COVID-19 outbreak impacts local LGBTQ+ community

Published: Apr. 23, 2020 at 6:12 PM CDT
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COVID-19 is impacting a local resource center. The Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center is making many changes to their annual events and weekly group meetings.

Jason Bennett, the Executive Vice President of the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center located in downtown Eau Claire says it's hard for many people, not being together at the facility.

"It's a social space that's the safe space part is LGBTQ people are invited to be able to come there and hangout for lack of a better term."

Bennett says the coronavirus is causing the center to make changes to their big events like PRIDE.

"We spend a lot of years building up to be where we can be in Phoenix Park, where we can be attracting a large crowd of LGBTQ people, youth and allies. So for us not to be able to do that this year or to do a scaled back version is really, really really upsetting."

The coronavirus couldn't have come at a worse time for the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center. The pandemic spiked shortly after the center moved into its new location on South Dewey St.

"We have this wonderful, new, big space and we can't use it. "

Bennett says members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community spend all year looking forward to pride, but because of COVID-19, the center is working to still keep it going. Whether it be a virtual event or in a smaller setting.

"There might also be a middle ground where maybe we're doing something in the park, but its smaller scale because restrictions are maybe not where they are now," said Bennett. "But we know even with the restrictions are lifted there's going to be people who are going to be weary of big crowds."

The Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center is having to make other changes as well, Benett says, to adjust to this new normal.

"All of our support and social groups have moved virtual. We have a weekly teen hangout that's actually happening 2 times a week now virtually. A trans support group that's happening virtually instead of in person."

Although everything is different right now, Bennett says the LGBTQ+ center is working hard to get through these tough times. The resource center hasn't made any final decisions for PRIDE yet.