Continuing to cope during isolation

Are you going stir crazy as yet? After nine and a half weeks in isolation, it seems that my sleep and eating habits are changing and not for the better. My day is full trying to do business for this paper and also attempting to help out where I can in the community and do that from isolation. That means lots of calls and emails. I have intended to remain positive. After all, we are all going through this together, and I really do believe that we will survive this. I’ve literally turned off anything that could be negative.

And that’s the point. We all have anxiety, stress, anger and sadness during a time like this. It is not unusual, and you should not add to that by being ashamed of that emotion. Rather embrace it and embracing talking about it to yourself, friends or professionals. You’re not alone. We all have emotions bursting now — especially those of us in the LGBT community, who are among the most endangered. Imagine having HIV or AIDS and worrying that you can’t get your medication or receive the medical care you need. Imagine being transgender and being limited in the same ways. And what about our homeless LGBT youth. The Williams Institute at UCLA estimates that up to a third of homeless youth in America are LGBT.  And then there are those at home, isolated with relatives who may not know they’re LGBT and oops, they discover and are not supportive. Our needs as a community are overwhelming.

If you think all of that is already too much, what about our seniors that have been forced into senior housing. We’ve all heard stories of how they can be treated, but under these circumstances, the safety net of social services and other resources are at a minimum. 

What about those in our community who are not cisgender or are gender-nonconforming? If they had employment in a supportive environment, and that entity has gone out of business, once they finish unemployment, it may not be easy to find employment again. Add to any of these issues being a person of color, and the challenge is even greater. 

If you’re not included in what I’ve listed above, you most likely have much less to deal with and might begin to feel that while COVID-19 has put a halt to the ongoing of our lives, we’re just a little lucky. If you’re on that list, I hope you realize that there are people in the community that wish to be of support to you. All you need to do is reach out.

Like all of you, I’m going through periods of anger at the circumstances we all find ourselves in. For me, at my age, I can actually realize the difference between now and the 1980s. You see, at that time, the epidemic was AIDS, and it was considered a gay disease. And guess what? We were on our own for survival. Today, every single person is at risk, so like magic, every health expert, doctor and scientist is working at full-speed to find treatments and vaccines. We went from just a few hundred medical experts in the 1980s in just a few countries to today with hundreds of thousands in the medical profession looking to get us out of this mess in every country. So we’ll get there, simply because it affects “them.” Not just us. There is a sense of comfort for me as I watch them learn the lessons we’ve already learned decades before, and as health professionals state clearly that we should follow the lead of the LGBT community when they fought HIV/AIDS. That makes me take pride in our community, and that begins, at least for me, the start of ending those emotional periods. As we said during the battle against HIV/AIDS, we will get through this together.

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