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Diverse & Resilient offers support, safe spaces for Northeast Wisconsin’s LGBTQ community

Local News

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) — Diverse & Resilient‘s Appleton office opened in 2019.

“We work with people who are surviving violence, any type of violence,” Kathy Flores, Dir. Of Anti-Violence Programming explained. “It could be community or hate violence, it could be intimate partner violence, sexual violence, bullying in the LGBTQ community. And our youth programs really work to prevent violence.”

Over this past year, the Milwaukee-based organization has been busier than ever.

“We were hearing from a lot more youths who now had to be quarantined with abusive family members,” Flores said.

Many of Diverse & Resilient’s services center on young people.

“I provide, like one on one advocacy with LGBTQ young folks,” Youth & Young Adult Advocate Reiko Ramos said, “whether that is through their coming out process, [or] just figuring out who they are.”

According to Flores, celebrities like Demi Lovato coming out can help others feel like they’re not alone.

“I think it helps with awareness,” Flores said, “but it also helps normalize us, because we are a vibrant, large part of every community, including the celebrity community. They just happen to get a lot more fanfare when they come out.”

Lovato announced Wednesday that they identify as non-binary, and that they will be using “they/them” pronouns moving forward.

People who identify as non-binary identify as neither male or female.

Flores says that the term may be new to some people, but the identity is not.

“Folks just maybe didn’t know what to call it before,” she said. “Having language helps because it helps people say, ‘oh, that’s a community I feel connected to.'”

For those in the community, pronouns matter.

“We have seen studies over the years of youth who are called the right name and the right pronoun of their gender identity, it decreases suicide,” Flores said.

It might take some getting used to, but Flores says having a willingness to learn is what matters.

“If you mess up somebody’s pronouns, you apologize, you change your behavior, and you move on,” she said.


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