It’s been three years since the COVID-19 virus was declared a global pandemic. In March, Two-Spirit elders reflected on the impact COVID has had on Two-Spirit communities over the last three years, remembering the many ways Indigiqueer relatives have stepped up to support each other.
“As a mental health provider, the impact I really saw on our Two Spirit and Native LGBTQ community was depression, anxiety, and isolation,” said Lenny Hayes. “Early in the pandemic I created a support group for Two Spirit and Native LGBTQ people along with a couple other people… The biggest thing I heard from participants in the groups I facilitated is if you were taking care of someone—because we know our Two Spirit community members, they’re caretakers—if you were taking care of someone you couldn’t talk about the impact of the pandemic on yourself with them. So this support group was for people to be able to come and talk about their experiences, to sit and cry, to worry about family members and cry, to grieve family members who passed away from COVID. We met every week. We had 10 to 25 people. I didn’t call it a mental health group, because that stigmatizes it. It was a support group. We wanted to create a safe space for our Two-spirit and Native LGBTQ+ relatives to be in community.”
“I don’t feel like I’m out of COVID,” said an anonymous elder. “I’m still there. I’m still worried about my grandchildren. I’m worried about my own stuff. I’m still scared. I think the hardest part of it was being determined that I’m going to protect myself even if other people aren’t protecting themselves. Some people I really cared about died, because they didn’t protect themselves. That was difficult. I still want to keep a distance from people. Hide out. It’s like living in this foggy cave. One of the thoughts that I had—that I still have—is that it’s no worse than what we’ve been through already.”
Read more at PathsRemembered.org.
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