Everything changed when the lockdown was introduced. Life continued as we adapted to staying indoors. Through windows; we viewed empty streets.  Advertising changed, News programming was viewed with eagle eyes and the ones we loved squeezed into blurry squares on a computer screen.

At the start of Lockdown, I cherished the chance for rest. I had worked multiple lengthy shifts days before the lockdown, attended the cinema too- only for it to close the very next day. People were already wearing face coverings, a preview of the times ahead.  Suddenly this virus from the other side of the world was affecting our lives. 

The news stations are blaming us; say it was a Gay Related immune deficiency. A disease that is spread through Gay men. News outlets broadcast headlines about how deadly AIDS is. We have seen already the cost of human life. The world cares now that it threatens their lives, too.  Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is it's official name. My partner Jen has begun volunteering for a support hotline, I am  volunteering at the hospital.

The first week felt like a break; a much needed rest. While outside an invisible killer prowled taking the vulnerable in its wake. The safest thing to do was to avoid any contact with people from other houses, listen to every expert, absorb every figure as it is presented. This is the price of our ignorance, the penance for our mocking. I will admit, at first I too spoke the words "More people have died from the flu."

It took the government six years to try to stop the spread of this illness. They dragged their feet. They were in denial: It was ok when it was just killing homosexuals. The man who lived in the flat below died last week; he killed himself. I had seen him a day or two before using a walking stick, thin and tired- he couldn't have been much older than 25.

Over the coming weeks, I found myself living by a schedule. I'd set tasks to be completed within the week: the only trouble was that I was completing them in days. I didn't want to waste this time so I made sure to fill every moment with writing or baking. After a fortnight and 3 completed lists; I  began to pace myself. This may go on for months. Meanwhile the daily death toll was rising and the Prime minister was taken into intensive care.

There were two categories of people who contracted AIDS. First were the ones who 'deserved' it, a death sentence for committing the sinful act of homosexuality. The others  were people who caught it from a blood transfusion or heterosexual women who caught it from sleeping with their infected husbands, in the media these were the victims. I've watched two men die already this week, it's barely midweek. Numerous others from the Lesbian community are helping us but unfortunately it isn't enough. The death toll is overwhelming.

Artists, budding authors, filmmakers and poets thrived. Locked away in their lofts, flat shares and bedrooms. The Lockdown meant they could express themselves without fear of financial wreckage. In the midst of a pandemic: artists painted rainbows, photographers captured the great indoors, writers and poets documented the world from inside and musicians performed to an empty audience. Hastily the government are trying to revive the economical cost of the virus.

 On weekends I dedicate time to campaigning, most evenings are spent at the hosptial. We are in crisis but bills need to be paid.  The government won't risk the future of the economy on the lives of a few thousand homosexuals. 

I couldn't wait any longer. The final dregs of my shampoo had run out, washing your hair with a bar of soap is unpleasant.  To browse in a shop was no longer acceptable: it is expected of you to know what you need upon entry. There is no room for a flimsy window shopper in this world. Shopping has become an unnerving and apologetic experience. I keep my head down as I walk through the aisles. After my speedy shop in the smouldering heat; my arms and legs ache. This is a familiar sting, similar to walking up and down stairs at the Arena. However my inactivity during the Lockdown means my body has forgotten. Walking to the fridge is not an accurate simulation for speed walking on throbbing feet from row to row after a crowded concert.

My productivity wavers. I have baked enough cakes and biscuits to feed an entire street. My task lists are becoming copies of one another. I decide to change my indoor environment. I paint the walls, remove  old posters and introduce not only a new skill but a new lease of life to my tired surroundings.

 It's hard to distinguish who has it. Passionate touching and kissing is no longer safe. This virus is destroying the young and the fit. At the hospital, I see men, skeletal and delusional. Men in their 20s and 30s being left to rot in soiled clothing, no appetite or will to live as it consumes them. For free we are doing the work that the staff should be - but aren't. They remain blind to the suffering. An entire generation is dying snd no one cares.

People are still dying but the numbers are decreasing. Things are slowly taking the form of a new normal.  News programmes provide updates, stories from survivors . However you choose to look at it; Covid-19 is history in the making. One day these will be the accounts that people will turn to to learn of the time when the world stayed indoors.

We remain indoors as courtesy to protect our elderly. 

Dana Archer

Dana is a Film critic and analyst , her interest is in horror films and those of a psychological nature. She is a member of a number of LGBTQ+ groups in Birmingham. Dana is also a writer and believes that the arts has a power to influence and open minds.

Dana says, about the piece…

“My thought process behind this piece was to address the contrast in how the current Covid-19 pandemic links to the AIDS crisis. I wanted to explore the differences in response to the patient's care as well as the global response to each virus.”