"Leave No One Behind" Group Exhibition Vol3: the most marginalized are left behind: life through the pandemic

Artist: Sevinj Abbas Description: The ongoing global pandemic has been challenging and tough for everyone, and it is no surprise that women and LGBTI+s have suffered the most. Queer Art Festival has conducted discussion meetings by creating a safe space for women and LGBTI+s where they can talk about the struggles and challenges they faced during the pandemic and how it affected their lives. This article is the summary of the general discussion and different points made by the participants. Most participants mentioned that they felt pretty good at the beginning of the pandemic since it gave them some free time off from work and society to relax. However, as time passed things started to go not as well as they used to. Arising difficult conditions made most queers and women lose their jobs or work/study from a distance and as a result, most of them had to leave the capital city and move back to regions to their families. After living far from their families for a long time, it was hard to get along with them under the same roof. They faced constant pressure from their family members for different reasons like being jobless, the way they express themselves, being single, and so on. One of the participants also mentioned that the homophobic and misogynistic attitudes in the house were hard to witness and it was impossible to educate them on the topics. Lockdown with parents in a house was a very tough period for most of the queers and women. They say that the heterosexuals were mostly fine with the situation, but it was challenging for them to adjust to a new life where you are out of their comfort zone. They did not want to see or talk to anyone during this period and they were also feeling more vulnerable to phobia since they were living in more conservative environments like regions. Most queer people do not see their biological family as an actual family and they create one around themselves to survive. Being away from their friends and the social circle they created made them feel alone and depressed. Also, financial conditions played a big role during the pandemic. For instance, public transport was not working on weekends and some participants mentioned that they did not have enough money to pay for a cab to go to the meetings and socialize or spend time with their friends on the weekends. Also, most participants reported that their existing psychological problems increased and they felt more aggressive than normal during the pandemic. They started to experience panic attacks more often and felt more emotional during the day. Aggressions were mostly arising against the government and the decisions they were making regarding the lockdown. Most people were feeling uncertain and insecure since their daily life was heavily based on the measure taken by the government. In the middle of the pandemic, we experienced war, which made everything even worse. Access to the internet was limited. Some of the participants are working in schools and they mentioned that the pandemic and the ongoing war caused big problems in the education system. They also said that education is not the priority for the government and we obviously witnessed it during the lockdown. The closure of schools and distance education was tough to adapt to and decreased the quality of education. “It also demotivated students to study” - another participant added. The struggles of LGBTI+s and women are not limited to the stories mentioned above and certainly, there is a lot more they experience and go through. The situation with COVID-19 was challenging and overwhelming for the whole world, but during a crisis, the most vulnerable always struggle the most.

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