Queer in Quarantine: Phoebe & Morgan

Queer in Quarantine: Phoebe & Morgan

A conversation with Phoebe & Morgan May, as told to Universal Standard


Universal Standard: What is your name, your pronouns, and how do you identify?

PHOEBE: Phoebe, they/them, and I am a nonbinary lesbian.

MORGAN: Morgan, she/her, a dramatic bisexual woman.

US: As we collectively transition out of quarantine, this time in solitude has been much more than just staying in. What do you consider your greatest challenge existing as an LGBTQ+ person while in quarantine? What has been your greatest victory?

P: Gender expression in general. I’ve always heard “only wear a binder out, don’t wear it at home” but what if you’re always home? I had to get comfortable seeing my body in lounge clothes all the time, and figuring out how to find gender euphoria even in those circumstances. 

I would say that my greatest victory as a queer person during quarantine was just making it through. Morgan and I were on furlough from working at Disney World, so it was four months of having absolutely nothing to do but worry about Florida unemployment and when I could hug my dad again.

M: I would say that my greatest challenge was planning a queer wedding while in quarantine and being unable to check the vibe of any of our vendors. I fully had to depend on their email response to my question, “Are you LGBTQ+ affirming?” versus seeing their response in person as I asked that question. My greatest victory was falling back in love with hobbies that I hadn’t done since I was a kid. 

US: Every LGBTQ+ person knows that coming out is not a singular, linear process, but rather something we are faced with nearly every day. How do you relate to the phrase “coming out” in your journey as an LGBTQ+ person?

P: I came out publicly my senior year of high school as bisexual, and when I was 20 as nonbinary, and now at 24, I’m very comfortable identifying as a lesbian. Coming out is constant, so I’m always coming out in little ways to every person in my life.

M: Unfortunately, like so many other queer folks, coming out to my parents was not exactly a peaceful or affirming conversation. But, because there are so many people who share that story, I know that I’m not alone and I know the value of a chosen family. I didn’t come out publicly until I was 23, which feels late compared to the age I was when I knew that I was queer.

US: How do you connect your identity as an LGBTQ+ person to your personal style and presentation of self?

P: I LOVE looking queer. Little tell-tale signs of being LGBTQ are all over every outfit I wear. Cuffed pants, carabiner, goofy polos, two pairs of Universal Standard overalls (that I wear at every possible moment), and clunky boots. I love feeling comfy and cute in my queerness and then getting noticed by other queer folks. That moment of hearing “I love your hair!” or “I love your pants!” is just the best feeling.

M: I had a hard time really nailing my own personal style post-coming out because I felt like the things that I liked were too feminine and that nobody would clock me as queer. Now, as an adult, I know that 1. I am queer no matter what I’m wearing, and 2. Clothing is about expression, and if I would like to express myself as a pink clown because it brings me joy, there is nothing stopping me from doing that.

from staying in to coming out

US: Expression of self is a deeply personal experience, and one that is often connected with personal style. How do you connect your identity as an LGBTQ+ person to your personal style? How would you describe your style? 

P: I would say that I’m a soft butch nonbinary lesbian, and I think that’s exactly how I would describe my style.

M: I am a very feminine bisexual woman who took a while to learn how to love being feminine despite being both queer and plus-sized. The three aesthetics that almost all of my outfits fall into are as follows: Woman Who Might Own Dog, Autumn, and Pink Clown.

US: The campaign name From Staying In to Coming Out holds a double meaning for many LGBTQ+ people experiencing this time of quarantine. What are you most looking forward to as things transition and you reintegrate yourself back into the world?

P: Honestly, just worrying about impending doom much less. Morg and I are both fully vaccinated now, so things are starting to feel much less doom-y. I’m also very excited to check out the drag scene in our new city.  

M: Singing karaoke covered in sweat and glitter with a new best friend that I just made four minutes before the song started. Somehow I have only spent $15 on drinks, and yet I am giggly as a giggly little mouse.

US: Look back on the beginning of quarantine… What would you say has changed the most in your life from then until now?

P: It would be easier to say what has stayed the same! We’re 3,000 miles away from where we lived, we’re crying 95% less, and we’re getting 200% more hugs from my parents. I also just feel like now we know each other, and ourselves, much better.

M: Well, we moved across the country and our life is on a completely different path than the one that we thought that we’d be on. But now, we are close to paying off a wedding, working jobs we both love, and are much closer to our chosen family. 

US: Quarantining as a couple is a whole new level of discoveries, challenges, and victories. What is the most unexpected joy you’ve experienced together while in quarantine?

P: Definitely our newfound friends on the internet. Morgan and I have always pretty heavily documented aspects of our relationship, but sharing that with folks on TikTok and receiving such a warm response has been incredible. If you asked me in January 2020 what I thought would happen in a year and a half, growing a following of 170,000 on TikTok, having a podcast, and being interviewed by folks at a wonderful clothing company that we love would not have been in my top five hundred guesses.

M: I think the most clear cut answer that I can give is TikTok. Not only did creators on the app give us hope, joy, and support, but we accidentally managed to build a community of followers who love our goofy antics and who share their kindness with us. 

Continue to celebrate Pride with US and read the next From Staying In to Coming Out story with Rivkah Reyes.