Queer During Quarantine

Title (Dublin Core)

Queer During Quarantine

Description (Dublin Core)

Transcript of Interview with George Carter by Jessica Carter

Interviewee: Lauren Barney
Interviewer: Jessica Carter 3/6/2021
Location (Interviewee): Charlotte, NC
Location (Interviewer): Phoenix, AZ
Transcriber: Jessica Carter

This transcript has been provided by Otter.AI w/ a 2nd pass for accuracy.

Abstract: This is an interview I did with my friend Lauren about being queer during COVID.

JC: All right. Hi, my name is Jessica. I'm an undergraduate student at ASU enrolled in history 494. The date is March 6, and the time is 3:01pm. I'm speaking with Lauren Barney, I wanted to ask you a few questions about your pandemic experience and how that has related to sexuality and gender expression. But before I do, I'd like to ask for your consent to record this response for the COVID-19 archive. The COVID-19 archive is a digital archive at ASU that's collecting pandemic experiences. Do I have your consent to record this response and add it to the archive with your name?

LB: Yes

JC: Perfect. All right, first, can you tell me your name, age, gender identity and sexuality?

LB: Yeah, we do you want my last name too

JC: No, it doesn’t matter

LB: Lauren, Lauren, I'm 21. Um, I am gay. And I guess a woman.

JC: For the archive. I'll also say Jessica Carter. Some variety of gay, non-binary, they/them pronouns 21 as well. Alright. pandemic, thinking you were bi then came out a lesbian? What were, like some of the, I guess, kind of moments that made you think that.

LB: Okay, um, I guess a couple. Um, this one's really bad. Definitely Tik Tok. Like,
the algorithm, I think just knows something's. And definitely I was like, this is strange. And then, the person I was dating at the time, was, like, literally said to me, like, wow, Lauren, you seem to be much more interested in women than you are in men. And that's when I had a mental breakdown silently to myself. And I was like, Fuck, I would say that was the main one.

JC: Yeah, and like, something kind of, like interesting about the Tik Tok algorithm, right? Is that, like, it's based off what you yourself interact with? So it's like, not even something that you can really control?

LB: Yeah, I think because it was so subconscious. It's not like I like would purposely like click on certain videos or stay longer on some videos. tik tok just, like, detected all those things, and was like, Wow,

JC: so much harder to regulate your behavior when, like, it's on an app. Like you're not like consciously being like, I have to be straight now.

LB: Yes, I would agree with you. Also, cuz no one sees your tik tok

JC: Yeah, like nobody sees you have like videos, nobody sees what you're interacting with. So it's a completely neutral way for you to consume media, and it becomes so targeted because that's what like social media is now right. Just targeted. advertising. Yes. Um, what? Like, as you were starting to realize while you were still with your ex, though, so what are kind of some of the holdbacks that you had before like coming out and then living your life as a, like a queer person?

LB: I think it's like scary when you like, have a perception of yourself as like one thing for so long. That it's like, hard to accept that that's wrong. I think especially when it's because I have had, like, a lot of like, straight passing privilege because I was dating a man, even though I thought I was by like, to just completely be like, actually, I'm giving all that up is like kind of scary. I think there were some other complicating factors for why it was really difficult to leave that relationship specifically.

JC: Yeah, and when I like straight up asked you if I was if you were only still with him, because you just didn't want to be a lesbian.

LB: Yeah, that was hard to hear.

JC: I will be honest, I couldn't imagine going to a wedding with you to what I needed. Yeah.
There was no that wasn't in the cards for me needed to not be an occurrence for you to marry him.

LB: No, that would have been very bad. I would have been unhappy for the rest of my life as well.

JC: So do you think that it's like a specific type of treatment that you accepted, like you were willing to accept, like so much worse treatment than you probably would now in a relationship because you maybe subconsciously wanted to keep that privilege?

