The Quarantined Queer Experience – Part 3

By Dhwani Tripathi

In the previous parts, two of our AIQA members talked about their experience in quarantine. One of them mentioned about cutting off all ties with their toxic and queerphobic family, while the other member is stuck with his Sanghi family members who constantly shame him for being expressive about his queerness.

These two individuals fall on the extreme ends of the Queer in Quarantine spectrum (or should I say Queerantine?). I believe I fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum; neither can I cut off ties with my homophobic family, nor can I come out to them. Not that I am anywhere near ready to do that, there have been a few instances though, where they have asked me ‘are you gay or something?’ out of the blue and all I did was awkwardly laugh it off or change the topic when I actually wanted to just say “Duh” – the Billie Eilish way.

image credit: Bhushan Rumde

I am aware that a family, so adamantly opposed to the idea of their daughter even dating guys will probably not appreciate it if they discovered that she actually likes girls. As a small-town girl, I have spent my entire life listening to my conservative family members chant “Log Kya Kahenge?” (What will people say?) and watched them live their lives strictly adhering to social norms.

While some of them are blatantly queerphobic, others aren’t even aware of the very existence of a certain LGBTQIA+ community. I believe it is much safer for me to be in the closet for the time-being. I can postpone the whole coming out episode for a time when the outside world is not infected by COVID-19 anymore, and hopefully less infected by the disease of Queerphobia than it is today.

Over the years, I have realised that coming out is a completely different and unique experience for each one of us. It is okay to take as much time as one needs before one is ready to come out. In fact, we don’t even need to come out because we don’t owe anyone explanation with regards to our sexuality or gender identity. Having super controlling parents who refuse to acknowledge our needs for some privacy and space can be very overwhelming, but don’t worry queers, I got your back!

Here are a few things that are helping me survive quarantine (and may help you as well):

Music: Whoever said ‘music heals’ must’ve been really wise, because it does. Music drowns the noises people around me are constantly making, quite literally. (*cough* utensils *cough*)

Books: Can we go out to buy/borrow new books? No. But do we have the privilege of accessing free books online with apps like AnyBooks? Yes (Is this article sponsored by AnyBooks? No. Do I just love this app for keeping me busy? Yes.)

Netflix: (Not mine of course, it’s my roommate’s account I’m leeching on) A special thank you to Netflix and other streaming platforms for providing us queers content during these trying (quaran)times.

My other family: My blood family might be homophobic, but I have another family that not only supports my homosexuality but is quite gay itself. My beautiful second family consists queer people I have met and befriended over the couple of years and it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t survive life in general without them.

Artists: Let’s be honest, if art and artists didn’t exist, we would be losing our minds right now.

Practising hobbies: I’ve always liked cooking and now is when I have enough time to practice this hobby and turn it into a skill.

Ignore and snore: They say, “When in doubt, take a nap” and I believe they are smart (it’s me, I’m ‘they’). Want to avoid your nosy, noisy family members? Take a nap. Friends inviting video calls, but you don’t want to. Take a nap. Want to do something but don’t feel like it? Take a nap. Napping is my solution to every problem these days. And it’s an effective one.

These times are tough, I know, but as they say ‘this too shall pass’ (I don’t know when, but it shall).