Our immediate goal is to raise awareness of the needs of the multi-faceted LGBTQ+ community in Bergen County, NJ. Our ultimate goal is to facilitate meeting those needs.
How will we achieve our mission?
Through video discussions with several hundred members of this long-underserved community, we aim to gain a much deeper insight into the needs of this population locally. We will include in those discussions a broad and diverse cross section of the community, including groups who have historically been difficult to reach and therefore have often been unseen and chronically underserved – for example LGBTQ+ people of color, older single sex couples, transitioning trans gender people, homeless LGBTQ+ youth and LGBTQ+ individuals engaging in risky sex practices. We will also speak with a range of allies, service providers to the LGBTQ+ community and others who have an interest in or stake in the local LGBTQ+ community. This will give us a qualitative and relatively comprehensive set of views of needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
We are supplementing this video interview project with a short survey / questionnaire that we are distribution to a wider cross section of the LGBTQ+ community. This comprises 12 questions, is anonymous and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Again, the focus of this survey / questionnaire is on needs of the local LGBTQ+ community. We hope that interviews plus results of the survey / questionnaire will result in an assessment of need and priorities among the local LGBTQ+ community.
We will also consider the quantitative needs of the LGBTQ+ community by compiling available data on the community, eg what proportion of the local population falls into each of the elements of the LGBTQ+ community. We recognize that this will require approximations. There is a lack of detailed data available on the LGBTQ+ population. But we are confident that sufficient data exists, at least at federal and state level, to allow us to extrapolate to Bergen county. By doing this, we will be able to give a reasonable assessment as to the scale of the needs of the community in key areas, such as need for facilities for LGBTQ+ homeless youth and need for services for members of the LGBTQ+ population experiencing domestic violence and sexual violence.
Recognizing recent significant efforts made and strides taken within Bergen County to address the needs of this complex community, we will also assess the extent to which those needs are currently being met from current and immediately planned initiatives and resources. In assessing these resources we are conscious that each relevant local service provider has a specific mission statement to serve a particular element of the community / aspect of the community’s needs. For example, NJ Buddies (serving those living with HIV and AIDS), local hospitals (providing, for example, gender reassignment medical services to the trans gender population), and not for profit volunteer bodies such as PFLAG and GLSEN. None of these organizations claims to, or is able to, fulfil every aspect of the needs of the local LGBTQ+ community.
Having made these assessments of needs and resource currently available, we will be able to provide an assessment of the gaps, if any, that exist between needs and current services.
We will also compile a comprehensive register of local, publicly available services so that it can be accessible to the local LGBTQ+ community. We hope this will make it easier for members of the community to access local services and to help counter the view that often prevails at present among members of the local LGBTQ+ community that there are no local services for them and that they have to go to New York City, in another state, to access services.
In addition, by compiling all these videos of discussions with Bergen County’s LGBTQ+ population, we believe that we will also have a unique testimony of the rainbow of life and experience that is the current LGBTQ+ community in our county in the third decade of the 21st century.
Depending on the results of this work, we aim to establish some form of LGBTQ+ community resource that will outlive this project. We are not yet able to decide what the shape and form of the resource will be. It could be anything from a widely available and regularly updated website with links to all relevant resources and other tools to help the different parts of the LGBTQ+ community to a physical, bricks and mortar resource center.