COVID response provides a mixed bag response from the LGBTQ+ community

G. Fletcher , Contributor

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many American’s mental health. As social animals, humans do not tend to cope well in social isolation. Yet throughout 2020 and into 2021, people have been told to do just that — isolate in order to protect each other.
Because of this isolation, it’s not unsurprising to see reports of depression, drug use and anxiety levels increasing across America during the pandemic. Yet, one group that has largely been ignored in coverage of the effects of COVID, has been the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ population in the United States has been historically affected disproportionately by poverty, lack of health insurance, unemployment, and poorer mental and physical health compared with non-LGBTQ people. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made those challenges worse.
Some in the community have found themselves having to isolate with family members who reject their identity. Others have lost contact with their support and social networks.
But one couple says they have found ways to cope and even learned that time alone can have its benefits.
Hexi Wells is an engineer working on software, while Lucy Wells, her partner, is an unemployed Twitch streamer. While Lucy’s employment status has not changed during the pandemic – she remains unemployed –, it’s clear that her relationship with her partner has seen a bit of a change.
“I was not impacted by the pandemic… I didn’t leave the house that much beforehand. The only thing that changed is that I don’t go out on dates as often,” Lucy states. “I’m coming from unemployment to a pandemic, there’s not much that’s going to be changing in that situation.”
However, Hexi noted that the pair have played fewer board games. The pair self-identify as nerds and have had difficulty when it comes to gathering with their friends. With the reduced focus on social gatherings, their hobbies have seen a decline.
Hexi reflects on the inability to get inspired to play board games, stating that, due to being unable to go to stores to see what new board games are out, they are less likely to play games. They also note that their area where they play games with Lucy and their friends is currently a mess.
“The dining room has been a wreck for a [expletive] year at this point,” Hexi reflects . “With all the stress from all the other [expletive] going on in the world, I haven’t really felt like doing anything. Just like, I come home and let my brain rot… [The pandemic] did increase my drinking for a while. I was drinking way more alcohol as a ‘I don’t want to think’ mechanism.”
They added that much of the early media coverage of the pandemic played a large role in their drinking, as well as the inability to get facts from the highest office in the country.
It was like watching high school drama play out in the White House, they agreed.
“We waited a day or two for whatever was said to be processed and then translated through the lens of truth,” they shared in tandem. “Because quite frankly we didn’t trust or believe anything that was being said in the official [White House briefings].” 
Between the two, it’s clear that the pandemic had more of an impact on Hexi. While stressful, the pandemic also has afforded some surprise benefits for Hexi.
“I don’t enjoy being around people for the most part… Being able to have skype or email between me and other people has been really nice,” Hexi said.
Ultimately, Hexi said, she also has come to like working from home, finding it to be far less distracting.
“My office is off the manufacturing floor, which is pretty noisy, and I share the office with one other person, and there’s constantly people coming in to look for him and ask him questions about stuff…,” Hexi said. “If I get distracted and lose my place, I may lose 20 minutes trying to remember what I was trying to do before I can continue working. Working from home has been way more comfortable and more productive.”
Lucy said she’s looking forward to things going back to normal, expressing an excitement of going on dates again, while Hexi is hoping to be able to continue working from home.
While underrepresented, these two people have shared an experience with all Americans. They have struggled, but also learned to adjust, and even seen some benefits from their experience. Where America will go from here is unknown, but Hexi and Lucy say that they do feel more productive in the new normal.