Quarantine & Election Season Exacerbate Queer Struggle, Elevate Hope

The rainbow flag represents the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and can symbolize personal identity or support. Photo from wikipedia.org.

My family isn’t very supportive of my identity, so being stuck at home together with everything going on has been very strenuous,” said Fable, a nonbinary lesbian living in suburban Maryland. “No one uses my preferred name or pronouns, and my sexuality is frequently a subject of arguments.”

Lamenting over their parents’ homophobia and transphobia, Fable also noted their parents’ support of President Donald Trump, along with the election cycle ramping up, causing increased duress for them.  They spoke about feeling marginalized as a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Between the upcoming election and the new conservative Supreme Court justice being nominated, I’m honestly terrified that what progress that has been made is all going to be taken away,” Fable said.  After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose liberal arguments included allowing same-sex marriage, Fable references fears about Amy Coney Barrett, whom Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, opposes. 

“The increase in violence, outward bigotry, and anger from the far-right makes me scared to be out and visibly queer,” Fable said, referring to neo-fascist groups such as the Proud Boys.  President Trump failed to outright condemn the homophobic, transphobic, and Nazi-sympathetic group during this election’s first presidential debate, as the Proud Boys celebrate his “Stand back and stand by” comment as a call-to-action while selling merchandise bearing the slogan. 

“Seeing more progressive figures getting attention and being elected does give me some hope, though,” said Fable.  “In general, seeing more out and proud queer people in the public eye, and my state and others allowing a neutral gender marker on IDs also gives me hope for a better future as a queer person.”

Fable shared that the COVID-19 pandemic has drained their savings and delayed their ability to move.  Being misgendered and confronted at home for being queer has impacted their mental health.

“Prior to the pandemic and more significantly the election cycle, I would have definitely considered my area to be entirely accepting of queer identities,” Fable said.  “My town is very open and artsy, and a lot of homes and stores have pride flags or stickers outside.  We even had our first pride event last June in my town!”

Fable noticed a contrast between their local and state environments. 

“Living south of the Mason-Dixon means a lot of confederate flags and the sort of ideologies they usually represent.  The place where the pride event was held is now surrounded by boats with Trump flags. It definitely makes me much more nervous to be out and visible, even in my own neighborhood,” Fable said.

A lesbian living in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area requested to be called M., since they are not yet out as nonbinary.

“Knowing there are people fighting for the community every day, especially people making things for kids—we didn’t have that, and that’s really special,” M. said, referencing the burgeoning acceptance of queer coming-of-age stories in media, giving Noelle Stevenson and Rebecca Sugar as recent examples.

“It’s always lonely being queer,” M. said.  “It’s desperately clinging to anyone you think might be like you, regardless of whether you actually have anything else in common or would make good friends—we need to reject the notion that we’re alone because it’s a myth.  It’s absurdly easy to feel isolated as a queer person even without the pandemic but we have each other, the people who have fought for us in the past, and the people who are fighting for us now. We just need to seek them out.”

M.’s friend Fable agreed.  “My friends outside of work are all queer,” Fable said. “I’ve noticed us all being much more supportive of each other because of all the outside stress.”

Published by: Mikaela Fitzpatrick

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