Every single day that our team at the Campaign for Southern Equality shows up at work – now remotely – we are made hopeful by your support for us. We’re made hopeful because of what we experience regularly across the South, which is people banding together to do things that were once considered impossible and making them possible. Now, we want to offer you support as we all respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is not a time for bromides or easy promises. But it is a time to remember the deep reserves of strength, resilience, and hope in our community. It’s a time to take care of yourself and your loved ones and, if you are so positioned, to ask how you can help.
Concretely, we add our voices to the chorus urging social distancing, and we encourage you to consult a combination of guidelines from the CDC and your state and local health departments for local guidance about steps you can take right now to stay healthy and to help flatten the curve.
We’ve spent the past week planning to pivot CSE’s work so we can be of the most service right now across the LGBTQ South. We’ve had some practice over the years at being nimble, and even shapeshifting to some degree – you don’t win in the South, or play effective defense, by running the same plays over and over. All of that is to say that part of our DNA as a team is knowing that we’ll need to change our work as the world changes.
We wanted to share what that will look like now, with more details to follow soon:
- First, we will be opening a special grant round through our Southern Equality Fund to financially support responses to COVID-19 across the LGBTQ South, with a focus on people and communities who are at particularly high risk. We’re developing the guidelines for this grant round, and our goal is to open it next week.
- Next, we have cancelled all in-person programming and will be offering whatever content we can virtually, from rapid response organizing to trainings. We’ll also be adding new virtual programming to create ways for LGBTQ people across the South – some who are at particular risk right now and others for whom being at home is not always easy – to feel a sense of community and connection. We’ll keep working on the many parts of our work that can be done remotely, such as the next update to our Trans in the South resource guide.
- Finally, we’ll be listening closely. There is a lot we just don’t know right now about how COVID-19 will affect different communities and about what people will need. We will find out by listening. You are part of the community that is CSE and that makes our work possible. If you have ideas, questions, or concerns, let us know.
This is an unprecedented experience in our lifetimes and, I’m guessing, you are probably experiencing a wide and vacillating range of emotions. I know I am – and, for me, faith is the place I go when I need to be reminded both of all that has come before us and of all that is possible. Whether faith is a part of your life or not, I know that within each of our interior lives, we have ways to make meaning of difficult and uncertain times. We need those resources now, just as we need each other.
With gratitude and support,