we have been here before.

March 19, 2020

.As a community, back in the early 1980’s, we experienced the panic, fear and isolation that is now gripping the world, and with us, it was the advent of AIDS.


Our whole community went into disbelief and then fear and then ‘Oh my God – no more sex life’ and when the realization of the size and the impact this was having on the gay community where many lives – many whole communities - were simply devastated.


As the community struggled to get to grips with its own pandemic – it seemed at times as if the media, the people and many were turning their backs on those who were in need of love and support, and it took a few years before the gay world themselves started various organisations to help - and only later did government funds start to offer some semblance of assistance.


The LGBT world supported itself throughout and this coming together of gay minds, was amazing to be a part of, as usually, the gay scene is quite competitive and unless rich, famous or hung like a horse, many are ignored.But it was slow.


Many died.


A whole generation of handsome 30 something gay men – dead decades before their time, and the LGBT world shouldered this largely alone for a long time.


Now we have a global pandemic that has actually – so far – killed very few compared to even the yearly count for normal flu or even suicides. Yet the world has gone into melt down – panic mode – where whole cities are closed, people told to stay in their homes and some even have the military on the streets fining people who are out unnecessarily.


We gay men have seen this kind of fear before.


We older gay men – us survivors of those times, remember all too well the head space we went through, with it on your mind 24/7 – never far from your thoughts, and the downer that can follow if we allow our worries to overcome us. Yet we are still here and people are living with Aids and no longer dying on mass as back then.


Times have moved on.


People have become blasé and the world has forgotten – largely – what we went through 30 years ago. We have seen this before. The straight world has not. This current Corona Virus will have hit the psyche of many straights – hard.


The realisation that death is so close.


That society is so fragile.


That our health can be taken so much for granted and that modern medicine does not have all the answers and people will die.Period.


We, as a human species, are not as clever as we think we are.Back in the late 80’s I was a Bereavement Counsellor for the LGBT Bereavement Project – as gay men from that period had such a wide experience of death and funerals – because we lost so many friends over a quite short space of time, and the experience of this enabled some to become good counsellors to those less able, less experienced and less strong emotionally.

Now is the time for the LGBT world to step up and offer help where we can – to the elderly – to families with children locked indoors going nuts – to neighbours and to strangers. Now is the time for a collective ‘coming together’ – which is not a euphemism – to support – not just our own – but the community at large.


We are all in this together and every man, woman and child will be relying on every other man, women and child – putting on a united front regardless of gay or straight, trans of whatever.


We are human beings fighting a bigger cause than the petty things we allow to intrude on our lives and where we ignore the bigger picture. Corona Virus reminds us all of - the bigger picture.


Check on any elderly neighbours or relatives.


Check on friends and family.


Shop for those in need and sometimes, just a friendly chat is all that is needed to lift someones spirits. Keeping your distance.


Keeping everyone safe.


Phone and do not just text or e mail, it shows solidarity and everyone at this time will really welcome hearing a voice and a cheery laugh – of someone showing concern and care, and this goes a very long way.


We will miss Eurovision and maybe even the Olympics. I have cancelled my 20th anniversary of being at Hamilton Hall – and where we can, we can skype each other to stay face to face – as ‘ every little helps.’Keep well. Keep safe.


Keep your distance and we shall all see you on the other side. One way or the other.You are in my prayers.


John Bellamy






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