached out to with help during this crisis - many are simply just not getting enough support. We first got ration support from Solidarity Foundation and later on even from our District officials - 60 community members were given ration kits. We request continued support in the days to come, we don’t know who else to reach out to for help because everyone is facing the same situation."
Deepu, transgender community leader, Chamarajanagar district, Karnataka, India
"I look after the health of people who may not accept people like me. Just like that. I'm a doctor, I'm a transgender woman, and I'm very happy to help during the pandemic. I just hope that one day all the people who don't accept that transgender people exist will realize that, without them knowing it, we are providing them with welfare and health. You're welcome!"
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