Shelter-in-place measures limit coronavirus numbers, but they also expose the ugly side of staying at home. Calls to domestic violence hotlines have been up across the globe and in some places, LGBTQ individuals have reported family environments that are “psychologically damaging.” But in Mexico City, one group is working to ensure that its LGBTQ community has a safe place to turn amid the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the shelter Casa Frida opened its doors to serve LGBTQ people who are struggling at home or who have lost income during an economically uncertain and volatile time. Guillermo Ramírez, the founder of Diversidad 360—an organization that helped establish Casa Frida, explained recently that the shelter is necessary in part because of how businesses across CDMX have closed, affecting the livelihood of vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community. Trans sex workers, for example, may have lost their homes in hotels; others might be struggling to maintain a living or suffering in difficult, unaccepting circumstances. And while the shelter is meant primarily as their refuge, it’s also open and offering services to anyone who might need a hand in CDMX.
“Casa Frida also opened a line for women who, regardless of their membership or not in the LGBT community, can ask for help from the shelter for experiencing violence in their home. Anyone can contact to donate, volunteer or ask for refuge,” Ramírez told Zocalo.
The shelter plans on staying open until mid-July and currently has capacity for 16 individuals. (In the first few days, Casa Frida received four people.) But Ramírez notes that even after July, Casa Frida hopes to leave its members with the support and infrastructure to find new opportunities in a challenging job market. He’s asking people in CDMX to support the effort by offering professional training workshops if they can. In addition, Casa Frida urges the broader public to make cash donations or give food and basic necessities from a list Casa Frida has put together to feed its residents and get people back on their feet.
“The idea is that after this, among all the organizations and whoever supports them, we help those who have sought out the refuge to get jobs without ever leaving them,” he said.