ASHEVILLE, N.C. — As the nation confronts the significant and unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) created a rapid response grant round to quickly route funds to individuals, families and community organizations across the LGBTQ South. The grant round of $25,0000 will be distributed through CSE’s Southern Equality Fund.

The South is home to an estimated 5.1 million LGBTQ adults. New research demonstrates that LGBTQ people are disproportionately vulnerable to the health risks of COVID-19, including members of the community being less likely to have health insurance than non-LGBTQ people. LGBTQ people include senior citizens, people with immune conditions and people with chronic disease and those groups at highest risk for serious cases of COVID-19. LGBTQ people are also first responders, health care providers and employees in the industries that have already been impacted by the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19.

Applications are now closed due to an overwhelming response and are based on three categories:

Emergency Assistance for Individuals and Families: LGBTQ Southerners are able to apply for immediate financial support of $100. The easy application process is designed to route funds quickly to people already experiencing the health and financial impacts of the pandemic and its secondary consequences, with a focus on people and communities who are at particularly high risk. Applicants can use the funding for basic needs like groceries, rent/mortgage payments, prescriptions or medical bills, prevention supplies, and more. CSE will distribute a total of $10,000 through emergency assistance grants. Gender Benders, a longtime partner of CSE, has donated $5,000 for these grants; the group serves transgender and gender diverse Southerners through support, resources, and activism.

Community Response Grants: Anyone can apply for a grant of up to $500 to fund a project to meet the needs of LGBTQ Southerners in response to COVID-19. Whether it’s a project focused on connecting LGBTQ elders with meals or tech assistance, an initiative to connect people virtually to build community, an effort to address mental health challenges that will be exacerbated by social distancing, or something else, we’re looking forward to reading applications and providing support as part of this $7,500 grant category. Learn more.

Frontline Grants to Direct Service Providers: Staff from the Campaign for Southern Equality will direct grants to frontline organizations that provide direct services to LGBTQ Southerners at high risk of being impacted by COVID-19. This $7,500 grant category will support at least three grants to community partners.

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said: “In times of crisis, we know that LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities are at greater risk of experiencing increased disparities. We’re hopeful that this new infusion of funding to support individuals, families, and grassroots activists will be one way to provide immediate relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Southern Equality Fund has always been about responding to our community’s urgent needs while investing in the next generation of Southern LGBTQ organizers, and that’s what’s at the core of this COVID-19 grant round, too: Helping people who are hurting and encouraging innovation for grassroots action that makes a difference.”

Southern grassroots organizers working to promote equality, health, safety, and/or visibility of LGBTQ people in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic can learn more about the Southern Equality Fund online.


Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.