We spoke with a number of 2SLGBTQQIA+ people about the ways that they and their communities have been personally impacted by COVID-19 to kick off The Canada-wide 2SLGBTQQIA+ COVID-19 Survey. Read Jacqueline Gahagan’s story!
Jacqueline Gahagan on helping the most vulnerable
“It’s been a challenge for everyone. As a professor, it’s been difficult to connect with my students over virtual classes,” explains Jacqueline Gahagan, a medical sociologist and professor of Health Promotion at Dalhousie University. “It’s not only more challenging in terms of teaching class material, but also when it comes to helping those who may be struggling to cope with the stress, isolation or loneliness that comes with social distancing protocols.”
Jacqueline researches health inequities among marginalized populations and has seen first-hand how COVID-19 negatively impacts mental health, from peers to students and members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. Jacqueline is especially concerned for those more vulnerable members of the community who may be experiencing the combination of isolation and unsafe home surroundings. “For instance, a homosexual, bisexual or trans person living with others who aren’t accepting, or in some cases even abusive.”
In an effort to connect those who may be at risk, several support groups and online social initiatives have come together to encourage mental health and community interaction among the queer community. Egale Canada offers the “Rainbow Table, which organizes virtual gatherings aimed at older LGBTQ+ community members across Canada. “The objective is to reach some of the more isolated people affected by the pandemic,” Jacqueline says. “While younger generations are generally more tech-savvy and have an easier time connecting with their social circles on digital platforms and via social media, seniors are having a harder time making connections as they self-isolate, and in many cases live alone.”
In another initiative designed to assist this vulnerable population, Jacqueline launched the Nova Scotia LGBT Seniors Archive in 2019. The collaborative project involved creating a collection of interviews, photos and other materials to highlight the contributions and changes made by elderly members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. The collection is currently available online, while physical materials are housed within the Dalhousie University Archives in the Killam Library. Jacqueline will continue her work on the archives project, noting that the physical collection will be open to visitors as soon as COVID-19 protocols permit.
How have you experienced the pandemic as a member of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community? Take our survey and share your thoughts with us.