Life in Lockdown: Why we need virtual (LGBT*IQ) communities more than ever

In this opinion piece, Claudia Feiner, Project Manager Esports Community and Founder of Proud@Porsche, writes about what remote work does to us, why we need virtual (LGBT*IQ) communities more than ever now, and what gaming has to do with it.

By Sasha Freeman via Unsplash

Life in lockdown is proving though for many of us, particularly if we are living alone. What looked like a manageable phase of moderate self-reliant retreat into our homes has now become an unpopular routine. What is still ahead of us with Covid-19 are the findings on the emotional challenge, especially for those who do not live in a family, but alone. To be clear, the corona measures are important and correct to take responsibility as a society and to remain able to act.

And yet, as part of the LGBT*IQ community, I feel it is important to speak about the social and health consequences that the coronavirus and the prolonged lockdowns have caused, and how this is affecting some groups more than others. For example, some studies show that the LGBT*IQ community is disproportionately affected by the effects of the Covid-19 measures: mental health, homophobic family associations, domestic violence and social isolation. These are just some of the effects that affected people are reporting.

Our safe space is suddenly gone

But the most important one: With the elimination of LGBT*IQ hangouts such as parties, discos, community centres and bars, it is not only contact points for social contacts that are missing. The entire safe space of the LGBT*IQ community has suddenly disappeared from everyday life. The places where the members of the community can feel welcome, invited and can come as they are. The places where they are not exposed to stigmatization, where they do not have to explain themselves, how exonerating.

Stefan Simons recently summed up the importance of safe spaces very well in one of his podcasts: “The need for safe spaces is an indicator that we do not have an inclusive society, but one that requires such safe spaces.” Please do not get me wrong, I am not here with social criticism, rather I would like to open up the context for the following question: If the safe spaces in the private sphere have now disappeared, which ones are left then?

The importance of LGBT*IQ networks

Simple games can replace micro-encounters

How do we manage to replace the daily micro-encounters and interactions that connect us with our environment in the current situation and as a community? How can we make members of the community feel that they are still being seen and their needs are being addressed? How can we find substitutes for a lovely chit-chat at the coffee machine, the casual exchange at the microwave in the tea kitchen or the cigarette break with other team members?

From my point of view, the LGBT*IQ networks play an important role in these times. In contrast to the disappearance of private social life, as an employee, I am still in a social system. The connection to a peer group, e.g. an LGBT*IQ community (but also any other community) is relatively easy and low-threshold. We need them, the LGBT*IQ Safe Spaces in the workplace. Now more than ever. Because — here too I would like to quote Stefan Simons — “Safe spaces are extremely good at reducing suffering […]. What they are not good at is dissolving existing structures of inequality, questioning them, and making entrenched identity constructions more variable, flexible, and fluid again. They can therefore not contribute to a really fair society, but they can reduce the existing suffering.”

How digital tools and games can help us to stay connected

And this last point is what I want to address. I am a big believer in modern community work. It is largely based on the use of digital tools, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom or social media. They can help us in this tricky situation. For example, people who feel lonely tend to counterintuitively avoid meeting other people, especially if many new faces are to be expected. Community meetings via Zoom etc. are a good thing to do with a large group, but they do not replace a more intimate conversation between two people. Hence the request to all of you who read this: invite your colleagues to virtual business lunches and coffee breaks. They may not dare to ask you out of an unconscious fear of stigma or maybe just shyness. Keep in touch with them. Your fellow human being will thank you.

Safe Spaces for the LBGT*IQ community

There is another fun approach to keep in touch with people we do not see or talk to every day. Often, even micro-interactions are enough for us to still feel that we belong and that we have not been forgotten. How about with an asynchronous, turn-based game on the smartphone, such as a quiz duel or Scrabble, to name just two. Good thing is, they are perfect for a party with grandpa or godmother, too. Such social games create a bond with family and friends through the game itself.

This commitment, in turn, is an immense lever to show interest and maintain personal ties. It is not without reason that the games industry is booming right now. Even the WHO recommends that we should play with each other. And so, it is hardly a surprise that, according to a report by the German game association in mid-August 2020, 28% of gamers stated that playing games helped them get through the lockdown.

Gratitude and Kindness

Science offers us another insight. Two main things can help us to reduce the suffering we feel and that make us happy: gratitude and kindness. Both are states, you can hardly directly or forcefully attain. They do not come in when we want to rush towards them with a roar. They arise as by-products when we are actually “busy” with something else. They sneak into our lives and we often only notice them when we consciously look for them.

That said: stay connected, stay grateful and friendly and, above all, stay in contact with all your loved ones, may it be LGBT*IQ or straight folks. 😉

Claudia Feiner is Project Manager Esports Community and Founder of Proud@Porsche.

About this publication: Where innovation meets tradition. There’s more to Porsche than sports cars — we’re tackling new challenges, develop digital products and think digital with a focus on the customer. On our Medium blog, we tell these stories. It’s about our #nextvisions, smart technologies and the people that drive our digital journey. Please follow us on Twitter (Porsche Digital, Next Visions), Instagram (Porsche Digital, Next Visions, Porsche Newsroom) and LinkedIn (Porsche AG, Porsche Digital) for more.

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Next Level German Engineering: Where innovation meets tradition. The Porsche technology hub to create tomorrow.

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