The world feels weird, and I like everyone, am struggling to make sense of it. A week ago, more people clambered about whether our now reality was a pandemic or a panic, and when this prints in a week, who knows what normal will be. Being queer is a bag unto itself, but adding in quarantines, speculation and fear about our medical limits, and the collapse of the service, airline and hospitality industries-three industries that employ a vast majority of us- and it becomes quite easy to see why I have spent a lot of this week in my kitchen, stress snacking like I am a teenager again.
We have plenty of food, and while not hoarding more than we need, are not going to run out of tissues or toilet paper. We have a house full of puzzles, board games, paint, video games, instruments and movies to occupy my expanded free time; and maybe I can finally beat some of the video games I received for Christmas. But all silver linings aside, the reality is our new normal feels anything but normal. Stability is a rarity within the trans world, and this crisis has paused much of the progress made for many of us. My name change and top surgery are held up in limbo, the former halted by the closure of the area courts, and the latter halted by the reality that our medical force is busy fighting something entirely more important. Important doesn’t do much to reduce the sting of another summer in a binder to trans masculine folks who were counting the days until their first post-op beach trip.
What has been uniquely queer-driven, is the void of social interaction being replaced by digital hangouts. The past two nights, my wife and I have tuned into the livestream of our favorite local DJ, who sensing the need of some normalcy, is putting on shows every Friday and Saturday night, for those longing to unwind with dance beats and strobe lights. Something about being told to raise your glass in the confines of your own kitchen has given us just enough interaction, without the usual overwhelming nature of being at the club on a Friday night. One of the trans advocacy groups I partner with has already hosted a check-in meeting, giving us a uniquely trans safe space to vent our fears and worries, and remember that we are all stronger together.
Before Corona was more than a beer, the Hopes Trans Group had set up a Discord server, because trans folk tend to be technically or gaming inclined, and many begin our transition by digitally venturing out as ourselves, without the real-world dangers of being clocked. Now, with all of us searching for ways to continue to reach our community; Discord servers, Zoom meetings, Trello boards are all finding new light. Go-to unwind scene was dancing your cares away at the club? Check out your favorite DJ’s social media, many of them are using platforms to still get their music to their fans. If you find yourself with a plethora of gaming time, find an LGBTQ+ gaming group, and tabletop gamers can join in too; the Dungeon Master doesn’t have to be in the same physical space as the Adventurers! Online book clubs, backyard gardening groups, there is a digital space for all activities and hobbies, and there is a queer friendly branch of each of these.
By nature, we human beings are meant to connect, and if there is something we queerly-aligned have long since learned, sometimes you cannot always interact in the public arena and remain safe. None of us knows how long, and how surreal our quarantines and lockdowns are going to be; and especially if your housing situation is one where you are not affirmed, or respected, we all need to reach out across our cyber pathways to take care of each other. We have survived beatings, riots, revolutions, AIDs, discrimination of all shapes, and we will survive this too. So, enjoy the bloom of springtime from the safety of your backyard, and remember, we might not be able to hug each other, but we can send all the positive emojis we can type-and for now, that will see us through.
- Asher Kennedy is a writer, activist, transman and cisnerd living an hour outside of Washington in the Eastern Panhandle of WV. An alumnus of Shepherd University where honed both his writing and musical skills, he is the current treasurer of Hagerstown Hopes, serving as a member of its Board of Directors. He is also the co-facilitator of both the Trans and Spouse groups. Through his work with Hagerstown Hopes, he works alongside Trans Healthcare MD to bridge the gap for medical knowledge and coverage for the trans and non-binary communities throughout Maryland. He has been featured on RoleReboot (rolereboot.org) and is an avid speaker for local college and community panels. He is on Twitter @ItsAsherK, and can be found re-watching the same six episodes of The Office in his spare time.