The Castro is Closed. Time to Ask Yourself the Tough Questions.
Define community. We all come from one. We tend to have different communities for different parts of our lives, and at different times. We can love it, disagree with it, want to change it, preserve it, hold it hard refusing to let go, and push it away when you need to break free.
For every LGBTQ+ individual, a combination of these feelings has been felt when thinking about our own community. It’s cradled us and spat us out. But what makes it special, for better or worse, is a promise of acceptance. A safe space to be true to your core and socialize with others who are in the pursuit of happiness too. It’s not perfect, but it sure improved what the mainstream had to offer.
For many, before moving to our community’s centers of influence, like New York or San Francisco, the only person with whom many LGBTQ+ people could be their true selves with was themselves. With the onset of COVID-19 and social distancing thereafter, we’ve seen this come full circle. The queer journey starts as a personal one, introspective and alone. And depending on the person, this path can be filled with curiosity and interest, or with utter fear. For many entering isolation for the first time in a while, they may be encountering these same feelings again.
Covid, with all its horrors, has also given us a chance to sit with ourselves for a while. Absent the physical community that’s been there for us to lean on in the good times and bad, isolation offers an opportunity to ask the tough questions that are easy to ignore when life is normal and on the move.
Do I like myself? What can I work on? Do I practice tolerance when others fall short? Do I fight for equity for others? What does community mean to me? Do I share my feelings with others without fear of judgement? After all this work, am I any closer to being my authentic self?
Face these and answer them. Be kind to yourself; you may not like what you see, but recognizing your shortcomings is the first step to overcoming them. We’re seeing the world do that now with racism. People are battling their discomfort with race head on and learning with purpose. Use these lessons for other parts of your life, and yourself.
There will be a time to return to life’s pleasures. Our nights out in Hell’s Kitchen and our parades in June will happen again. But in the meantime, dance by yourself, sing tuneless, and ask the tough questions. You may find you want to hang out with yourself more often than you thought possible, and come out of this better for it.