How Queer People Can Support Each Other Right Now
With stay-at-home orders extended until May 8, community support is still essential
by Jacob Ratliff (he/him) | ashevilleMARKETER
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We’ve always depended on each other in one way or another––whether in the fight for queer rights, AIDS research, and, to put it bluntly, to keep each other alive.
With the global COVID-19 pandemic continuing to disrupt the entire world, it can feel like those communities we’ve depended upon––the organizations, businesses, and queer spaces––have completely vanished. And for us queer folk who have often spent years finding and building these communities, it can feel like our family has suddenly disappeared.
The notion that our queer circles have disappeared from the face of the earth couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, our queer community is especially important in the face of COVID-19.
It can feel like COVID-19 has brought the world to a halt, but we as queer people know that leaning on each other is what’s going to help us through this pandemic.
Here are four easy ways that we can support each other:
Support Queer-Owned Businesses
Small businesses across the country have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, and queer-owned small businesses are among those hardest hit. Despite being sequestered in our homes, many of us are continuing our shopping habits online. If you’re already spending time shopping online, spend that time shopping queer-owned businesses. And if you don’t have the dollars to spend on shopping, here are a couple of other ways you can support queer-owned businesses:
- Encourage your friends to support queer-owned businesses. Use your own sphere of influence to urge the people in your life to shop queer.
- Adjust your existing buying habits to include more queer-owned small businesses and fewer corporations. Queer-owned businesses contribute $1.7 trillion annually to the United States economy, which means that when you need to buy something, chances are that there’s an LGBTQ-owned business selling it.
- If you’re in the Charlotte area, the local LGBT Chamber has compiled a list of queer-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations you can support.
I’ve also written a longer article on 4 Ways Queer Entrepreneurs Can Support Each Other.
Share What You Have, Ask For What You Need
No matter what resources you have, you have something that someone else needs. Whether that be money, time, or a particular talent, you have something that someone else needs.
That also means that someone else has something that you need. You might need something as straightforward as assistance in paying your rent, or something as profound as support while making a major life decision.
If someone needs what you have, and you have something that someone else needs, and we’re both acting in the spirit of community, then the solution is clear: Share what you have, and ask for what you need.
This might sound great in theory, but my good friend Gareth Higgins, Editor of The Porch Magazine, has developed a great framework for community-building and mutual support.
Spend Time With Queer Art
Community comes not only in the form of other people but also in the form of art––literature, visual art, music, drama, cinema, and yes, even drag (but that’s another conversation). And when we humans are isolated and lonely, art is often one of the things there to bring us solace.
It’s more than entertainment and escapism, though. Spending time with queer art is the equivalent of spending time with queer artists––the art is just the medium.
Here is some of the queer art that’s getting me through self-isolation:
- Book: No Other World, Rahul Mehta
- Drama: Angels in America, Tony Kushner
- Cinema: Sordid Lives
- Drag: Biqtch Puddin’s Digital Drag Shows
Advocate for Queer Rights & Visibility
Just because we’re staying in our homes doesn’t mean that our queer community can cease its advocacy work. Connecting with and supporting queer organizations like EqualityNC, Time Out Youth, and Transcend Charlotte can be a great way not only to connect and build community with other queer folk but also to take tangible action to support each other. Charlotte Pride has also been rolling out digital programming allowing you to connect with LGBTQ issues. See a full list of Charlotte Pride virtual programming here.
It’s up to us
As queer folk, we have everything we need. In fact, chances are that between all of us, we have more than what we need. And when we share what we have with our queer family and don’t hesitate to ask for what we need, we not only address the issues we’re struggling with but also create something beautiful: community. We queer folk have depended on our community from the beginning, and we know that continuing to do so is what’s going to get us through this global pandemic.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jacob Ratliff (he/him) is the founder and owner of ashevilleMARKETER, a digital marketing firm specializing in strategy development and execution for small businesses across the country. Jacob focuses on helping businesses fuel sales and organizational growth through growing their audience, generating leads, and converting more customers. He lives in Asheville, N.C.
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