TikTok user @epipen7246 caused quite a stir when she posted a glorious, cinematic story on the social media channel. In her epic drama, the girl in question plays three roles: herself, her gay brother Jack, and their dad. Dad is on the computer when he stumbles across a mysterious app called Grindr using up all his data, causing Jack to freeze in fear mid-dishwashing.
The impending doom is felt on his face as Dad continues to question what Grindr is, Jack begins stating his ignorance of the app, when the sister sees what’s about to happen and takes the rap. “It was me! It’s my workout app!” she contends, before she winks at Jack and he whispers, “thank you”.
Entertaining social media content? Absolutely. But what this video really presents is the stark reality of what countless closeted LGBT+ people will be facing in this quarantine: being confined with people unaware – or worse, critical – of your sexual and gender identity. Without the option of leaving out of comfort or safety, thousands risk being placed in vulnerable situations for an uncertain period.
LGBT Foundation, a UK-based charity and support network, have stated that requests for their services and support were more than double the number received in the same period in 2019. The prospect of self-isolating with abusive, unaccepting family members is frightening.
The alternative, worryingly, would be taking to the streets. LGBT+ homeless charity akt (Albert Kennedy Trust) state on their website that they are receiving an enormous increase in calls, particularly from those under 18: “At a time where LGBTQ+ young people who are living in abusive or hostile environments are having to self-isolate, their safety and wellbeing may be more at risk than ever before.” The BBC has recently highlighted their wide range of services, including emergency safe housing with host families, access to food, phone credit top-ups and more.
Of course, these invaluable services themselves are under pressure as those working on the front-line face working remotely. On Thursday 19th March, LGBT Foundation temporarily shifted to become a remote service delivery charity due to the pandemic, meaning their face-to-face services would be suspended until at least 14th April. But it is important to remember that most organisations are still functioning in whatever capacity they can: help is available.
Moreover, these are times where relying on one’s chosen family has never been more vital. Maintaining strong lines of communication can be vital in assuring your loved ones that you’re safe but having allies on your side will hopefully assure you that things are not permanent, and you will be okay.
Here are some resources available to those who require intervention or support.
The LGBT Foundation Domestic Abuse program is still providing one-to-one support around domestic abuse. This will not be face to face, but the case work sessions will take place either through telephone support or online platforms such as Zoom.
They state that if it is not safe for you to use these platforms then the case worker can communicate over email or text. They can be found at lgbt. foundation/coronavirus/remote-services. akt specialise in LGBT+ homelessness support and are invaluable if you find yourself in a precarious or dangerous living situation You can reach them at akt.org.uk/get-help.
Similarly, LGBT Switchboard (switchboard. lgbt/) have excellent provisions in place, including a chat service and exit site feature you can use if you need to close the window quickly to avoid harm.
Trans youth charity Mermaids are focusing on protecting core services such as webchat, helpline and email support. They can be found at mermaidsuk.org.uk/news/covid-19-information.