‘Social distancing’ is how LGBT people have always had to live

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04/06/2020

As news reports with dire predictions about Covid-19 began to multiply exponentially, I quickly realized that the inevitable physical distancing required and resulting social isolation was not as big a deal for me as I suspect it is for many other people. Investigating my own sense of calm, I wondered if I was missing something, some quality that allowed me to be untroubled with the idea of quarantining. Then I saw a Facebook post from a young gay Jamaican friend that provided an epiphany: for decades, Jamaica has been “preparing” LGBTQ+ citizens, like myself, for this pandemic of social distance and isolation. In my friend’s words, which I’m paraphrasing only slightly, “We speak now about social distancing, but it’s something I’ve been doing for a long time because of homophobia.” You see, as queer Jamaicans – and queer global citizens, really – we’ve been forced to engage in social distancing as a matter of survival for so long that it is now part of our daily existence.

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