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A Letter To My Queer Friends – reflections from a year in lockdown

Dear Queer Friends,

Lockdown changed my life. We all struggled with the stay at home orders, but being a closeted queer woman in a homophobic household meant my mental health spiralled. Spending so much time in a hostile environment meant there was no time to even understand my feelings, let alone try and deal with them. 

At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, I couldn’t anticipate the overwhelming sense of loneliness I would feel living at home. Maybe it was because of how temporary it all felt initially but lockdown didn’t really make me think about my identity. I spent days practicing crafts I hadn’t had time for in my busy schedule, I went on walks and started working out. My crisis really began in June when I started to realise the pandemic was here to stay. My support system of queer friends had all but vanished as everyone dispersed in different countries. Suddenly I was all alone with nobody to turn to. 

Pre-pandemic life allowed me to spend most of my days outside of my family home with people who knew about my sexuality. Naively, I took that for granted and I failed to realise how much being around other queer people affirmed my own identity. I have never been one for labels but I found myself trying to verbalise my sexuality with the hopes that one day I could turn around to my family and say “I’m a lesbian” or “I’m gay” because God knows they wouldn’t know what “queer” means. I found myself planning for the day I would come out and inevitably leave most of my family. But those were just thoughts of a day that may never come, in real life I was mentally preparing for the worst, being outed before I’m financially ready to live on my own. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of being around violent homophobia and painfully imagining the day the violence is directed at me.

The thing is, I’ve always known there would come a day when I would no longer be part of my family in the same way. Before the pandemic, I thought it would be whenever I was outed and so something I had no control over. Now I fantasize about the day I can live as my true self because pretending to be someone you’re not is so hard. The energy it takes to even entertain conversations about dating and marriage is not the same energy it took before the pandemic. It’s now so painfully obvious to me how much of the burden I shared with my friends, almost as a shared trauma we could give and take depending on each of our situations. The simple things like getting food and forgetting what your living situation is like are no longer so simple and I miss the seemingly small acts that kept me afloat. What most cis-straight people don’t understand about queer friendships is that in each friend and bond queer people (particularly closeted queers) make is so much more than just a friendship, it carries so much weight. 

As the world opens back up again, I’m making the most of being able to surround myself with my chosen family. Despite living in what can sometimes feel like hell, navigating the world would be so difficult without my queer friends. This is a thank you letter to all the queer folk who have helped me with or without knowing. Some of you have been there for me through so much, some of you have been internet friends for the longest time, and some of you I’ve only met once or twice. I appreciate you all. An extra shoutout to closeted queer people reading this, you are valid.

Love,

Your closeted queer babe x

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