Helping The LGBTQ+ Community During The COVID-19 Pandemic
While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, people in the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to lack the resources needed to thrive or even survive during this uncertain time. We are often employed by companies that do not offer paid sick leave or health care coverage during a furlough. LGBTQ+ youth could be sheltering in place with family members who provide rejection and judgement instead of support. LGBTQ+ older adults are three times more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to live alone, and isolation often leads to poor mental health. People living with HIV might be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus depending on their viral loads. Our community is also more likely to face disturbing rates of health care discrimination when we do seek medical care.
CenterLink joined the National LGBT Cancer Network, Human Rights Campaign, and 100 other LGBTQ+ organizations in writing an open letter that lists the reasons LGBTQ+ people should be taking extra precautions to avoid becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus.
LGBTQ+ centers across the country have seen an increase in demand for services, and have stepped up to help their communities despite having to cancel or postpone fundraising events, resulting in a substantial loss of income. They're providing services like quickly transitioning from in-person meetings to virtual support groups and tele-therapy, HIV testing, case management, delivering hot meals to LGBTQ+ older adults, HIV and STI testing, assisting their employees with obtaining relief benefits, distributing canned goods and hygiene products to those who cannot find them in stores with empty shelves, updating their computer software to ensure best practices are being utilized when working with clients, and offering their spaces as emergency shelters for homeless youth. Our LGBTQ+ community centers continue to give back amid the challenges, just like they always have.
- Find your local LGBTQ+ community center and offer a donation or support.
- Complete the 2020 Census. It has never been easier to respond on your own - whether online, over the phone or by mail - without having to meet with a census taker. The information collected will be used in a number of ways including planning and funding health care programs that provide services for LGBTQ+ families.
- Register to vote. The LGBTQ+ community includes people from all racial, ethnic, gender, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds. That means we are uniquely positioned to improve voter turnout and ensure our lawmakers support quality health care for ALL Americans.
- If you're crafty, consider making masks for health care workers. Contact your local LGBTQ+-friendly clinic, hospital or health department to see where you can distribute them. Here's a link to the pattern for an Olsen Mask. These are not designed to replace personal protective equipment (PPE), but are being offered as an alternative in places where PPE is not readily available.
- Connect with an LGBTQ+ elder. LGBTQ+ elders living with HIV and residing in rural communities are at a greater risk for the negative impacts of isolation. Call your LGBTQ+ community center and let them know you're available to assist with phone check-ins or hot meal deliveries.
Together we CAN make a difference.