Illinois LGBTQ orgs closing over and monitoring coronavirus


CHICAGO — Illinois LGBTQ organizations have been reacting to the spread of the coronavirus in the state, including postponing events or closing for the time being.

As of Thursday, there are 25 cases in the state.

The Rainbow Cafe LGBT Youth Center in Carbondale said on its Facebook page that it would remain closed on Friday, March 13, in light of Southern Illinois University’s decision to extend spring break and cancel some events. They will be working on alternatives and make decisions about future events as they monitor community actions.

Metro Trans Umbrella Group in St. Louis has cancelled their spring cleaning event at their headquarters in St. Louis and have started fundraising for food and toiletries to support transgender people during the outbreak.

Also in St. Louis, TransParent said that their third annual Trivia Night event, set for Saturday, March 21, has been postponed. They are planning to reschedule for fall and will be coordinating with those who have already bought tickets to give refunds.

Aurora Pride, which will produce the city’s Pride celebration in June, said they are staying updated on recommendations from the CDC, state and city about future plans. The parade is still set for June.

Nationally, more than 100 national and local organizations have signed on to an open letter to health and media outlining how COVID-19 may pose an increased risk to theL GBTQ population and laying out specific steps to minimize any disparities.

The letter was initiated by a coalition of six organizations: the National LGBT Cancer Network; GLMA Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality; Whitman-Walker Health; SAGE; New York Transgender Advocacy Group; and National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.

The LGBTQ community’s increased vulnerability, the letter stated, is because of three factors:

  1. The LGBTQ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
  2. The LGBTQ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
  3. LGBTQ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps noteven then.

Also, there are more than 3 million LGBTQ older people living in the United States. They are already less likely than their heterosexual and cisgender peers to reach out to health and aging providers, like senior centers, meal programs, and other programs because of discrimination and harassment.

More than 100 organizations, including Howard Brown Health and Center on Halstead, have signed on to the letter.

The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association has a resource page so people can find an LGBTQ-friendly provider.

The Illinois Eagle is reaching out to organizations and will update as we find out what is open and who has had to close temporarily. If your organization is taking action in response to COVID-19, please email [email protected].



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