We spoke with a number of 2SLGBTQQIA+ people about the ways that they and their communities have been personally impacted by COVID-19 to kick off The Canada-wide 2SLGBTQQIA+ COVID-19 Survey. Read Jaye Garcia’s story!
Jaye Garcia on moving to a new city
Jaye Garcia has never set foot on the York University campus, despite having moved to Toronto in 2020 for graduate studies. Instead of studying at the library, meeting other students in cafés and participating in university life, they’re confined to working from home. “It’s been an adjustment and I’m still bummed out about it,” they say. “The pandemic puts into perspective that you can only take your future day by day or year by year.” Jaye is confident, however, that their chosen career path in social work will prove beneficial as the pandemic compels more discussions about community building and people’s well-being.
Despite courses being online, Jaye decided to leave Edmonton to be closer to their university. “I felt like my life was taking me away from Alberta, but saying farewell to really important chosen family during the pandemic was hard.” In order to observe COVID-19 restrictions, they had to be strategic about who they met up with and there was a lack of closure in the absence of in-person meetings, hugging and goodbye parties. “I’m okay with that now,” they say, “but it was tricky.”
Jaye was already working through trauma around past experiences of sexual assault and domestic abuse, which were exacerbated by the pandemic and a recent diagnosis of adult-onset ADHD. Although the diagnosis helped explain a lot for Jaye, simultaneously adapting to self-isolation and the demands of remote schoolwork heightened a lot of issues around their mental health and self-esteem. “It’s hard not to catastrophize but the catastrophes feel so real and burdensome. I know how easy it is for someone like me to wake up in a pandemic and feel all hope is lost.” In response, Jaye takes solace in friendship. After moving across the country, “I didn’t realize being able to call one of my friends from home would make me feel so full. Those calls mean the world to me.”
“We’re all being overly hard on ourselves,” Jaye says, and aims to be more honest and less worried about expectations of personal performance in a time when people are dying and hospitals are overwhelmed. They point out that the pandemic has also been a time of unprecedented social change, when we’ve seen more queer and trans-identified officials elected in the US, more representation in the media, and more conversations around racism. “Seeing ourselves thriving and keeping that hope alive has always been and continues to be super important.” Jaye also believes that the pandemic has pushed minority communities past a threshold. “Communities are grieving so many losses all at once and we’re so sick and tired of it. Queer activist circles are ready to say: Fuck this bullshit! I can’t handle it anymore, let’s stir some shit up, let’s be vocal!”
How have you experienced the pandemic as a member of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community? Take our survey and share your thoughts with us.