Each year, June is nationally recognized as LGBTQ Pride Month and while it serves as a time of celebration for continued acceptance and the accomplishments of the LGBTQ community, it also serves to commemorate years of struggle for civil rights and the ongoing pursuit of equal justice under the law for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.
We would like to leverage this nationally recognized month to acknowledge the unique struggles that this underrepresented and underserved community faces, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which is impacting the LGBTQ community at a disproportionate rate.
While the organized pursuit of gay rights in the United States reaches back to at least 1924 and the founding of the Society of Human Rights, the event that catalyzed the gay rights movement came in June 1969 in New York City’s Greenwich Village, at the Stonewall Inn (Read more here). However, it was not until 25 years later in 1994 that the first NC Pride Festival and Parade was held here in Charlotte, seeing just under 4,000 attendees coming out to show support; by 2017, more than 150,000 people from across the country would make their way to Charlotte to join in the various programs, festival activities, and Sunday parade that Charlotte Pride had become famous for (PFLAG Charlotte). The celebration has only grown yearly ever since.
Fast forward to this year- the annual Charlotte Pride Parade as well as all Charlotte Black Pride Festivities have been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while cancelled plans and events are a consequence almost everyone around our globe is facing, the LGBTQ community is a vulnerable group when it comes to the implications the pandemic has had on daily life.
The degree that individuals within the LGBTQ community’s safety, health, and well-being is affected by the current health crisis is not only immense, but many believe it has also been severely neglected. In this article published by them.us, Drexel University’s Randall Sell, an expert in LGBTQ+ demographic study emphasized “You can’t address a problem you can’t see. It could be wiping out whole communities and we don’t know” in reference to the lack of attention being paid to the direct impact on the LGBTQ community.
Though some individuals within the LGBTQ community are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, stigma and discrimination can deter them from seeking medical care, even when they do have health insurance. One in four LGBTQ individuals reported experiencing discrimination when seeking health care, according to a national survey by the Center for American Progress, a policy research organization in Washington, D.C. (USA Today).
Beyond the concern of greater risk to physical health, there is also reason for concern of a greater risk to LGBTQ individuals’ mental health, particularly in youth and young adults, as well.
Even prior to the pandemic, LGBTQ youth have been found to be at significant increased risk for depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicide. These risks are even more pronounced among youth who are transgender and/or nonbinary. Therefore, LGBTQ youth may be particularly vulnerable to negative mental health impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic according to The Trevor Project.
The GOOD News? Through such uncertain times in our world, we are grateful to know that there are local organizations working hard everyday to support and serve the LGBTQ community in Charlotte. Amid the current crisis we have seen these organizations go above and beyond to adapt their services and continue showing up for our LGBTQ neighbors. Learn more below about our nonprofit partners that serve our local LGBTQ community and how you can support their work.
Beyond donating time or money to one of the following local organizations, one way you can support the LGBTQ community 365 is to be an ally. Not sure what that looks like or want to be sure you are being the best ally possible? Check out these resources provided by Straight for Equality.
You can also check out this list of terms to be sure you are “equality-fluent” when speaking about or expressing support for LGBTQ related issues.
PFLAG Charlotte, founded in 1987, is a chapter of PFLAG National. For more than thirty years, this organization has been saving LGBTQ lives, strengthening families, and empowering LGBTQ individuals and allies through support, education, and advocacy. PFLAG Charlotte offers virtual and in person peer support group meetings, one-to-one peer support, workshops for parents, and family connection events. Learn more here and vote here for PFLAG Charlotte to win $5K!
Founded in 2001, Campus Pride calls Charlotte home and is the only national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) youth organization based in the South. Campus Pride believes strongly in investing in its local community and shaping LGBTQ advocacy locally for youth. In addition, nationally the organization has worked to improve the LGBTQ safety and campus climate at 1400+ campuses. Learn more here and vote here for Campus Pride to win $5K!
Equality North Carolina is the largest advocacy group and political lobbying organization in North Carolina focused on LGBTQ rights and the liberation of marginalized folks. With a 40 year history, ENC is the oldest statewide organization in America dedicated to LGBTQ rights. Learn more here and vote here for Equality North Carolina to win $5K!
Through artistic achievement, education, and engagement, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte endeavors to create a society which values and respects its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members. Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte makes a difference through courageous leadership, social justice work around LGBTQ+ issues, and tireless efforts to build community and inclusiveness. Learn more here and vote here for Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte to win $5K!
Time Out Youth offers support, advocacy, and opportunities for personal development and social interaction to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 11 – 20. They provide a safe environment for LGBTQ youth and their allies by fostering interaction, learning and affirmation. Time Out Youth offers discussion/support groups and a safe space for LGBTQ youth Monday-Friday as well as shelter and support for homeless LGBTQ youth through their Host Home and Emergency Financial Assistance Programs. Learn more here and vote here for Time Out Youth to win $5K!
The Freedom Center for Social Justice is committed to the growth, safety and empowerment of the LGBTQ community. Their mission is accomplished through education, programs, partnerships, and advocacy. They serve with care, compassion and celebration. Learn more here and vote here for The Freedom Center for Social Justice to win $5K!
RAIN empowers persons living with HIV and those at risk to be healthy and stigma free. RAIN integrates the wisdom and voices of those infected with HIV in the planning and delivery of their services and as a result of their work, they inspire and empower more people to live, open more minds, and help break the stigma of HIV and AIDS regionally, nationally, and internationally. Learn more here and vote here for RAIN,Inc. to win $5K!