By By PFund Foundation Grant Writer, Kate Mohn of Obvio Group
One of the things I miss during the pandemic is being able to go see a movie in theaters with friends, especially if we were able to grab a drink or dinner afterwards to argue about if the film was any good. As queer people, movies can be an important way of seeing ourselves and learning about our history and culture, especially if we grew up in families that were not familiar with GLBTQ+ communities.
When I first saw the documentary We Were Here in 2012, I thought the film was a beautiful exploration of the community-based care response developed in San Francisco when the AIDS epidemic hit in the 1980s. Watching it in 2021, the film hit very differently–I had a familiar sinking feeling as they described the confusion of the early stages of a new disease striking, felt even more respect and gratitude towards the healthcare workers who provide care and comfort to the sick and dying, and am reminded that so much of what science and medicine understand today about virology can in part be credited to the work done on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus over the past forty years.
Another reason why I love We Were Here is that it shows how a community can overcome a lack of resources and use collective action and mutual aid as a way of dealing with compassion fatigue during a time of crisis and plague. Compassion fatigue is a common psychological response to the kind of chronic and societal-wide trauma we have all been living through the past year. It is when we are exposed to so much suffering that we find it harder to empathize with our fellow humans because of our own mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion.
One of the things commonly recommended by mental health professionals to combat compassion fatigue is to find ways to proactively help others. In San Francisco in the 1980s, the queer community came together to build a public-health and mutual-aid infrastructure to take care of the people with AIDS in their community. This included a volunteer corps of hospice workers, community food banks, blood drives organized by queer women, and everyday people volunteering or donating to HIV- and AIDS-related causes.
Forty years later, we in the upper Midwest can learn from the San Francisco model as we attempt to fight our own compassion fatigue and provide care and support for the vulnerable communities that have been hit extra hard by the pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic has affected our communities in so many ways – unemployment, inequitable access to healthcare, misinformation, and widespread social movements seeking justice. PFund will be hosting a virtual discussion about compassion fatigue and the resiliency of queer and marginalized communities on Wednesday, May 26 from 5:30 to 7:30. There will be a moderated panel discussion and an open audience Q & A session.
Please register for the event online and join us on May 26.
The Latest on COVID-19 in Minnesota
All eligible Minnesotans can now walk in for a COVID-19 vaccine at the state’s Community Vaccination Program locations. 16 and 17-year-olds must receive consent from a parent or guardian, so the state encourages families to walk in and get vaccinated together! Find the location that’s right for your family by clicking here.
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