Charlotte LGBTQ nonprofits are proving resilient through COVID-19 crisis

Three local nonprofits share their experience quickly transitioning to digital services

By Jessie K Weir (they/them/theirs) | Contributing Writer

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LGBTQ nonprofits in the Charlotte, N.C.-area say the COVID-19 crisis has made their work more challenging, as they get creative and double-down on their efforts to continue fulfilling their important missions for the local community. Despite the challenges, three LGBTQ nonprofits in particular say they are proving resilient and have been able to transition to digital programming.

We spoke with three of the area’s top LGBTQ nonprofits about their exemplary work in the face of new obstacles and how they’re handing their work in this time of self-isolation and social distancing. It’s clear that these three organizations are all doing important work to make sure everyone in the LGBTQ community and our allies are still being served and educated.

The following responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

PFLAG Charlotte

How is PFLAG adapting their programming during times where we aren’t allowed to gather?

Karen Graci (she/her), PFLAG Charlotte President: PFLAG Charlotte has moved all in person programming that usually consists of support groups for other members to phone calls and web-based platforms to help those that we serve. We’re also working on how to take our teacher training sessions and move them to web-based live videos so we can still continue our role as an education source for allies in the area. These plans to move out of in-person programming came after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order to close businesses and to remain in your homes unless out for essential needs.

You can find out more about what PFLAG Charlotte is doing in their monthly newsletter and on their website.

Transcend Charlotte

How is the community that Transcend Charlotte serve’s coping with this virus?

Laura Conner-Hughes (she/they), Transcend Charlotte Executive Director: All in-person groups and work have been canceled until further notice. However, before the craziness of the virus Transcend Charlotte already had two Discord servers for our groups that we typically hold in the Transcend Charlotte offices. We’ve found through conversation on the Discord servers that some of our folks have real concerns. Some of them are immunocompromised and work in these jobs that have been recognized as essential, but the risk of going in and catching the virus at work could cost them their life. There are also folks who don’t have transportation to go get essential supplies. So, some folks who are able to go out and get groceries or supplies are getting those items for people who can’t leave their home like those who are immunocompromised or those without access to transportation. The community has really banded together during this time.

You can find out more about Transcend Charlotte’s work via their Facebook page and their website.

Time Out Youth Center

Where does COVID-19 leave Time Out Youth, an organization that thrives on its in-person programming, when we aren’t allowed to gather?

Haeley Rimmer (she/they), Time Out Youth Student Advocacy Coordinator: All of our in-person programming has stopped, but in the first week of our transition to digital programming, youth could make appointments to come to the center and pick up necessities or use the laundry and showering facilities for those who are without those facilities currently. When we stopped in-person programming we immediately got a Discord server with different channels for our identity-based groups and support groups that usually would hold weekly meetings in the space. All staff and volunteers have been told to stay home and they are working on how to get the training TOY had planned for the spring to become digitally formatted. We have also postponed events like their queer youth prom and other annually held actiivities, but we want to plan to celebrate together once it is safe for everyone to gather again.

Time Out Youth also shared this update this week from staffers James Rice III, Rodney Tucker, and O’Neale Atkinson:

You can find more details about TOY’s work and response to the virus on their website and Facebook page.


Featured Photo: Time Out Youth Center in the 2019 Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade. Photo by Grant Baldwin/Charlotte Pride.


ABOUT THE WRITER

Jessie K Weir (they/them/theirs) is a local artist in Charlotte, N.C., who’s major focus is in creative writing like poetry and narrative writing. They are also the author of the collection of poetry “No More Corks.”


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