LB: I think yes. Um, I think for me as well like because I wasn't actually like in First in any man, like the idea of like, leaving, and then dating a man, like, again, was just like something that I, it didn't seem like a thing to me like, it just did not seem like an option. So I was like, Well, I guess we'll just stay here and, you know, have a very bad time.

JC: Yeah. How do you think the pandemic specifically kind of forced you to confront?

LB: I think a couple ways. I think that because I couldn't go anywhere. And I was living with this person, it was like, I saw that him like, every day. And I think that in and of itself, like, makes apparent a lot of issues. Um, I also think that like, because I was really limited in the number of people I could see because of COVID. Like, there wasn't anyone else that I had to, like, perform straightness for, like, when I was in Texas, like, I didn't have to, like see my family, or like my grandma, and like, behave and look like a certain way. And like worry about, you know, what would my grandma say, honestly, he's probably a little homophobic, but that's a problem for later.

JC: Um like, when I was in Georgia, for that ethics bowl thing, I met up with my great aunt and uncle and we got lunch. And I'm, like, losing it, because the only thing I have is men's clothing. And like that really floral Express shirt, and I'm like, Oh my God, is this gonna look feminine? Like for this to like, be okay.

LB: Yeah. And, yeah, definitely.

JC: Like, because once you start to understand a lot of like, sexuality and gender as being a performance so much for other people, as opposed to yourself and kind of break some of that stuff down.

LB: Yeah. I think also because like, when I like before the pandemic, and was like, interacting, like I could, like go out and like meet other queer people. And like other people who were like any identified as like LGBT, but like, during the pandemic, that's like, not possible. So it felt like even more like I was cut off from like, that aspect of myself. And it was like, What is happening here? Something is not right.

JC: ah. And I recently just read the lesbian master doc, but like one thing that's like really big is like compulsive compulsory like heterosexuality. Yeah, I thought “I'm too smart.”

LB: I read that as well. And that was not I mean, I don't know if it was a good or a bad time. Like, I think on one hand, like, it's a it was good for me to read it. Because it like helps me to be like, this is real. You're not just like making shit up in your brain. That document is Thank God for that document.

JC: It's like really helpful. And it's like, caused a lot of reflection for me too. Because, like, for me when I was like, I guess I would like be with a man because like, I've, like, had what I thought or like emotional feelings for men, but like, on reflection, like all really like, mediocre men, like men that I probably would not, like ever be happy with. Yeah. Because like, my perspective is like, well, if somebody like needed me to, like, if the world was gonna end, I guess I could. Yeah. But like, I don't know, like, also just like authenticity, testing your queerness to try to have, like, fully, like, get out of that, if that makes sense.

LB: Yeah, it does. I mean, I think for me, like, it's a lot easier now. Because like, back when I thought I was bi. Like, this was like a regular thing. I would literally have like, bouts of anxiety of like, I feel like I'm not gay enough. Like, I don't even know if that makes sense. Just that like I wasn't being perceived as queer. I was just being perceived as straight, which is like fair, because I was in a relationship with a man. And so it like that, looking back on that now, like, makes me realize, like, clearly something was wrong. And like, I knew it was wrong. I just, like ignored it. And so now when I try to authenticity, test myself, I think it's, like, easier to look back on that and be like, no look like, it's fine.

JC: Yeah, and it's like, I don't know, because like, the like, the experience of queer women is so different than, like queer men. Do. Sorry. I just I was just saying that like the difference of like queer women is so much different than that of queer men because it's like a relationship that is just not for men in like a patriarchal society where almost like everything is for them.

LB: I agree. I think it's like really hard to get out of that like priority. tising relationships with men. Um, no, I agree. I think that's why partly why I feel like such a disconnect from like, womanhood is like, what? I think society views is like what it means to be a woman like I can't exactly access that very easily.

JC: Yeah, and like I think the Contra points video like does a really good job of like explaining that because like queer like Butch women, like especially being terfs was like one not something that I was expecting.

