The effect of the Covid 19 pandemic on Palestine’s queer community.
After Maryam’s father found photos of her with her girlfriend, he rushed to her room with a knife. Her mother, clinging to his back, saved her. Because of the pandemic in Palestine, shelters that otherwise could have offered her refuge did not have space to take her in. Instead, she planned her escape. The lockdown that immediately followed prevented her family from finding her. Now, finally, she’s safe.
When Taim lived alone, he would don his red leather pants and pull on his high-heeled boots whenever he wanted to. But, as with many gay Palestinians, the upheaval caused by the coronavirus across the line in Israel has reverberated in his life. The public health lockdown in Israel squeezed the highly dependent West Bank economy, and with money tight, he was forced to move back to his parents’ home, where he had to adjust his behaviour to accommodate his conservative family.
For Reema, financial stress and depression have coloured her daily life. In late 2019, she decided to quit her job and freelance as an artist instead, a move she expected would have allowed her time to work on her own creative projects. But the pandemic killed job opportunities and limited her access to mental health support.
“You either give up to the fact that there’s lockdown, no work, no money, nothing to do,” Reema said. “Or you use all the tools you have to get out of this as best as you can.”