Christmas can be a very difficult time for many LGBT+ people, it is traditionally a very heteronormative festival with an emphasis on family. For many LGBT+ people, family has a different meaning: referred to “family of choice”. This is often due to necessity as many still face discrimination, rejection, and estrangement from their biological families and turn to their community for a sense of inclusion and belonging.
Since opening in 2013, Birmingham LGBT has held a party on Christmas Day so members of the LGBT+ community do not have to spend Christmas Day alone. This year due to Covid-19 and the ongoing restrictions, it will sadly not be possible for us to do this.
At Birmingham LGBT we recognise that the LGBT+ community has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. We are now in a second lockdown, and many social groups, bars and community spaces are closed, which can result in increased isolation, poverty and poor mental health for many members of our community. As a result, many LGBT+ people will be dreading Christmas this year, facing the day alone in isolation.
We want those people to know we are still here for them. We will be organising a Zoom social on Christmas Day so people can connect with other members of the community. We are also intending to deliver a small hamper with a Christmas gift and some Christmas treats to community members who would have attended our Christmas party, had we been able hold it.
To do this, we need your help and support to cover the costs of Christmas gifts, food and treats to make hampers for members of the LGBT+ community.
Click here to donate via Gofundme.
Please donate and let members of the LGBT+ community know that someone is thinking of them this Christmas.
Following a successful funding application to Comic Relief’s COVID-19 recovery fund, Birmingham LGBT is proud to announce the addition of a new free therapeutic counselling service to its range of wellbeing and sexual health services, as part of the recovery from the effects of COVID-19. The centre already offers counselling services for members of the trans community, which launched in late 2019, and these new funds will enable the organisation to offer counselling to all members of the LGBT community.
The funding award will enable Birmingham LGBT to offer free counselling sessions for 6 months to support people during the recovery from COVID-19. The organisation is thrilled to be able to offer this new service, particularly in the light of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the mental health of the LGBT community. Isolation, financial hardship, and a lack of family support are just a few of the many issues impacting the community, many of whom relied on community groups at the LGBT centre, and the bars and clubs in Birmingham’s Gay Village, to provide much needed social activity.
Steph Keeble, Director of Birmingham LGBT said ‘I am delighted that Comic Relief have decided to support this application which will enable us to offer free therapeutic counselling to members of the LGBT community for the next 6 months, many of whom have experienced poor mental health and isolation as a result of the pandemic “
The centre has two fully qualified and BACP registered counsellors available, who will be offering person-centred LGBT affirmative therapy. Due to the current situation with COVID-19, Birmingham LGBT Centre is not open to the public – however appointments can be held via Zoom, Skype, or telephone. Full details are available on the website at www.blgbt.org or for more information or to book an appointment please email email@example.com.
As well as enabling the organisation to offer the counselling services over the next 6 months, the funding will also contribute towards essential core costs of running and staffing the centre. Like all charities, Birmingham LGBT has been hit hard by the pandemic, losing income from training, room hire and events. Anyone wishing to make a donation to the centre and the valuable work it does for the LGBT community can find out more on the website at www.blgbt.org/donate/.
Birmingham LGBT is working with Birmingham City Council on a campaign to support LGBT community members who have been impacted by Covid-19 and the social distancing measures in place. In order to do this, we need fully to understand the impact the virus has had on the LGBT community.
Many members of LGBT communities in the city feel isolated and experience barriers in accessing the advice and support they need. Others may be struggling with wellbeing issues such as lack of family support or living in the same household as family who do not accept their identity.
Has your mental health been affected, or that of someone you know?
Have you struggled with isolation?
Has your livelihood been affected?
Your input into our work will help to ensure we are reflecting the real-life experiences of our community.
Our starting point is a survey and guided focus groups, held online via Zoom, in a safe and confidential space with all findings anonymised. If you would like to get involved, and help the LGBT community in Birmingham, please get in touch.
We are holding an LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) focus group on: Friday 19th June, 12.30pm to 1.30pm. To register your interest, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are holding a TNB (trans, non-binary) focus group on: Tuesday 23rd June, 12.30pm to 1.30pm. To register your interest, please email email@example.com
This post was brought to you by Bethanie Browne, our Trans Sexual Health Outreach Worker.
Right now, the world is in isolation, and life is becoming Groundhog Day – or Russian Doll, for those who are not well-versed in their 80s films, but have now watched everything Netflix has to offer. Most people are struggling with cabin fever – however, we know it is important to highlight the particular difficulties the LGBT community may be facing right now. If you’re at home with family/friends who do not understand or maybe even know your true identity and/or sexual orientation, we want to try and take the edge off this frustrating and stressful time you have unwillingly found yourself in.
A lot of people in the community seek companionship, casual soirees, and outdoor activities to satisfy sexual desires, as well as meet new people who have common interests. So, we have devised some top tips to ease that thirst, safely and without hooking up physically with other people.
How to manage isolation thirst…
Reintroduce yourself to your sex toys (or buy some!) Get them out, get them washed, and get them working. This is a great time to get to know yourself, and the benefits are amazing for future intimacy with sexual partners too. It is always good to know what you like and do not like.
Use your hook-up apps and sites for a bit of light and casual sexting. Many sites and apps are great because you can set up a profile where no one will know your personal contact details or whereabouts. This keeps you safe and your identity hidden if that is a concern.
Old school moves – phone and webcam sex. As always, as long as you’re safe with your personal information and engage in sex with people you trust, go for it! Pop some candles on, maybe some sexy music, and get to know your body with someone on the blower.
PORN! Although this can be a controversial subject at times, we have done a little research, and there is a great site called Four Chambers (link can be found below), where they have stills and cinema clips for free. It is a community-funded site that relies on donations. You can sign up, get full cinema clips, and donate some money – the donations go towards further artistic projects. https://afourchamberedheart
Use our social media platforms to talk to others and get ideas. We are here, supporting the community, but ultimately we’re not the experts and if you have better ideas then please share them on our social media platforms.
So, there you have it. These are our ideas and we hope they can help in some way during this peculiar time. There is nothing wrong with feeling frustrated right now, but it is important to manage our emotions and desires by finding safe alternatives during this outbreak.
Most importantly: stay at home, protect yourself and others, and support our NHS.
Birmingham LGBT’s sexual health outreach workers are still available on the phone, Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 6 pm. Please, call us, and know you’re are not alone in this.
Keep watching our channels where we will be providing more Isolation Information for the LGBT Nation!