By Carley Crain
Peer Support is the glue that keeps the LGBTQ+ community together. It’s the foundation that lays the groundwork for acceptance and activism which are two crucial aspects of queer joy. The LGBTQ+ movement wouldn’t be where it is today without peer support.
LGBTQ+ folks need community. They feed off of it. Without community, LGBTQ+ individuals often face isolation, rejection, and sometimes an assortment of mental health issues.
With this, connection is a must, a need for survival. Especially in New Hampshire, where this past week the majority of NH state representatives voted to ban gender affirming care for trans youth. Lawmakers also passed HB 396, which allows for segregation based on “biological sex” rather than gender identity. Additionally, this bill would undermine NH’S nondiscrimination protections, which protects trans folks from discrimination in areas such as housing, public places, and employment.
It’s safe to say our trans peers need us more than ever right now. And peer support offers the blanket of warmth and security that the LGBTQ+ community so desperately needs. It lets folks show up exactly as who they truly are. No masks, no hiding– two coping mechanisms that LGBTQ+ folks often are forced into for survival purposes.
At the root of peer support is inclusiveness, community, and connection. As trans folks are actively getting their rights stripped of them, a supportive community of peers can be lifesaving. So many LGBTQ+ folks are used to being part of environments that aren’t designed for them or are just flat out not accepting of them. Peer Support celebrates diversity and encourages individuals to embrace their true selves.
Peer Support also challenges non-LGBTQ folks to step into the shoes of others who are queer, as it forces folks to look beyond themselves. This concept in itself is why peer support and the LGBTQ+ community intersect so well. Allies are encouraged to reflect and evaluate ways of supporting their fellow peers, while LGBTQ+ folks need that sense of belonging and safety. Peer Support allows us to connect with folks who may be very different from us. It teaches compassion.
At Connections, Carley, our Community Outreach Coordinator, hosts a weekly LGBTQ+ rainbow group on Thursday’s at 1:00 in our Portsmouth center. Join us to learn more about how we can support our LGBTQ+ peers!