Answering the Call: Showing Up for Each Other and Our Community in the COVID-19 Crisis
These last few weeks have challenged all of us in ways we never expected. So many of us are feeling anxious about our own health, and that of our families, loved ones, friends and community.
We are beginning to learn of people near and known to us getting sick, and watching the number of people affected by COVID-19 increase across the country. We are seeing the toll the pandemic is taking on frontline workers – from hospitals to grocery stores – and on our healthcare system overall.
I hope in this time you are finding ways to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing, which is more important than ever in times of extreme stress.
It’s clear now that the situation we are in will take months, not weeks, to resolve. We’re all going to need to prepare ourselves for uncertainty, and learn to remain resilient in the face of fear.
It’s not an easy task, but I’ve already seen our community step up in countless ways, to do what needs to be done to protect each other.
In the challenge of this moment, GLAD is adapting to make sure we can continue our critical mission uninterrupted. We are finding new and creative ways to work together, even as we are physically separated.
I’m grateful to GLAD’s team of staff, volunteers, and supporters who are pulling together to ensure that we are up to the challenge. Because now, more than ever, I understand how our community needs GLAD’s vital work.
Our community needs GLAD to share resources to navigate this pandemic, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Our community needs a place to call for help when they face discrimination, or need help navigating challenging systems. Our GLAD Answers legal information and referral line remains open for business.
Our community needs GLAD to keep fighting for everyone who wants to serve our country during this national crisis, including transgender individuals seeking to serve in the military, which is already playing a critical role in providing food, health care, and other essential services.
Our community needs GLAD to protect LGBTQ people from being wrongly fired from their jobs, and as a result losing not only income but health care.
Our community needs GLAD to advocate for the release of as many people held in detention as is safe and possible, not just to protect their individual health, but also the collective health of the public.
Our community needs GLAD to ensure that families facing medical crises do not also have to fight to have their relationships recognized in emergency rooms.
And our community needs GLAD to remind policymakers the lessons from the HIV epidemic, that especially in the face of political pressure and fear, we must protect victims of COVID-19 from stigma and discrimination and ensure their medical privacy.
That is our mission in the weeks, months, and year ahead.
I want to share some personal thoughts about what we face moving forward.
Of course, like you, I am worried about loved ones, like my 74 year-old mother, who is far away and isolated in the basement of my sister’s home in Michigan to protect her health. It is my greatest hope that my family and yours stay safe and healthy.
But I have broader worries as well.
I worry that fear might cause us to turn away or against each other, instead of caring for the sick.
That panic will cause more harm to our public health systems than the disease itself.
That economic devastation will destroy the lives of vulnerable people who already don’t have enough of a safety net to count on.
That we will start to see our livelihoods and survival as a zero-sum game, instead of seeing our fates as tied to each other.
There is no such thing as a risk-free world, and we will all have to make personal decisions about what level of risk we are willing to make in order to protect and care for our fellow humans, in the months to come.
But we all also have an opportunity to ask ourselves, what more can I be doing to protect and care for my fellow humans?
That is what we will be called upon to answer, over and over again in the year to come, and I know that GLAD, and our community, will continue to do so, without pause.
Now, more than ever, our mission is critical and vital, and we must and we will do everything we can to protect our communities.