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BLOG: 'Supporting and connecting our LGBT+ community at Queen's during Lockdown'

"As Co-Chairs of PRISM LGBT+ Staff Network at Queen’s, we have been reflecting on the challenges faced by LGBT people during the COVID-19 pandemic and looking at ways to help."

Belfast Pride 2019

A blog by Sally Bridge (Borrower Services Librarian) and Richard Robinson (Head of Accommodation), Co-Chairs of the PRISM LGBT+ Staff Network 

  

As Co-Chairs of PRISM LGBT+Staff Network at Queen’s, we have been reflecting on the challenges faced by LGBT+ people during the COVID-19 pandemic and looking at ways to help.

The Stonewall LGBT in Britain - Health Report has shown that LGBT people are at greater risk of marginalisation during crises, and that those with multiple marginalised identities can struggle even more.

While lockdown is, of course, impacting on all within society, social isolation can have an even greater impact on some LGBT people due to their circumstances and experiences. For example, colleagues who are not out in the workplace may find working from home more difficult – as work calls and video conferencing brings work into a place where they have perhaps always been open about who they are and where they may live with a partner.

LGBT people – particularly older LGBT people – are more likely to have strained relationships with their family or to be estranged from them, and the stress and loneliness resulting from being cut off from social interaction in the workplace and with friends at this time may, of course, be even more difficult for those in this situation.

Similarly, some younger members of the LGBT community may also face particular difficulties at this time if they are staying at home in a family or living environment in which they do not feel accepted or embraced for whom they are. This means it is now especially important for parents and carers to offer all the help, understanding and support they can to vulnerable LGBT young people.

With all of this in mind, we, as a staff network, are working hard to find new ways and opportunities to come together as an LGBT community to show each other solidarity and support, and have been continuing to meet to plan and deliver a range of social activities to bring staff together during this time.

These include:

  • Regular ‘Bring Your Own Lunch’ meet ups via Microsoft Teams
  • Virtual Bingo night
  • Virtual Pub Quiz
  • Virtual movie night

You can find out more about upcoming events and activities, including details of how to join the Network, on our website.

We want all of our LGBT+ colleagues at Queen’s to know that you’re not on your own. Please do reach out and get involved in some of our activities – we are a friendly bunch and are always delighted to welcome new members!

In case you (or, indeed, someone you know) have been affected by any of the issues we have touched on here, we have provided a helpful list of external resources below.

 

RESOURCES:

  • The Rainbow Project: a health organisation that works to improve the physical, mental and emotional health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people in Northern Ireland. Key support includes co-cultural LGBT affirmed counselling and family support for parents/carers of an LGBT child.
  • HEReNI: a community organisation working to support lesbian and bisexual women and families across Northern Ireland. Key support includes one to one online support and family group for LGBT families.
  • TransgenderNI: are a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of trans people across Northern Ireland. Key support includes individual support, advice and advocacy for trans people.
  • Cara-Friend: a charity working towards a better Northern Ireland for LGBTQ+ people, which celebrates diversity and inclusion. Key support includes providing help and support to young people who are LGBT+.