The strength of community and looking ahead

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COVID-19 is changing the way we interact with the world and one another. While PGN remains open and able to report on news relevant to the LGBTQ community, other businesses are closing. Many of our community members are suffering from lost wages. Those who are homeless are incredibly exposed and are now seeing LGBT centers close, offering less and less respite from the world at large. Our seniors — those folks at the John C. Anderson Apartments and elsewhere — should be at the front of our minds, as should those in our community who live with certain disabilities and chronic illnesses. Trans folks who are actively taking hormone therapy may have a harder time getting prescriptions, especially if LGBTQ-specific health clinics close — and Mazzoni has for the time being. Folks of color who are subject to systemic racism daily, along with homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and/or transmisogyny, are even more impacted by coronavirus, as the pandemic effects those populations that are the most systemically vulnerable. 

Already, many grassroots organizations and indviduals have started community-funding initiatives to provide assistance to those at most risk. Nonprofit organizations are contacting their funders, asking if they can reallocate donations to operations and employee pay. An emergency fund has been set up — http://queerantine.me/philadelphia-lgbtq-performers/ — for queer Philadelphia performance artists. 

In the coming weeks, as PGN continues to report on what’s happening in our community related to COVID-19, we will also focus on what large- and small-scale solutions are in the works. As the editor, I am now attending daily video chat meetings with local and regional LGBTQ nonprofits and individuals so that this paper can be as informed as possible as to how we, in this community, are helping one another. 

The LGBTQ community has a rich history of supporting one another. During times when it was unsafe to be “out,” we created spaces. When HIV/AIDS tore through our community, we comforted one another, opened our own health centers, created safe hospital wards, and PGN reported on the crisis. Now, we are again challenged to show the strength of our community. I think we will rise to that challenge, but we need to support those at most risk and those most vulnerable first — how we do that will measure our strength.