Young Irish LGBTQ+ person shares advice for those forced to go back in the closet during lockdown

As part of the GCNnewvoices series, we platform the opinions and thoughts of LGBTQ+ young writers from across the country.

An illustration of a sad girl overlaid on a house
Image Source: Illustration by Neave Alouf

GCNnewvoices in partnership with BeLonG To will platform the opinions and thoughts of LGBTQ+ young writers from across the country, speaking about issues that matter to them. Emily Montague offers support and advice to those who may be forced to go back into the closet during lockdown.

The coronavirus has affected all of us, from schools and colleges closing to many losing jobs. Within the LGBTQ+ community, something that’s been on my mind is the pressure of being in the closet during lockdown. 

Coming out is one of the hardest things to do. There can be lots of reasons for not coming out as well; you could still be unsure yourself, you might be afraid of not being accepted, especially by your family, or you are not ready for things to change. No one ever wants to hide who they truly are, especially when they’re not ashamed of it. 

Due to lockdown a lot of people haven’t been able to access the support of their LGBTQ+ groups. When places like those shut, it can feel like a lock being put on the closet door. For some, they were already in a difficult environment, and for others, they may have had to move back into a difficult environment. For many, it has meant months of suppressing their true selves. 

It takes a lot to hide who you are, even more so around family members. There are people whose families are extremely anti-LGBTQ+ and perhaps some who are even violent because of that belief. This type of pressure is bound to have a negative impact on mental health. The fact is, it has been mentally challenging. Many of us have probably felt alone, anxious, depressed, scared and angry with ourselves and/or others. You may even have felt numb, not knowing what to think or do or how to feel. It’s okay to not be okay and these feelings are perfectly acceptable and understandable. 

The most important thing to remember is you’re never alone. If you are struggling, try and establish a different form of support. If you were going to a place physically before lockdown and you can’t now, is there someone else you can talk to that you trust? Like a close friend or person within the group you go to? There are also online services you can access through groups like BeLonG To, who are also available to contact by phone, email and SMS. 

The other most important thing to remember is to love yourself for the amazing and wonderful person you are! Don’t change yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. Be proud of yourself. Embrace who you are. You are valid!

The situation we’re in now isn’t forever. You won’t have to keep hiding who you are. This ‘now’ is only temporary, not permanent. Things will get better! Just remember to be kind to yourself.

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