Some disturbing trends came out of a community needs assessment for the LGBTQ+ community in Quesnel.
Alison Prentice is the President of the Quesnel Pride Society.
“One in 4 LGBTQ+ reported they’d been threatened in the last 12 months. That really, really bothers me. 37 percent have been rejected by family and friends, half have been the subject of homophobic jokes, 4 percent have been assaulted. That’s terrifying.”
Prentice says getting rejected by family and friends is very powerful, as she says that often leaves them with no place to go for support.
On that note, Prentice says the biggest need that came out of the survey were the desire for more belonging and acceptance in Quesnel.
“A lot of people feel very lonely. There is no specific gay village, or gay shop. There are people that feel Quesnel is a very bigoted town, and homophobic town. As I said, personally I haven’t experienced it, but that doesn’t discount what other people have felt and experienced themselves. We’ve got to figure out ways where we can create safe spaces for people to meet and know that they can talk about LGBTQ+ issues and not get beat up for it.”
Prentice says informal meetups seem to be the most popular way of getting that safe space, adding that that could be in a coffee shop.
She says other ideas included creating movie nights, summer excursions, and outdoor activities.
Prentice says counselling, and more specifically affordable counselling, was the second biggest issue that came out of the needs assessment survey.
“People have to realize that words have power, and that the damage that words can do can inflict far greater harm than a broken bone or a bruise. And that damage, as we’ve seen in the survey, can last for decades. And that applies to everyone, straight or gay. But it really, really applies to this group here that are targeted, and feel outnumbered.”
Prentice says 100 percent of the respondents to the survey between 18 to 24 years old reported emotional issues.
She says parents advocating on behalf of those under 18 felt that more supports were needed in schools.
Overall, Prentice says she was happy with the participation in the needs assessment.
She says the Pride Society Board will now have to take a thorough look at the results, and start to figure out what their priorities should be going forward.