Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month, we checked in with a handful of the most recent grantees of Community Foundation Boulder County’s Open Door Fund. Read on for updates from OASOS, Open Studies, and Rainbow Elders:
“While our school-based work has changed dramatically due to COVID, we’re still publishing resources and news that are relevant to students and staff. And to maintain our programming, we have shifted to offering our services virtually.”
They continue, “The Community Foundation’s Open Door Fund has allowed us to incentivize youth participation, which is one of the factors that has supported high attendance in our Youth Advocating for Change [YAC] group. Members attend every week, which has been helpful for their well-being.
“LGBTQIA+ youth already face isolation due to the stigmatization of their identities, which has been exacerbated by the COVID constraints. Our YAC members share with us that they look forward to the meetings, and that this is one of the few spaces in which they can connect with other youth.”
Heather further point out that OASOS has seen increased stress among youth due to spending more time with non-accepting relatives that misgender them and don’t use their pronouns; as well as a decrease in reports of bullying due to spending less unsupervised time with peers. “We are going to continue working with the youth we serve to understand what future needs may arise in supporting their mental health and wellness,” they say.
Indeed, to retain Open Studios’ webmaster – enabling online programming – Mary went on furlough and worked as a volunteer for four months. “It’s been both challenging and rewarding to create ways to serve artists and the public with smaller, safe events – as well as virtual events and services,” she says. “More planning and creative energy has been required of us this year, but – with the help of a handful of COVID-19 emergency grants – we were able to revise programs and create new programming to accommodate the pandemic environment.”
Adds Mary, “We’re extremely pleased to have received a grant from the Community Foundation’s Open Door Fund, which helps support our outreach.” Specifically, artists and QTPoC (Queer and Trans People of Color) community members served by Out Boulder County will come together, using art as a means of expressing ideas and emotions brought on by the events of 2020.
“The QTPoC community is at the intersection of a number of challenges, including income insecurity, racial inequality and unrest, and more,” reflects Mary. “COVID-19, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, and the culture wars churning in our country have exacerbated these challenges for QTPoC.
“We’re using art to help people articulate their feelings – frustrations, anger, and more – and to help them see a path forward to how they might bring about change.”
“We’re using our Open Door Fund grant to produce our annual Lavender Gala – a holiday celebration for Boulder County’s LGBTQ+ older adults.” This year, the 20th annual Lavender Gala for the 50-plus crowd will grow to multiple virtual events, kicking off Dec. 7 and concluding Dec. 13.
“The Lavendar Gala has always been crucial in providing a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ older adults, to be accepted and celebrated for being their authentic selves,” adds Michael. “We’re forever grateful to the Open Door Fund for providing the primary support for this event over the past two decades.”
On October 31, Out Boulder County, in partnership with your Community Foundation, is producing the annual Gayla event supporting our LGBTQ+ community. Main ticket sales for the Gayla have closed, but you can still join the fun by viewing the event live. Get your ticket by donating any amount over $50, and you'll have access to the event, including a performance by Melissa Etheridge.