Many of our communities have been left feeling disconnected during the pandemic, the LGBTQ+ community feeling this particularly hard. As a young LGBTQ+ person, a queer space/venue is often the first experience of feeling entirely validated by a group of like-minded people, along with helping form a sense of self and line of discovery. Without this initial safe-space, young queers may find themselves isolated from peers, leaving them to deal with the hurdles of discovering ones sexuality alone, or with a limited support group.
Laia Becares, senior lecturer in applied social science at the University of Sussex, summarised queer spaces in an interview with the Metro newspaper: ‘They also affirm our identities, and provide opportunities for connection.’ The key word here being ‘affirm’: to declare, to nurture, to defend. These are attributes every LGBTQ+ person needs around them, especially those who are young or vulnerable.
Becares was also involved in the Queerantine study, a project detailing the affects of the pandemic on queer people. It was reported that younger LGBTQ+ people (18-24) suffered most with their mental health. 46.8% of this group reported that they ‘felt they were unable to control the important things in life fairly often.’ Co-lead author on the project, Dr Dylan Kneale (UCL) remarked this high number may be because ‘younger LGBTQ+ people are more likely to have lived through lockdown with people who are not aware or not supportive of their sexual orientation or gender identity.’.
Most affected are those who are forced to hide their identity at home from family or housemates. An interviewee of the Metro, Blythe White, remarked of LGBTQ+ venues that ‘these may have been the only places where they could be themselves and, with them gone, the pandemic has meant over a year of bottling up who you are.’. This act in itself can cause immense trauma and anxiety surrounding self-worth and self-image.
Many queer spaces have adapted by going online.
Trevor Space (https://www.trevorspace.org/) is a platform for young LGBTQ+ people aged 13-24 to chat, discuss topics and support each other.
Facebook and Twitter have become great resources for LGBTQ+ people looking to join groups/make connections during the pandemic. Try searching LGBT followed by your area to see the results.
Club quarantine, an online LGBTQ+ nightclub, hosts zoom club nights with international DJs. The events are free (with optional donation) and are attended by queer people from around the world (with the option to turn on your camera if you want to showcase your dance moves!).
*Not recommended for those under 18*
Stonewall - https://www.stonewall.org.uk/lgbt-britain-health
More useful links:
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health condition and feels as if they need LGBTQ+ specific support, please contact any of the charities below.
Stonewall UK - https://www.stonewall.org.uk/
Switchboard - https://www.switchboard.org.uk/