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The Coronavirus, referred to as Covid-19, has shaken the world to its core, and brought wide-ranging negative repercussions near and far. During this unprecedented period, domestic violence has been a particularly worrying repercussion for young members of the LGBTQ community. Many teenagers with limited options have been forced to remain confined with their potentially unwelcoming, homophobic families, leading to detrimental physical and psychological effects.
On the front line, organizations such as Le Refuge in France have been overwhelmed with calls and emails from distressed teens who have been forced to endure verbal, psychological and sometimes physical violence from their 'loved ones', irrespective of whether they are out of the closet or not. Such a situation can be seen in a recent testimony sent to Le Refuge by Dylan, an 18 year old LGBTQ male:
“I have been gay since I was 13 years old, and I am now in my final year at high school. My parents are in their fifties, and I have two big sisters. They are my family, but I no longer love them because they are horribly homophobic. I'm hiding, and I haven't come out yet, but when I hear them say things such as "another fag on TV, they are everywhere", it’s not very encouraging. It is a horrible thing to say, but I hate these people who are with me 24/7 as result of the current lockdown. I can't stay with them anymore, I am exhausted. Before the crisis, high school gave me a real break from home, and I had planned to tell them once I had an independent student apartment. But nothing has turned out as I had planned, and I am afraid that I will have a break down, come out, and be kicked out as a result. What should I do? Do you have a solution for me? If I have a break down, what should I do?"
The mission of Le Refuge is to protect young LGBTQ people like Dylan, by listening to them, responding to their distress, and in the most extreme cases, finding a safe place for them to stay for roughly 6 to 7 months, away from their families. Following the recent lockdown in France due to Covid-19, volunteers at Le Refuge have been overwhelmed with cases such as Dylan's. Staff have been answering calls and responding to emails for up to eight hours straight a day, and almost once every day, they are required to handle cases in which an LGBTQ teen has been kicked out by their parents.
The fight against this painful reality continues to remain close to our hearts. We have been supporting Le Refuge through our Mister for Good program for some time now, so it was only natural that we were going to assist during the Codvid-19 crisis. After reaching out to our community, many misterb&b hosts answered our call for help, and have offered their accommodation to LGBTQ teens in crisis for free. Thanks to their solidarity and the hard work of our Customer Service team, we have been able to provide emergency housing for almost a dozen young people to date, in Grenoble, Paris and Lille. But the fight has not yet been won, and we require your support more than ever. List your place now, and let us make the world a more welcoming, safer place together.
“I was very moved when misterb&b offered help during this very depressing period." says Nicolas Noguier, chairman of Le Refuge. “This partnership is beautiful. It’s heartwarming to see how supportive the misterb&b host community is and that we can find solutions together to help young people in distress.” Noguier sends a special thank you to the hosts who have extended the stays beyond the emergency period, offering their accommodation free of charge.
With lockdowns and stay-at-home orders slowly easing across Europe and beyond, we could be forgiven for thinking that the plight of LGBTQ youth would diminish. However, we need to remain alert, and misterb&b will continue to support Le Refuge, both fincancially and concretely, by calling on the generosity of our host community who is ready to accommodate young people in distress.
Check out more details on Le Refuge and offer your support now. Alternatively, you can contact their 24-hour Refuge emergency line (France only) on 06 31 59 69 50.
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