On Wednesday, Sept. 16, Aleksei Gorshkov, assistant director of PRIDE/Women’s Centers, and Kenneth Messina, director of the Counseling Center, worked together to hold the first LGBTQIA+ support group of the semester.
Gorshkov said that they “. . . want it to be a combined effort from the professional counseling perspective and the perspective of the professional ‘queer’ (as I call myself).”
This support group is looking to offer guidance to the LGBTQIA+ students who are struggling during the pandemic with loneliness, social and emotional isolation, anxiety, depression as well as anxiety and safety concerns that come with being at home, where guidance and support may be lacking.
Gorshkov made it clear that they had been already wanting to offer support for the LGBTQIA+ students, but the circumstances from the pandemic had made it more salient than ever before.
“The idea has been around for a while since I came to the campus last October,” Gorshkov said. “I had met with LGBTQIA+ individuals who had reported some issues with their families and friends in the light of their sexualities. Some reported not feeling safe on campus. They showed signs of anxiety and depression. Then I started talking to the Counseling Center to create a support group. But the actual push has been provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic as most of students were forced to go back to their homes, some of which are not welcoming.”
These times of pandemic life have been causing everyone to feel unclear, lost, and, for the LGBTQIA+ students in many cases, unsafe. Gorshkov offered some advice for students struggling in these times of COVID-19.
They offer advice stemming from their personal experiences, “even if you think you do not have any outlets, you do have them. Look closely. Look deep inside yourself, it’s there. When I was cut of any systems of support not being able to talk to anyone, I’d find my inspiration in movies, readings, writing and walks.”
“Now we have technologies,” Gorshkov noted. “If you feel down, connect with people online, with groups you feel you belong to! Do not try to be on your own. Attend our group and we would be glad to have you with us.”
SRU’s Pride Center is here to offer support during these challenging times, and at any time. For more information about the LGBTQIA+ Support Group, contact the Pride Center at 724.738.4378 or the Counseling Center at 724.738.2034.