LB: Yeah

JC: But the fact that they feel like they need to, like double down on their femininity that they've constantly been forced to defend as opposed to, like, trans women who they believe just opting into womanhood is like an easier experience. When and I don't know, like, I guess starting to talk about like, gender expression is that compares with like, being queer. Like, for me, a lot of it's been, like, come to been becoming comfortable, like identifying myself as like a trans person. Because like, if you remember, like, I didn't always really, like claim that label.

LB: Yeah, yeah, I remember.

JC: And just like, I don't know, understanding that and like, what that means, because like, I feel like I have to, like have like, a hard definition. And getting comfortable with knowing that I do. Yeah. Have you done any, like, specific reflecting on like, gender identity stuff? I mean, I have,

LB: I mean, I think for me, the reflection is just like, more so been about my sexuality. I'm like, what it means to be a woman because I think it's like, fundamentally different, like, as a lesbian, to be a woman than it was to be a straight woman and be a woman or a bisexual woman and be a woman. Like, I think that's the part that I have a hiccup on and say, like, Well, I suppose. I think
that's been kind of the bulk of my thinking

JC: My Tik tok, I'll get a lot of videos about break the way that like gender expression for women or for lesbians is like, so fundamentally different than for everybody else, right. And then, like, contrasting that, with how we relate to like, other queer women, if that makes sense, and like building community out of that.

LB: Yeah

JC: I don't know. That's just something that I've kind of been thinking about with regard to gender.

LB: Wait will you explain that a little more.

JC: Yeah, just like, because like, we've talked about, like our opinions on how there really is like, no LGBT community, because everybody's experiences so varied. Yeah, but like understanding that like lesbians relate to by women and that there is like that attraction to women, which, like, oftentimes, you have to fight about against being produced as a commodity for men. And then, like understanding like our own, like experiences is so different from that of by women because they still feel validation and can like be in relationships with men.

LB: I would agree. Yes, I would agree with that. I mean, like lately Tick Tock has felt like it's a good idea to put on my for you page like videos of these like bi women who just like, wish they were lesbians or like, one day, like, they were like, I don't know, I saw this like specific one. And it was a bi woman being like, somedays I just like wish I was a lesbian. And then some days, I'm like, oh, but this man is hot. And I'm just like, this frustrates me to no end. And I wish you would not make this video.

JC: Like, no, yeah, I used to get a lot of those videos. Like it's not easier.

LB: Its harder

JC: No, yeah. Because like, then you have to deal with like all other stuff. And there's not like there's a difference between the myth of like the greedy bisexual versus the predatory lesbian.

LB: Oh, yeah. That Yes, I would agree.

JC: One of those. Like, I'll even rank them one of those is explicitly worse and it's not the bisexual.

LB: No, I agree. And like I also think that there's like a distinct difference and like, how I related to society when I was like, thought I was bi versus like, now like, I guess this is just like I have to like specifically like ask my therapist like when I first met her, like Are you okay with gay people? Because I live in fucking North Carolina?

JC: And yeah. No, yeah. And I've been looking for one to be like an explicit statement on the website. Yeah, I use that all. I'm trying to get like insurance cover therapy.

LB: Yeah, I am paying out of pocket for this very nice. She is said she's on the LGBT, whatever one of the acronym letters, and Huh, I don't have to have insurance or because I'm still on my parent's insurance. And there is no way I can be like, Hello, mom and dad, I need to go to therapy, and it's going to be on your insurance because I have some issues, because that is not an option. It's just, it's way more difficult. It fucking sucks.

JC: Yeah, and like as compared to me, like my parents, like, want me to get therapy. But like, for me, it's just like, have conversation and like so much family stuff too. Because like my cousin like, Dean, he's like trans.

LB: Yeah.

JC: And like he was just so assuming that the family was going to be accepting of him. And that's crazy to me.

LB: Yeah,

JC: when I was 14, I realized I was queer. Like, I did not think I was gonna have a family.

