Quarantined All My Life: Of Queer Lives & Isolation

Quarantined All My Life: Of Queer Lives & Isolation
Kumam Davidson

“The physical and mental isolation that I have gone through my life has been overwhelming and undocumented (trans and queer lives are anyway not documented enough). In this lockdown, I didn’t feel that I was locked up because I have been locked up at various points of my life physically in my own space and also otherwise mentally locked up in my own head for fear of being judged, bullied, shamed and stigmatised. I don’t think many abled-bodied, straight and heteronormative people fully understand this lived experience.”

Quarantine literally stands for loss of freedom. For the first in about a hundred years, we are all finding ourselves restricted within the four walls of the house for fear of the Coronavirus. What we do not realise, however, that quarantine is not merely a physical experience. It’s as mental and emotional as physical, perhaps more so. For a few of us, like Kumam Davidson here, this quarantine is not the first, because they have been in a mental and emotional quarantine for the most part of their lives. With a lot of courage and love, Kumam decided to write about his experiences here.

Says Kumam, “For once I was really angry and my post was partially fuelled by that anger against those who continue to bully us, those who have taken over all the spaces and leave us twice isolated during the lockdown. Much like the saying, “it’s a men’s world”, I think, “it’s the able-bodied’s and straight people’s world”. Others are pushed to the margins and there is no acknowledgement of this unfairness. Just the other day, in my locality, trans-people had to file a case in court against a juvenile (straight young boy) who went on to publicly harass them that the ‘transgenders’ are spreading COVID- 19 in the locality without any evidence and grounding in his allegations. And I suspected such activities coming out of acute boredom and self-validated power to oppress others. Such stories are commonplace. Honestly, people around me including my own relatives and social media friends keep whining about the lockdown and are surprised that many of us are still carrying on without whining. That comes from their privilege-lack of resilence and oppression of our kind and our resilence.

Of course, there are those who are sensitive, supportive among straight people, and I truly appreciate their words of love and care.”

Kumam says that he writes from his positionality and experience, but his views also shaped by many other trans-queer lives with whom he has shared life and who continue to support him as he continues to support them.

Here’s Kumam, in his own words.

I have felt being quarantined for a long long time even before this pandemic.

Society used to call me obedient, decent, and good. I was never seen in local clubs or Bender’s (local pub), sitting on bridges to stalk and flirt or abuse women. What appeared as decency and obedience was a disguise of my self-isolation and alienation. The same society that called me ‘decent’ dismissed my identity and way of life. I was scared of being bullied, stigmatised, and ostracised. I learnt to live in isolation (physical and emotional).

See, it’s never that simple. The pandemic has taught us all what isolation is, but let me tell you, many of us have been in isolation our whole lives. If today, you want to ask me why I stopped being friends with a lot of those I used to be friends with, it’s because they made me feel bad about myself. At this point, I feel that they owe me an apology, otherwise, I have nothing to lose. They lost a progressive, accepting person— a survivor.

What if you were in my shoes, think about it, what you would do!

During the lockdown, I also realised there are those who continue to celebrate their straight and heteronormative couplehood, family-hood, and there are those who have lost homes and families. And then, there are those whose lives are privileged enough to have a roof over their head, have enough to eat, but are pushed to extreme isolation for their sense of identity, love and family raise society’s respectable eyebrows. Sometimes, we hide within closets our broken hearts, longing, lust.



We still live in an unequal and biased society, and that is not just in terms of wealth and resources, but also in whether one can love someone and be loved or not! Our own families shun us, so forget about others. For many of us, our lives are reduced to self-isolation and loneliness due to the burden of society’s expectations.

Indeed, I have felt being quarantined for a long long time even before this pandemic.”

Kumam Davidson is a writer, researcher, and activist from Manipur, India. He is co-founder of The Chinky Homo Project, a digital anthology of LGBTQ lives of northeast India. He is also Zubaan Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellow 2019 and Mann Mela Mental Health Design Resident Artist 2020. He studied literature from Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. His writings have been widely published in South Asia. He is currently editing and curating the The Chinky Homo Project Pandemic Series.

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