The Queerantining

As more and more of us are lining up to get vaccinated, it feels as if there is light at the end of this tumultuous year-long tunnel called quarantine. Although I am excited for the increasing potential to meet loved ones face to face instead of through Zoom calls, I’ve been lately reflecting on how quarantine had shaped my last year.

After graduating from Zoom university, I have, in some ways, more free time than I did pre-quarantine. I had a short stint as a plant mom(RIP Glen - I’m sorry I forgot to water you for two months), I have an on-and-off relationship with meditating, and I have reunited with my lost love of writing cringe-worthy poetry. Amidst it all, I ultimately have had more time to think and subsequently have found myself as a part of Queerantine.

With over 7.6M mentions on TikTok, queeratine is a term describing the increasing number of people who realized they were a part of the LGBTQIA+community during quarantine. This phenomenon isn’t random either - as a society when we have more free time (time not spent on labor), we have more time to introspect on our lives, and for a lot of us, this meant we realized we were queer.

This queerantine, I had multiple mini identity crises because I finally had time to question my sexual orientation. Honestly, my long-held crush on both Jade and Beck from Victorious should have been my first indicator that I was bi. During quarantine, I had time and space to unpack my internalized biphobia that had prevented me for so long from embracing my sexuality. I had more time to learn about my queer history and feel connected to other bisexual people who have thrived throughout history (the Bi Pan Library has been instrumental in this endeavor).

Moreover, an increasing number of people have also begun to question our relationship to gender. According to Judith Butler, “gender is a performative act,” meaning we create gender through “a stylized repetition of acts which produce gender.” We don’t “have to perform our gender” as stringently during isolation as we did pre-quarantine, providing us the opportunity to reimagine how we perform gender.

I think this is beautiful.

It is beautiful how, as a collective, we are learning to deconstruct gender and see ourselves and each other in our fullness. Before the world seemingly paused in March 2020, I think many of us operated on autopilot: work, school, XYZ responsibilities, etc., and so we didn’t have time to inspect the colors more closely. For me, I can see the pink, purple, and blue hues a little bit better now.

As we move through a post-quarantine world, I hope we recognize the importance of setting time aside for introspection, whether it’s through journaling, painting, therapy or just doing something you love. In the coming months, there will be more calls to go back to “normal.” But I don’t want normal or at least the version we had before. I want us to reimagine our society and advocate for public policy that reflects that future—a future where we get the time to know ourselves and each other a little better.

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