Phoenix – Since the stay-at-home order was enacted in Arizona on March 15th, the percentage of calls we are receiving from youths struggling with issues related to being LGBTQ has doubled compared to this time last year,” says social worker Nikki Kontz of Teen Lifeline, a teen suicide prevention project in Arizona. While many restrictive measures have been lifted, Arizona LGBTQ youth are still – for the most part – at home as their usual escapes such as school are still closed. Fortunately, many are sheltering in place with supportive families but – sadly – some are not. Echo staff talked to LGBTQ youth about their quarantine experiences, both good and bad, and the experts on resources they can access when needed.

Cat, age 15, identifies as bisexual. Her parents are divorced, and she lives with each half the time. She says that she feels supported in her two homes and that quarantine didn’t change life much for her except switching to online school. Cat says. “I feel supported but I do chat with friends. I like alone time. They [her parents] support my sexuality and my relationship with my pan-romantic / asexual partner who is transgender.”

Ethan, age 12, identifies as gay. During quarantine, he has been home with his parents and two of his siblings. “My parents are conservative Christians so they do not support the LGBTQIA+ community,” he says. “However, all of my siblings are queer or allies.”

Apollo is a young adult (22) who identifies as bisexual and transgender and has been quarantined with his two moms. “My home situation is a little odd,” he explains. “My moms support half of my identity. They’re fine with me being bisexual but not trans. [The nonprofit] One·n·ten has been huge in keeping me sane, being able to do the online groups and be myself. … The Youth Advisory Council even threw me a surprise birthday party via Zoom so I got to celebrate my birthday as myself for the first time.”

“Feelings of isolation by LGBTQ+ young people did not start with the quarantine, but it has increased due to quarantine,” explains Clayton Davenport, of One·n·ten. “According to our 2019 data, 59% of the youth who attended one or more programs at One·n·ten reported being completely out to their family. But for those individuals who don’t feel supported at home, please consider attending one of our online digital programs taking place Monday through Friday. We are here for you! You’re not alone,” assures Kontz, who shares that Teen Lifeline is a great phone or text resource for youth. Shannon Black of Free Mom Hugs Arizona, a local nonprofit, wants LGBTQ youth to know that they matter – and would like allies and LGBTQ adults to know that they can make a difference. “They are unconditionally loved, celebrated, and affirmed,” Black says. (Echo Magazine – Michelle Talsma Everson at Echomag.com/quaran-teen/)