'Extremely isolating': LGBTQ+ homeless community faces more challenges
"It can be extremely isolating, as if homelessness in itself is not already isolating enough."
Pride month is a time for celebration, but it's also a time for raising awareness of the issues that members of the LGBTQ+ community face - and providing support to those who need it most.
Homelessness affects many members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly young people who have felt ostracised from their homes because of their sexuality.
Glen has worked in Dublin Simon Community emergency hostels for over three years. He says that while there is a myriad of reasons why a person might become homeless in Ireland, when it comes to LGBTQ+ people, it can often occur after they have disclosed their sexuality.
"Whether it be because they’re not accepted by their family, are afraid to come out to their family, or they could become homeless because they are being targeted or bullied in their area and want to escape," he tells Her.
"Sometimes due to the pressure or fear surrounding these issues they can long to start a fresh new life. [They] will become homeless and travel to a completely different area in order to try to start over."
Dublin Simon Community's Glen
Becoming homeless can be an incredibly stressful and anxiety inducing time for anybody. Feelings of isolation, rejection, and panic are likely to feature as a person adjusts to their surroundings and figures out what their next steps are - feelings that are often exacerbated when a person is already struggling with their sexual identity.
"The burden of becoming homeless adds increasing weight to their mental and physical health," says Glen. "This can be immensely hard for them as they are trying to navigate their way through life.
"In some hostel environments people can hide their sexuality as they fear it will affect their safety or people’s opinions when it comes to sharing rooms with them. It can be extremely isolating, as if homelessness in itself is not already isolating enough."
Dublin Simon Community prides itself on providing a safe and inclusive space for all people who use its services. Glen says that staff and clients are educated on LGBTQ+ issues and encouraged to nurture a non-judgemental and supportive environment for all, regardless of sexuality, race, or gender.
"What is fundamentally important in times like this is being supported, loved and acknowledged," says Glen, "and having somewhere to call home - things we take for granted."
Dublin Simon Community, like countless other charities across the country, has been hit hard by Covid-19 due to the cancelling of fundraising events and drives.
The charity is currently seeking donations from the public to continue providing its services in Dublin and elsewhere.
You can make a one off or recurring donation to The Simon Community here.