In this blog, I am going to be talking about how the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has affected LGBTQ+ people’s emotional health both during the pandemic and after. Even though we are out of the pandemic restrictions such as the national lockdown and restrictions, the virus is still around and has and is still having a massively strong negative impact on many of us, especially those of the LGBTQ+ community, where I personally have been impacted massively during this time as someone who identifies as being gay. All these experiences and views within this blog are my own and are based on my own experience of being out as gay during the pandemic during the first and second lockdown in 2020 and 2021.
During the national lockdown, for a lot of us, the whole idea of working from home and learning from home was a completely new experience, especially for those of us who were still in foster care, as the change of being able to leave the placement to spend time with friends and peers within school for the day before going back home can sometimes feel like something of a great and happy time, especially for those of us who are still very young.
For those of us who are in the age range of working and being in higher education, such as university, working from home and learning from home was a hard experience as a lot of the time we needed specialist equipment and materials to do the work that we needed to do. For example, for myself, I needed access to photography equipment at university to complete my coursework, but due to the lockdown, everything was changed and I was not able to get access to any of the equipment that I needed, which put a massive strain on my emotional health due to the stress and worry of changing my project at the last minute, which I expect was the same for a lot of my peers and people around the country, and in fact, the world, who were in education.
However, the pandemic has affected many LGBTQ+ people’s emotional health, both inside and outside of the fostering system, as a lot of the things that they like doing and even what makes them feel like they can be themselves were taken away, such as, for instance, the yearly celebrations of Pride around the world.
For a lot of young people who identify as being LGBTQ+, the celebrations of Pride around the world can be, in most cases, the only time of the year that they can be themselves without fear or bullying, which in my own opinion, as being an openly gay young person who has been in the fostering system, can be the only time to come to terms and be accepted for being a member of the community.
Unfortunately, during the time of the pandemic, this was taken away from a lot of young people, as due to the governments around the world, we were placed into a national lockdown, which also ran over the times when pride is celebrated (May-September).
Due to this, a lot of people have been affected emotionally as being part of the community can be hard most of the time, but as pride is a time where we can all accept each other for who we are and be the person we want to be, the pandemic has made a lot of us hide who we are again before we came out to our loved ones.
In my own opinion, the reality of the national lockdown having an impact on LGBTQ+ people’s emotional health and mental health is widely accepted and accessed. However, the worst of it was that during the lockdown, many young people who identify as being LGBTQ+ were in isolation and not able to be the person that they wanted to be, and even have the activities and help that they would normally have. Many charities during the lockdown ask young people to “Hit Pause” on coming out during the lockdown. This was seen in an article on Pinknews with the headline “LGBT Charity tells Young People to “Hit Pause” on coming out while in lockdown with parents” (Young LGBT People Advised Not to Come Out to Parents During Pandemic, 2020).
This for me as both an openly gay young person and someone who is in the transitioning period of coming out of the fostering system, but has gone through the system, this knowledge and article upsets me as coming out should be the choice of the unique person and there choice alone, as for them to come out either if it’s to a foster carer, friend or family member, it is their choice to do so and for this to be asked not to be done and the choice to be taken away can come across rude and hurtful.
To read the article about an LGBT charity advising LGBT young people not to come out to parents during the pandemic, please visit : https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2020/04/05/albert-kennedy-trust-coming-out-hit-pause-coronavirus-lockdown-parents/
By Anonymous Care Experienced Blogger.