LB: Yeah.

JC: And he's just like, so optimistic. So also like, trying to be this like, queer role model of positivity.

LB: Yeah, I agree. I think that's really hard as because my, one of my siblings is like bi
and she's like, not really out to like my parents. And it's like, hard. Because like, I obviously came out first, just to my parents, not to my grandma. But it's like when I talk to her, like, we're both like like because my grandparents on my dad's side are like Trump, Republican. They only watch Fox News kind of people. Like my aunt voted for Trump. And it's like, this. I like danger.

JC: No, but like, my Aunt that but like, she's raising my cousin and like, apparently she's like, cool with it. But like, contrasting the political with the reality is so, so difficult to Yeah. like, also, like queer people have such a valid reason to be so wary of therapists and doctors. Like I don't want to get sent to pray the gay away camp, you know? Like, I'm an adult now. So that won't happen to me. But that was a real fear I had when I was younger.

LB: Okay, did you have? Did you get your wisdom teeth out? Okay, on a scale of like, one to 10 how terrified were you that you were going to like accidentally come out while you were,

JC: Oh I got my wisdom teeth out when I was 20

LB: Oh, shit. Really?

JC: Yeah We waited a hot minute. No, but like I was really worried that for I guess, like for the gender identity stuff. I was concerned about that. Because, like, I think my parents would be accepting but I can't even begin to imagine how I'm going to explain what non binary is to like, to like 60 year olds, like I don't.

LB: I tried with my mom. She just like, refuses. Oh, she said some really bad politics recently. Like I almost hung up the phone a couple times. Because she, okay. slightly off topic, but she literally said that she was like kind of unbothered by some of the allegations that have come out recently. And I was like, this is very upsetting to me.
JC: Against Who?

LB: I even remember. She was just like, fine, like, okay, that is not what I want here.

JC: First came out is bi my parents like my mom. Like took that as straight light, if that makes any sense.

LB: Yes, it does.

JC: Like so desperately She wants me to end up with a man and that's just like not gonna. That's not in the cards for us, Nancy?

LB: No, my mom does too. Like she has like made comments to like k before? Because my mom asked Kate right because I didn't say like I'm a lesbian and I hate men. To my parents. I was just like I'm dating a girl. That coming out was absolutely horrible, but that's fine. And my mom like asked my sister like how like does Lauren still like men like wanting me to end up with one basically what she said there's just like that is I would literally rather like die I cannot imagine.

JC: like these little like tricky comments that like family members will make about um like basically trying to guide you back into being straight without explicitly like hate crime you.

LB: Yeah, I mean, for me Like my mom would say this shit like to my face. Like, she'll say like to my sisters. Like, you can't fucking say this shit to Sarah. And like, Kate's just gonna fucking tell me.

JC: It's super, super frustrating because like, the reflection that it seems like at least based on like social media trends a lot of queer women have had to go through as a result of COVID as a result of just like not being in the male gaze anymore, right? Yeah, like straight women just haven't had to, and in many cases, like feel just like they're being very cavalier about it. Like an unwillingness to understand and just like a complete inability to empathize.

LB: No, I agree. Like, someone's because my Kate is like, literally the straightest person in the entire world. And it's like some of the shoots she says about like, gay women. I'm just like, this makes me not want to hang out with you

JC: No, yeah. And like the fear, like I have like a constant like incessant fear of coming off as predatory because I'm,

LB: oh, yeah,

JC: definitely, like on the more masculine like end of it and like figuring out how to come to terms with that and realizing that that's not like, like a real thing that queer women do. Like where women are men.

LB: Yeah. I think it's hard when the like, predominant perception that we have of people who like women are like predatory men. Like, do you remember like, Amanda, I like Kayla's house like Kayla's apartment.

JC: If you think I remember any of those little excursions, you'd be incorrect. Can you remind me?

LB: Well, wait, she was like, Look at this cute thing I'm wearing and then, you know, what do you remember?

