For those who celebrate Pride Month every June, things might feel a little different this year. Although LGBTQ+ people have fought for and gained civil rights over the decades, the recent political climate is threatening those rights – and many people have already had those basic civil liberties taken away.
Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills in the U.S. Have Hit New Records in 2023
According to the Human Rights Campaign, over 540 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures (a new record) and over 220 bills specifically targeting transgender and non-binary people (also a new record) have been introduced.
Out of these bills, 45 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted so far this year, including:
- Laws banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth
- Laws requiring or allowing misgendering of transgender students
- Laws targeting drag performances
- Laws creating a license to discriminate
- Laws censoring school curriculum, including books
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is tracking anti-LGBTQ+ legislation on their website – there are currently 491 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the U.S. Because of the current political situation, you might not be in the mood to celebrate, but Pride Month is more important than ever. Fear, anger and bigotry might be sweeping the U.S., but we can’t let it stop us. LGBTQ+ individuals and allies must continue to assert the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
This Pride Month, we wanted to share some resources that can help LGBTQ+ people in Virginia (and nationwide) celebrate their pride and get help if they need it.
Organizations That Support the LGBTQ+ Community in Virginia (And Nationwide)
Emergency Help and Support
Region Five Crisis Line (Coastal, Southeastern Virginia)
If you live in Region Five, also known as the Greater Tidewater Hampton Roads Area or Coastal, Southeastern Virginia, we’re your local authority on LGBTQ+ mental health support and resources. If you or someone else is struggling with suicidal thoughts or another crisis, we are here to help.
The Region Five Crisis Line is available anytime, 24/7, at 757-656-7755. If you don’t live in the Region Five area or if you don’t have a 757 area code, you can dial 988 to reach your local crisis center. A trained counselor specializing in LGBTQ+ issues will listen, offer support and, if you want, connect you with local resources that can help.
Sage provides advocacy and services for LGBTQ+ elders, a group that’s often overlooked. Besides advocating for older LGBTQ+ people at the federal, state, and local levels, Sage operates the 24/7 SAGE LGBTQ+ Elder Hotline. Older adults who identify as LGBTQ+ can call in to talk to a certified crisis responder who will listen, offer support and give information about community resources.
The SAGE LGBTQ+ Elder Hotline is 877-360-LGBT (5428).
Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia (Statewide)
The Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia (TAPVA) is run by trans people for trans people. This all-volunteer organization was created to end homelessness within the transgender community in Virginia.
TAPVA provides clients with temporary emergency housing in host homes and transportation to temporary housing, appointments, and workplaces. They also connect them with resources to help them get back on their feet.
In addition to emergency housing services, TAPVA also provides educational opportunities. If you’d like to help the movement and make your organization more inclusive and knowledgeable about the issues facing the transgender community in Virginia, they offer education around the “intersectionality between homelessness, discrimination, socioeconomic status and racism within the trans community in Virginia.”
The Trevor Project (National)
The Trevor Project offers a 24/7 crisis hotline for LGBTQ+ individuals. If you or someone else is experiencing suicidal thoughts or another crisis, you can call the hotline at 1-866-488-7386. You can also text by sending START to 678-678 or chat with someone online.
The Trevor Project also provides LGBTQ+ youth aged 13-24 years old with TrevorSpace, an online community where you can “explore your identity, get advice, find support, and make friends in a moderated community intentionally designed for you.”
Trans Lifeline (National)
Trans Lifeline is a grassroots help hotline run by and for trans people. They offer “direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis.” The hotline is available anytime, 24/7, and calls are always completely anonymous.
Find out more about the hotline on the Trans Lifeline website.
General Services and Support
LGBT Life Center (Norfolk, Virginia)
The LGBT Life Center offers counseling services, support groups, information, and assistance with transportation and housing for LGBTQ+ individuals. The center also provides testing and other physical wellness services.
To find out more about the resources they offer, visit the LGBT Life Center website.
Your Local Community Services Board (Statewide)
Wherever you are in Virginia, you have a local community services board (CSB) that offers accessible and affordable care for all areas of behavioral health, including mental health, substance abuse and developmental and intellectual disabilities. You can always find the support and resources you’re looking for at your CSB. No one is ever turned away.
In Region Five? Find your local CSB here.
Somewhere else in Virginia? Find your CSB here.
Hampton Roads Pride (Norfolk, Virginia)
Sometimes, what LGBTQ+ people need isn’t assistance or counseling, but the opportunity to come together in pride and connection. Hampton Roads Pride is behind several major Pride events in Virginia, including PrideFest, Pride Block Party, Pride on the Beach, and the Run the Rainbow 5k. In addition to producing pride celebrations, they also provide:
- Educational programming focused on building inclusive communities
- Panel discussions to increase understanding of LGBTQ+ people and their challenges and resources
- Safe opportunities for LGBTQ+ Community members and allies to connect
- Meals to members of the community experiencing homelessness
- Scholarships for the next generation of LGBTQ+ and allied leaders
Find out about upcoming festivals from Hampton Roads Pride here.
COLAGE was created for children of LGBTQ+ parents, as a way for them to connect, support one another, share their stories and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. COLAGE is open to children and teens 8 years or older, as well as adult children of LGBTQ+ parents.
PFLAG (Norfolk, Virginia)
PFLAG provides monthly meetings for parents of LGBTQ+ people and general meetings for family, friends and allies every month. The parents meeting is virtual (via Zoom) and the general meeting is in-person in Norfolk.
Find out more about PFLAG meetings here.
Want To Get Involved? How To Support LGBTQ+ Organizations in and Around Suffolk, Virginia
Are you an LGBTQ+ community member or ally? If you want to support any of the organizations featured in this blog post, visit their website for more information. Most of them accept monetary support and some offer volunteer opportunities.
If you don’t identify as LGBTQ+ but want to support LGBTQ+ community members, the first step to being an ally is understanding. Educate yourself, so you know the issues and challenges that LGBTQ+ people are facing. This way, you’re always prepared to spread awareness and educate others. Below are some resources that can help you get started.
Education and Resources for LGBTQ+ Allies
The following aren’t organizations, but resources for anyone who wants to be an ally, or just to simply better understand LGBTQ+ people.
Region Five Is Dedicated To Supporting Our LGBTQ+ Community in Coastal, Southeastern Virginia
We’re dedicated to assisting and supporting our LGBTQ+ community members. We offer help for mental health concerns and substance abuse through our community services boards (CSBs). We also offer emergency support through our crisis line.
Ready to get support? Find your local CSB or call the Region Five Crisis Line at 757-656-7755 for immediate help.