BeLonG To and various other LGBT+ organisations in Ireland and the UK are reaching out to queer youth while the coronavirus induced lockdown continues. They’re waving their rainbow flags in solidarity with LGBT+ children and young people who may be living in homes which are not accepting of their queer identities.
“Whilst the world adjusts to this new way of life, we want to remind you that we are still here for you, your community, giving strength and connections, offering events such as digital youth Prides, digital LGBT+ youth groups and one-to-one support,” they said.
This announcement comes shortly after a UK charity advised LGBT+ young people to “hit pause” on coming out while the coronavirus pandemic continues.
The Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) helps young LGBT+ people facing homelessness. Their CEO has asked people to think hard before coming out. Tim Sigsworth expressed concern for how family members could react. “You can’t predict at these completely unprecedented times how your parents will react. They, like you, are under a lot of stress and they may not react in a positive way.”
He went on to explain how this situation has heightened emotions and how it’s a particularly dangerous time to be made homeless. “We’re all being told to self-isolate, so being on the streets, it has to be the most dangerous place for a vulnerable young person at the moment,” Sigsworth said.
Thankfully, there are plenty of LGBT+ groups out there which are working hard to help queer youth. In the Republic of Ireland, there’s BeLonG To Youth Services, BreakOut, and ChillOUT LGBTI+ youth group, while people in Northern Ireland can reach out to Cara-Friend.
The statement from the list of youth groups acknowledges how uncomfortable and unsettling it can be to be living in a space where you can’t be out.
“Some of you may have had to move back home from university, some of you will not be in school which may have been your escape and some of you will not be out and just beginning to explore who you are, but not feeling sure where to turn. This is, of course, going to add to the anxiety and isolation that you may already be experiencing,” they said.
According to AKT, more than three quarters of LGBT+ homeless people say the primary reason they are homeless is due to their family rejecting them. LGBT+ youth are advised to reach out to these organisations to keep connected with people who acknowledge and respect their identity.
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