JC: Like vaguely? Okay, I'll probably fill in

LB: like, both of us were like, wait, Amanda. No, we are like not looking

JC: Oh, yeah. No, I do remember this

LB: Like, I felt so fucking uncomfortable.

JC: No, yeah. In like, it's so weird. Because she was like, look at my outfit. And both of us were like, I physically can't.

LB: Yeah, I was like, I would rather die right now. Yeah. No, yeah.

JC: And like, just like understanding and like, the way the pandemic has, like, forced you to look at those things is like, super frustrating. Because I definitely feel like it forced, like a lot of queer women to reckon with that before they might have been ready.

LB: Yeah, I don't know that I was ready.

JC: You needed to be?

LB: I agree with you. Because I think if it went on any longer, that would be absurd. And it would just make it way more difficult. And then I wouldn't have had a lot of the experiences that like I had.

JC: just wish that like. I don't know that like, even like straight women at all would do that kind of reckoning. Just like think about it. Because like, I feel like a lot for a lot of straight women because I've not seen very many like healthy straight relationships.

LB: Yeah, I haven't either.

JC: They just like hate their husband. And they're like, Well, why can't like are women like also to take their husbands? Like the rest of us?

LB: Like, that's like, so frustrating to me. Because, like, being in a fulfilling relationship where the person doesn't treat you like a piece of shit. It's like, so nice. And this pisses me off like so. Like, it just makes me angry for those women.

JC: Even like being in a queer relationship. I took it for so long.

LB: Yeah

JC: So wild to me too. Because like my like, in that relationship, the perception of like, She's like, the nice like fun one. And Jessica is like, a diet asshole all the time. Yeah, like, I don't know, like, I wish there was like a space where these relationships could be talked about to understand, like, the dynamics that they have. Because like, I think that like an open dialogue would make like straight and queer relationships so much healthier.

LB: Yeah, I agree. I think like the is there's so much like stigma around that type of stuff. Like I know, for me, it was like, especially true like, first of all, you have to admit to yourself that there's a problem, which is very hard. And then to like, say that out loud to another person means you like can't ignore it anymore.

JC: No, yeah, I remember. One time I got coffee with our dear debate friend.

JC: Yeah. And I was with him and I was like, I should be happy. Like I've had this like girlfriend for like three years. I'm like, about to go do a study abroad. Like things should be good, but like my rat brain keeps telling me that I have to break up with her. And like, have you ever thought about maybe breaking up with her? I was like, no.

LB: I feel that

JC: like the same sense of security that like comes from being in like, a queer relationship because like dating or queer is so much more different to like, depending on like how progressive the area you're in is. Yeah. I don't know, the pandemic has definitely been like good for reflecting but like maybe not in like the healthiest way if you're constantly focused on yourself.

LB: No, I agree. I think also because like a lot of people like are missing their, like normal support systems. Like having to do that recognition can be like so much more. I don't want to say like harmful but for lack of a better word, like it can be like a lot harder, I think.

JC: Yeah, really stressful. Um, Do we have anything more to say about this or?

LB: I don't know. That those were my comments.

JC: I don't think so. This is about 25 minutes, so it's probably good. Alright, I'll stop recording.

Date (Dublin Core)

Contributor (Dublin Core)

Event Identifier (Dublin Core)

Partner (Dublin Core)

Type (Dublin Core)

audio interview

Controlled Vocabulary (Dublin Core)

Curator's Tags (Omeka Classic)

Contributor's Tags (a true folksonomy) (Friend of a Friend)

Collection (Dublin Core)

Date Submitted (Dublin Core)


Date Modified (Dublin Core)


Date Created (Dublin Core)


Item sets

This item was submitted on March 7, 2021 by Jessica Carter using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

Click here to view the collected data.

New Tags

I recognize that my tagging suggestions may be rejected by site curators. I agree with terms of use and I accept to free my contribution under the licence CC BY-SA