Gabriela Enamorado/Staff Writer
With June just around the corner, we’re reminded that many Pride month events have been canceled due to the current pandemic. Sadly, this isn’t the only way the virus has affected the LGBT community.
For many queer college students, school was an escape from unaccepting families. Once universities shut down because of the virus, many were sent back to unsupportive, potentially unsafe homes. Some even find themselves homeless. We must not forget about them during these difficult times.
Young college students may have lower infection rates than older people from the coronavirus, but queer individuals are the ones who suffer the consequences that come with being forced to stay at home. 26% of LGBT youth are kicked out of their homes when they come out to their parents.
LGBT students are being forced back into dangerous home lives while also facing a decrease in positive social interactions. It’s already so hard being marginalized for your sexuality or gender identity when there isn’t a pandemic going on. Being away from friends who validate you can cause even more uncertainty.
Chosen families are huge in the queer community. Being without the people who supported and comforted you when your own family couldn’t, only to be constantly surrounded by negativity, can no doubt have an effect on a person’s mental health. Studies show that queer people are six times more likely to develop depression if in an unsupportive environment.
Being a part of the community myself, I know what it’s like to feel isolated in my own home. My family loves me, but the topic of my sexuality makes them uncomfortable and defensive. It has even caused some arguments. This is much tamer than what many others are going through, but I still understand the feeling of being the “other” in the family. That’s why I don’t want anyone else to feel alone.
Today more than ever, everyone should check in on their LGBT friends and see how they are doing. If they are in a bad situation, reach out to them, and provide any resources you can. Being without support is hard, but validating your queer friend’s emotions and letting them know they are not alone can help tremendously. Sometimes all someone needs is a listening ear.
FIU offers some resources that hopefully might ease any feelings of isolation my fellow LGBT Panthers have. One is the LGBTQIA+ initiatives in the Multicultural Programs and Services Office. They provide mentorships for queer students and organize awareness events. They are currently operating remotely and holding virtual events.
If you need some support outside of FIU, Pridelines offer a safe environment for LGBT individuals and resources like cyber centers, food, evening programs and referrals for anyone experiencing abuse. There’s also Lotus House, which has a program called Rainbow Lotus that provides shelter and other forms of help for homeless LGBT people.
This pandemic is affecting everyone, but some of the most severe impacts will come from marginalized communities. Let’s make sure we are all lending a helping hand if we can. We have to make sure we are taking care of each other.
Featured image by DWP Digital on Flickr.
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