Finding an alt(ernative)View for Community Support

Funding from ECF helps the altView Foundation finds new ways to support members of the LGBTQ2S+ community during (and after) the pandemic

These days, it’s common to feel separated from the communities that have always brought us closest together. However, the solution for many has simply been meeting their community online or connecting more with those in their immediate household.

But what if you were never able to be your most authentic self with those in your home, or if the only community that made you feel welcome has yet to reopen?

For many queer and transgender youths, this is reality.

“For a lot of youths, their support system would have been a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or a Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA) in their school,” says Michael Green, the executive director for the altView Foundation. “Of course, when schools closed, a lot of those youth were…cut off from what they may have already built for themselves in terms of support systems.”

Green explains that increased isolation often brings an increase in depression and anxiety. He shares that some LGBTQ2S+ youths do not feel safe in their homes, causing them to feel trapped without a safe outlet.

Recognizing the need to provide support, altView looked back to the pillar idea that started their organization: LGBTQ2S+ people across Alberta should not feel isolated, unsupported, and afraid of being themselves.

So, altView got to work.

With help from Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF), altView found alternative ways to provide programs that offer a safe space in which members of the LGBTQ2S+ community can connect.

“Remaining connected to our communities is important to maintain mental health during the pandemic,” Nneka Otogbolu, ECF’s Director of Communications and Equity Strategy, says. “This is especially true for people who might be facing prejudice or discrimination at home. This is why we were happy to be able to support the altView Foundation through the Rapid Response Fund.”

With many LGBTQ2S+ community programs and Queer-Trans-Straight Alliances (QTSAs) remaining closed during the pandemic, the need for support was crucial.

“Our first big thing is that during the pandemic … we moved a lot of our programming to virtual,” says Green. “But as many organizations and schools found over the course of the pandemic, people started getting burnt out on screen time, particularly youths.”

Adapting their programs to best suit the community, Green shares that altView will introduce  a community QTSA to be hosted on Discord.

The instant-messaging platform will allow members of the community to virtually “gather and have access to the same sort of supports, just in a slightly different form.”

“Many youths will be able to access the Discord server even from their phones,” explains Green.

Through the new programming, more youths will be able to connect and gain support with altView, regardless of geographical boundaries.

Green adds that even when the pandemic ends, the foundation plans to continue offering the new programs across the province, providing a greater sense of community to as many LGBTQ2S+ youths as possible.

Learn more about ECF’s COVID-19 response.