In the time of COVID-19, just about every type of group activity has moved online. That’s true for a Salt Lake Community College queer support group, Prism.
The group meets 2-3 p.m. every Wednesday on Zoom and in-person (masked and socially distanced) at the Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center. These meetings give students an opportunity to get away and talk about things on their mind.
Peter Moosman, who runs the resource center and programming, says Prism is a discussion-based support group, not therapy.
“We have folks from all walks of life: students, staff, faculty,” he said. “It’s just a place to build community, to talk about what’s going on in our lives … It’s been a really powerful weekly meeting.”
Between the ongoing pandemic and a tense upcoming election, Moosman says Prism gives students a safe space to talk about how they are feeling.
“Especially right now, with COVID and people feeling stuck and alone, Prism is a way for students to get engaged on a different level,” he said. “People are feeling even more isolated and alone, so Prism is a way for people to find that connection with others.”
Moosman co-facilitates the meetings with Ardi Ghimire, a licensed therapist in the Center for Health and Counseling at SLCC, so those participating can lean on someone who is professionally trained if the conversation gets heavy.
“Prism is a combined effort of GSSRC and the Center for Health and Counseling to foster and promote mental well-being of this LGBTQIA community,” Ghimire said. “It provides space for our queer students to process and support each other. Students are encouraged to network, talk about anything that they need support with, and feel safe. The group is confidential and provides a safe, embracing, and non-judgmental space to be whatever they want to be and anything they want to share.”
Prism also gives students a chance to connect with other students.
“It is an important resource, because students from the LGBTQIA community have limited space on campus where they can connect with a community of similar backgrounds, network, and be familiar with resources while learning to take care of their mental health,” Ghimire said.
Moosman says topics can range from the serious to the practical.
“We’ve talked about relationships, we’ve talked about community building and finding our people. We’ve talked about classes, COVID, all of the above,” he said. “LGBT students, in particular, feeling isolated and alone in homes they particularly don’t feel loved or welcomed or safe in, this [support group] gives them an opportunity to kind of escape that space for a little bit, and be able to talk about those concerns.”
In addition to Prism, SLCC is celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month with many other events and activities this October.