NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — ACCESS AIDS Care and the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads held a forum Thursday night to discuss the implications of the 2016 Presidential Election.
In a news release Thursday, the groups said “statements and the lack of policy detail” from President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have given members of the LGBT community a “cause for concern for their rights to live openly.”
The event was moderated by former Norfolk City Councilwoman Nicole Carry and featured an open panel discussion. It took place at 7 p.m. at the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads.
People within the LGBT community tell 10 On Your Side the main thing they are seeing is that people are afraid. At Thursday night’s meeting, they hoped people would share their feelings, support each other, and find ways to move forward.
Members of the LGBT community say they woke up on Wednesday with a pit in their stomach.
“I just felt really heavy, you know, emotionally and mentally,” said Justin Finley, who has worked at the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads for three years. He says the feelings he had after the election were upsetting.
“I can never remember feeling that I should be fearful of, you know, being exactly who I was designed to be, and I felt that way,” said Finley.
Some members of the LGBT community say they are not only concerned about social issues, but also for their health with potential changes to the Affordable Care Act.
Clay Porter, who lives in Virginia Beach and just recently started working at the LGBT center, said, “How are my values, anxieties, aspirations going to be represented in a Trump Administration? And how will the landscape of a Trump Administration change public health and my right to exist not only as a gay man, but also my right to life as a gay man with HIV?”
Those fears and concerns are what motivated the folks at the LGBT Center to organize a community discussion.
Stacie Walls-Beegle, Executive Director of LGBT Center of Hampton Roads, said, “To provide whatever support they need and the feeling of fear and persecution is something that is overwhelming.”
They say the goal of the meeting was to create a safe space where people can share their feelings, but it’s not meant to bash political candidates. Instead, they want to help people process and then figure out ways to move forward.
Finley said, “Now’s the time not to cower, but to mobilize and I think that’s what important.”