With HIV a manageable disease today, I felt that coming out later in life had its pluses. I hid from the terror of AIDS and HIV for years. In fact, it was AIDS arriving on the scene that was one important factor that had me go back deeply into the closet after a few years straddling the fence. While COVID-19 is a different kind of disease than HIV and AIDS, today we all live in fear of the stranger.
There have been whispers about a coming pandemic for years, but I am stunned by the rapid pace our world has changed. We are ‘sheltering in place’, a misnomer of a phrase, as the COVID-19 virus spreads through our country. We are now in week two of our self-imposed isolation, venturing out only for food and walks. While I long to be busy again, for my partner and me, it has not been a hardship. We have food and enough savings to weather this storm. My partner is able to work from home while much of my daily plans outside our home, including regular visits to help support my 91-year-old mother in another state, have ceased. Mom is in her apartment alone, the refrigerator and freezer packed with food, and seems to be enjoying her quiet time after the recent passing of my father. But at 91 she is not able to cook for herself and is surviving on mostly premade meals or frozen soup.
I was moved this morning to read about a transgender college student on Vox.com. The student was living in a homeless shelter and using the campus gym to shower and the school library to study is now struggling as the homeless shelter has no private space for her to take online classes or study. The article, Campus, dorms closed for coronavirus, leaving some LGBTQ students with nowhere to go, portrays how a number of college students are affected by their schools being closed because the schools were so much more than education. The schools provided food, medical care, a safety net, behavioral therapy and more.
Day by day we see our world get smaller. Today our County Executive stated that we were getting very close to a ‘shelter in place order’, requiring us to stay in our homes, except for food and other limited functions. How this would be enforced and for how long is anybody’s guess. Given the rapid spread of this virus, I expect we are in for a very long period of our world being shut down.