Pride in Unprecedented Times
Jun 23, 2020
By Contributing Editor: Anna Burns
Community Educator, Triangle Community Center
(Top image features youth members of Triangle Community Center)
June is LGBTQ Pride Month. While our annual expectations of gleefully wading through a rainbow-clad crowd at in-person festivities may be momentarily on hold, Pride and all that it stands for is very much still here!
The spirit of Pride can be defined by the overarching goal to empower the LGBTQ community with dignity, visibility, self-affirmation and hope. Pride is about moving towards equality, acceptance and the right to live openly and authentically as an LGBTQ person without the debilitating burden of oppression, marginalization, shame and stigma.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a national movement dedicated to dismantling racial injustices, and several landmark rulings by the federal government regarding LGBTQ rights, this year’s Pride arrives at a pivotal moment in our history.
Let us use this spotlight during Pride to shine a light on how the LGBTQ community is faring, uniting, mourning and celebrating within such challenging times and through unprecedented efforts to combat prejudism, discrimination and racism.
COVID-19 & The LGBTQ Community
Communities across the world have felt the impact of COVID-19, and the LGBTQ community is no exception as they face unique challenges and widespread ramifications. Even in the best of times, the LGBTQ community is disproportionately vulnerable to poverty, unemployment, under-employment, homelessness, housing insecurity and food insecurity.
Furthermore, LGBTQ Americans are less likely to have access to adequate and affirming health care, are more likely to be uninsured or under-insured, and also have high rates of chronic illness. All of these factors mean that the impact of COVID-19 have been amplified for LGBTQ people.
Thanks to our partnership with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, Triangle Community Center (TCC) is able to support LGBTQ folks across Fairfield County through this challenging time. Demand for our services has increased as a result of COVID-19, and with emergency funding from FCCF we have been able to meet the needs of all our clients. Not only are we continuing to offer all of our existing programs and services virtually, but we have actually increased our programming to meet this heightened demand and ensure all of our clients have frequent and ongoing support with TCC.
We have been able to offer our mental health counseling services completely free of charge to both English and Spanish speakers, increase our case management services, and continue with nutritional support and housing navigation for those struggling with food insecurity and homelessness.
As a new client recently told me: “Knowing that a community center like TCC is available for people like me in Fairfield County at a time of great need is a miracle. The services provided have really helped me in this time of great stress.”
Racial Justice & The LGBTQ Community
The intersection between racial justice and LGBTQ rights cannot be overstated. The leaders, organizers and activists who have led and continue to pave the way for legal rights and social justice in this country are Black LGBTQ folks, from Audre Lorde and Marsha P. Johnson, to Sonya Renee Taylor, Ericka Hart and so many more. This Pride, let us reflect upon and show gratitude for the Black LGBTQ people who have been at the frontlines of the equality movement for more than 50 years.
Let us also grieve the Black transgender people we have lost recently including Tony McDade, Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells. The voices of people of color within the LGBTQ community must be amplified, centered, heard and believed in order to create meaningful change.
Federal Rulings on LGBTQ Discrimination Policies
In recent weeks we have seen several major rulings by the federal government, both inspiring and heartbreaking, regarding nondiscrimination policies for LGBTQ people.
In the lead-up to Pride, the U.S. Department of Education ruled that Connecticut’s policy allowing transgender girls to play on a girls sports team is in violation of Title IX. This undermines the identity and dignity of student athletes who simply want to live as their authentic selves and participate in their sport.
Following this, the Department of Health and Human Services introduced a new rule on June 12, 2020 that will negatively impact transgender and nonbinary patients’ ability to fight against discrimination by doctors, medical facilities, and health insurance providers. This, particularly in the context of the current global health crisis, is a dangerous and cruel statement that directly attacks the LGBTQ community.
Just days later, however, in a momentous victory for the LGBTQ community, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act protecting against sex discrimination in the workplace, includes the protection of LGBTQ workers, barring them from being discriminated against based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a beacon of hope and a promise for a better tomorrow that should inspire us to see that Pride is powerful and change is possible.
Supporting the LGBTQ Community Through Pride Month & Beyond
We were able to host one of the nation’s first Virtual Pride Weeks at the beginning of June, which offered folks an important opportunity to celebrate the LGBTQ community.
This Pride we have visited both familiar and uncharted territory, and done so with strength, unity, support and determination to protect and empower LGBTQ people. We have seen the community take on familiar layered, systemic and systematic injustices all while facing the unique consequences of a global pandemic.
We are in this together as a community of LGBTQ people, friends, family and allies. We stand in solidarity with all vulnerable populations and marginalized groups who are struggling. Triangle Community Center continues to work to bring about positive change, not just during Pride Month, but all year round.
Pronouns: she/her/hers and they/them/theirs
Triangle Community Center
Anna earned her MSc in Psychology of Mental Health and her MA in Social Anthropology, both from The University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Before joining the team at TCC, Anna served as a trainer and leader at multiple suicide prevention hotlines both in The United Kingdom and the United States, with a focus on serving LGBTQ young people. As TCC’s Community Educator, Anna is responsible for engaging with the wider community to provide tailored educational and professional development surrounding LGBTQ cultural competency. Thanks to a generous grant from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, Anna is also part of the Sexual Violence Prevention Collaborative of Fairfield County, providing interactive workshops on sexual violence prevention for schools and teams with their inaugural project, Coaches As Partners.