Status check: IAM team reflection

At the onset of working remotely, we as IAM staff committed to weekly check-ins each Wednesday morning, and we have honoured this commitment for the past five weeks. We also committed to share our experiences of lockdown with each other. Some Wednesdays are light, and we find laughter as we share stories of juggling the existing workload, family, and personal wellness. Other Wednesdays we remind each other that LGBTIQ+ bodies are particularly vulnerable during this time of lockdown and draw strength from each other to continue to do what we do.

Over the past few weeks, we have written blog posts as a team, offering our thoughts as we journey together remotely as a #communityofcare. At first, we had a long list of themes for blog posts. This week, in week five, we have put aside our themes and each reflected from where we find ourselves. 

Here are some of our thoughts…

Thuli celebrates Lesbian Visibility week 

I woke up to a text on Monday that said: “Thuli are you a lesbian?” Well, my shock at waking up to such news. In-between laughs, incoming and outgoing texts, I realized how easy acceptance comes in our rainbow activist community. Mind you, I have since received two more texts from fellow activists asking the same question.

Lesbian Visibility Week is to celebrate and show community with all queer women. Due to COVID-19, the celebration of Lesbian Visibility Week is being conducted digitally. I would like to celebrate our ‘letties’ who have put their lives on the line through their activist work (listing names would violate my limited word count and I would not want to leave any person out). 

From the radical feminist lesbians to the domesticated and heteronormative lesbians – we honor you. 

From the visual artists to writers, carpenters, radio deejays, chefs, miners, and essential workers – we honour you. 

From the reverends fighting within to those who left the church or their faith due to being excluded – we honour you. 

From those who have lost their lives at the hands of injustice and hate, to those who live closeted – we think of you. 

Love and light to you all during this period of social isolation.

To all queer women who love women (yes, I said ALL) may you remember that in living your truth, your simple existence is embodied resistance.  This week we celebrate your courage, your resilience, and your life.

Alida shares her gratitude

What I would like to share is that I am very thankful that I can work during this time as it brings purpose to each day. Cedric and I are privileged to be safe and healthy at this stage. Our children are very caring about us and support us where they can.

Marlow reminds us that life is filled with complexity

My greatest challenge under lockdown is that despite the silence and isolation imposed on us by our national government, the noise in my head seems to become louder and louder with each day. Suddenly I’m confronted with so much to think about…

My own sanity and attempting not to become selfish or self-seeking…

Being present and available to my daughter and not becoming outwardly irritable or impatient, when all she is trying is to understand and make sense of matters that even we as adults grapple with…

Anxiety and worry for my elderly mother where our connection and contact has been reduced only to a daily telephonic conversation…

Fear for my partner who is on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19. A job that must be done and accepted with all the risks…

Pressure to maintain and run a household…

Sadness and helplessness in dealing with the awareness of desperation, death and dying every day…

And in all of this, simply finding the stillness to exhale, breathe again, listen, appreciate and count my blessings.

It’s hard work to navigate the noise in your own head. But the noise reminds me that I’m alive. Stillness and quiet comes when I literally force myself and remind myself to step away, to shut the door behind me, to escape into my own sanctuary – where currently there are no rules and restrictions – and connect with self… if only for a fleeting moment.

Final remarks… an unfinished thought from Michelle 

As an LGBTIQ+ ally and faith leader I have spent the past five weeks asking myself two questions that my spiritual director asks at every session. 

How do I see God? …or where is God in this moment?

How does God see me? …or where do I join God in this moment?

Over the past five weeks I have started doing yoga four to five times a week. I have experienced God anew in moving slowly and breathing deeply. How strange that I have found God in breathing, when the COVID-19 virus affects the airways and symptomatic people need ventilators to breathe. I started wondering if God is also struggling to breathe, perhaps. Have we as faith leaders stifled God in some way and limited God’s breath to spaces that we can control? I have only begun to explore this question. I get some sense of an answer when my congregation meets on a Sunday during lockdown – we meet remotely, with a pre-recorded service. Households of all kinds across boundaries meet – families of various shapes and sizes, individuals, couples, and households. Across geographical, class, race, gender, and sexual identity, we listen to the same message and respond in various ways. I get the sense that God is helping us to breathe outside of buildings and with a sense of reaching beyond borders and boundaries.