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Coronavirus: How It Is Affecting Our Friends In Greece

The COVID-19 pandemic is not news anymore: it has become part of our everyday life, changing what we considered to be ‘normal’. People all around the world are feeling the effects of its rapid spread and we are all united in this fight with an invisible enemy. But at the same time, each country has been affected on a different scale, with some counting their dead by the thousands like the United Kingdom counting 30,076 deaths, while others have managed to keep the deadly effects of the coronavirus more compact, like Germany, which counts 7,275 deaths. 

It has become clear that COVID-19’s effects will not stop right after we find a way to protect people from dying from it all around the world. Its effects will follow us for the years to come, hopefully changing our perception, our sense of unity and, definitely, our economies.

Greece has been a country which in the past years has learnt a thing or two about economic crisis. After 10 years of struggling to find a way for the country’s wounded economic status to stabilise, the COVID-19 pandemic is going to make things worse again, before they become better. Already lots of people have lost their job (the International Monetary Fund forecasting an unemployment rate of 22.3% in 2020) or have received financial help from the government but for how long? It is the uncertainty that is frustrating lots of people, knowing that there is no one person to blame and not one person to expect answers from concerning the future. No one knows.

We had a talk with Yorgos Tsamis who is experiencing life in the time of the coronavirus from Athens, Greece.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I’m an artist-educator, actor, and activist. I love smelling flowers and dreaming under the trees. My favourite destination is somewhere in the stratosphere. 

This global pandemic is affecting everyone around the world. How would you say it is affecting Greece?

Sociopolitically, it creates a sense of fear. This pandemic exposes how the system works. There is confusion all over. The inability of the government to empathise with the citizens is shown. Everything has changed so quickly. What about the future? The Greek government passed reform bills during the quarantine period that will affect our life in many ways. In a period when citizens couldn't react, the government decided to pass anachronistic bills about the educational and healthcare system, as well as the environment. I feel like instead of moving forward we go backward somehow and that's scary. What's next?

How do you foresee the near future? Do you think the Greek community will go back to normal soon?

Normal was the problem. I think we need to rethink normal. Redefine our traditions, habits, and daily routines. Re-connect with nature. 

Do you see this tragedy as an opportunity for Greek people to get something good out of it? If yes, could you give us some examples?

Isolation helps us to introspect and then retrospect somehow. This lockdown can be an opportunity to revaluate our relation with animals for instance, there are so many that experience a lifetime lockdown, like those who are imprisoned in zoos. As for humans, I think it is also a self-exploration process to find out what is meaningful and what is given as a constructed need. 


Have you come across any inspiring stories as small evidence that there is some good to come out of this?

Every day I scroll-down on my phone and come across so many different little bright stories. The last one was from a young queer group in Athens that created a collective called ‘To Moirasma’ which translates to ‘Sharing’, in order to help the homeless by providing them with food. Despite the lockdown, this group goes out every day and give warmth to those who are in need. 

Have you witnessed a specific reaction from the LGBT+ community in Greece during this pandemic? 

The LGBTQ+ community always reflects a colourful rainbow in society, even in the darkest times. This pandemic brings us closer and makes us stronger as a community. Together we achieve more. 

What would your advice be for LGBT+ people who are feeling isolated at this time? 

I hate giving advice, but I can share some thoughts with you. Social distancing and isolation can be really hard to deal with. It is important to stay connected, so what I would suggest is to call your loved ones. Embracing all the feelings that this experience gives us is therapeutic. We can manage our anxiety by using art as a tool. Be creative, sing loud in your shower concert, paint a masterpiece on your house walls, perform your craziest idea on zoom, learn something new, take yourself to the living room for dinner, and watch your favourite cartoon on Netflix. And when this ends go to nature and liberate yourself from the city madness. 

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