Beating the Queer-antine Blues (BQB) was a week-long national campaign in May 2020 designed to give the Indian queer community the know-how and support needed to navigate through the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Outforce India (Salesforce’s LGBTQ employee resource group), in collaboration with Pride Circle and Suicide Prevention India Foundation (SPIF), took into account the most pressing issues and challenges. We then built relevant conversations around them and worked to create a safe space where the LGBTQ community could connect, find resources, and know we’ve got their back.
We extended this program to our Salesforce India Ohana (family in Hawaiian) but also to the larger Indian queer community. The nationwide campaign included:
Our hope is that our endeavour will help and heal the LGBTQ community in ways big and small and reassure them that while we may be apart physically, we’re in this together.
We've all been struggling with loneliness, isolation, and uncertainty during this pandemic. Imagine what it's been like for the LGBTQ community. In this series of four webinars, industry experts and ally voices come forward with advice and support to make it better.
Allyship in a virtual world
(Sun, May 17, 2020)
With a lack of real-world safe spaces and support systems because of the lock down, can we make it easier for the LGBTQ community to fill the gap by reaching out and building connections online? This question was the focus of the webinar on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT).
Build support networks to beat isolation and loneliness
(Tue, May 19, 2020)
The pandemic has brought into further focus the discrimination, economic, and health vulnerabilities that are an everyday reality for the LGBTQ community. Uncertainty about jobs, inability to access proper healthcare, and the possibility of having to live out the lockdown with unsupportive homo- or trans-phobic parents, siblings or friends compounds the situation.
The webinar throws light on essential coping methods that are needed at this time.
Tackling challenges among the trans community
(Thu, May 21, 2020)
The effect of the novel coronavirus pandemic has been disproportionately large on the trans community. While isolation is bad enough, there are also fears about unemployment, an inability to connect with real-world support groups and allies, and the reality of being trapped in transphobic environments. Add a lack of access to healthcare, HRT medication, and postponed gender reassignment surgery schedules to the mix and you can imagine the challenge on hand. This webinar addresses How-tos and methods of coping in this scenario.
Building foundations for mental well-being
(Sat, May 23, 2020)
What do we mean by stress, anxiety and depression? How do they affect our physical, professional, social and personal lives? How can we practise self-care? How can we help others? This webinar helps you build a stable foundation for long term mental well-being.
While self-care may be the word du jour, the possibility of self-harm rises during a crisis. It takes sensitivity, sensitization, and a concrete plan of action to be able to intervene and help someone struggling with suicidal thoughts. This training-cum-certification program was designed to help with this. It offered guidance on being able to identify and recognize signs of suicide and highlighted the importance of prompting vulnerable individuals to seek timely and accurate help from mental health professionals.
The importance of mental health has never been greater than during this pandemic, more especially for the LGBTQ community. Given the insufficient availability of queer-affirmative counsellors and prohibitive mental healthcare costs, Outforce started a free-to-all, 7 day, 6:00 to 10:00 PM helpline, providing a safe space to anyone who needed it. We clocked scores of calls from the queer community and allies from all age groups, from all across the country.
Conversations and concerns that were top of mind during the lockdown included decisions to come out in the face of increasing pressure at home, stricter gender-conforming expectations, financial distress, and of course depression and anxiety stemming from no access to real-world safe spaces and support systems.
In response, Salesforce is currently running an internal fundraiser, the proceeds of which will support an NGO working with the LGBTQ community.
How does a transgender sex worker, who earns their livelihood through cheap and dangerous sex work with "straight" men, under bridges and in other public spaces after night has fallen, "work from home"?
Social distancing, isolation, and the resulting economic repercussions have made life for the trans community a living nightmare Their livelihoods and to a large extent their very existence depends on physical contact: sex work, benedictions, and begging. Starved of acceptance and inclusion under normal circumstances, at this time they find themselves literally facing starvation.
Believing that humanity must trump judgement at this time (or any other time), Outforce, along with United Way of Hyderabad (a major local nonprofit) and Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli (transwoman and leading transgender human rights and RTI activist) is driving a fundraising initiative internally amongs Salesforce employees to support members of the Indian trans community.
If you’d like to lend a hand and make a difference, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This in-depth report comprehensively captures the intent and the extent of the BQB campaign. You can expect a snapshot of the key challenges experienced by the LGBTQ community brought on by the lockdown, get access to the conversations started by the webinars, as well as get an understanding of the most common issues discussed on the helpline. Presented in an easy-to-comprehend FAQ format, it will serve as an effective toolkit for providing support and assistance be it with regards to understanding mental health, managing loneliness effectively, tackling challenges faced by the trans community, or building overall mental resilience.
The full-and-final report will be available for download shortly.
Outforce brings together employees who are allies of equality in sexual orientation and gender identity, and LGBTQ employees. Along with all our Equality Groups, Outforce also seeks to educate our Salesforce ecosystem on the importance of diversity and inclusion in creating business success.
The Outforce theme for 2020 is Love Unites Us. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us feeling isolated, stressed, and vulnerable and we look towards love to bring us together.