Sexual Minorities Uganda joined Icebreakers Uganda this afternoon for an enlightening online conversation about how to cope with homophobic family members during this COVID-19 lock down. Due to the COVID-19 lock down, many LGBTIQ people have had to go back to their homes where they are faced with homophobia.
Dr Frank Mugisha the Executive Director Sexual Minorities Uganda-SMUG said, “Isolation can lead to depression and stress. I am sure many cases of violence and social exclusion towards LGBT persons will go unreported during this lock down. Please reach out and speak to someone we care about your mental health.”
When asked about how best it would be for one to come out to their parents during the self isolation period, Dr Frank said “Coming out “ is a personal journey and varies from individual to individual . Happy to provide some support on “coming out “ directly to individuals who feel comfortable about this.”
Icebreakers Uganda Programs Director Ayesiga Herbert said; “Self isolation can be difficult when the people you stay with don’t understand you or those who understand you don’t accept you. This is why we have put in place contacts, community members can call or send an send a text to requesting to be called back for therapy sessions from our team of 6 counselors and psychologists who will be conducting phone call and online sessions.”
Our Research and Documentation officer Richard Lusimbo noted that in a bid to have an informed and calm LGBTIQ community in Uganda, SMUG will continue to share information with the community on the necessary measures they have to take to remain safe as shared and guided by the Uganda Ministry of Health and World Health Organization.
Below are some of the tips we shared:
Tip 1: Try to avoid verbal confrontations. Even if they come at you with homophobic quips don’t respond as this may turn into a worse situation. Breathe & count to 10 before you respond, this will allow you to organize your mind before you blurt out something you might regret.
Tip 2: Be helpful around the house. That way they will see that although you are an LGBTIQ person, you are resourceful and can be relied on.
Tip 3: Be kind to your parents and siblings during the COVID19 lock down. This way you will have people to defend you when they see another family member being homophobic towards you.
Tip 4: Make sure you have a password on your phone & follow digital security measures e.g log out of any laptop used, delete messages from your partner, log out of your social media accounts.This helps keep the communication between you and other LGBTIQ community members secure.
Tip 5: Try and blend in the way you carry yourself so as not to raise suspicion. Although out here we affirm you as a transgender man or woman please try and “behave accordingly” during the lock down. We need you alive and safe.
Tip 6: Keep your mind occupied to blot out the negativity. Read books, magazines and articles. Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles anything to keep you away from overthinking.
Tip 7: Last but not least, do not forget to follow the health tips from the Ministry of Health. Wash or sanitize regularly, do not touch MEN (mouth, eyes and nose) and practice social distancing.