What does this social distancing and self quarantining mean to queer persons? There aren’t much physical safe spaces available for queer persons. Our social life in public spaces are limited. But for most part our support systems and social circle are online. Some of us may have an online identity with no inhibitions and in real life we are pushed back into the closet. As a teenager I found friends and was introduced to the queer community online. And it took a while for me to access physical queer spaces and that too only after I moved to the city. There was none when I grew up in Pondicherry, and there aren’t any even today. When I thought of Virtul social meetup sessions the first question came to my mind was, how different is this from the chats we used to have on yahoo, second life, orkut groups, now Facebook, WhatsApp groups and other social media platforms? We still have many queer persons whose only safe space is the queer groups online. We create our own virtual world which vanishes the moment we go offline. There were days when I used to rush from my classes to login; it doesn’t matter if my friends were online or not. The fact that I am online in the group would make me feel safe. Today we are in crossroads. We are trying to claim public spaces and create our own small safe spaces physically. While these are mostly limited to urban spaces, the existence of these spaces also comforts folks that they aren’t alone, it doesn’t mater whether they go to these spaces or not.
This self-quarantining also forces a lot of queer persons to be stuck in abusive and dysphoric households. Some would escape for few hours during normal times, now they may not even have that option. Some folks who have stayed away from home now are forced to return — not everyone have the negotiating power to remain wherever they are. Some of us are going back to where we started. It’s more important for us now to be in support of each other; to divert our minds from the abusive spaces we are stuck in even if it is for few hours.