Having a chronic illness can sometimes make it hard to find new friends in general. But the world shifting more towards online groups and meetings over the course of the pandemic has personally been truly transformative for me, giving me a chance to socialize and find community even when I’m alone in my bedroom. The Center groups moving online rather than in-person made it possible for me to attend meetings, become involved, and feel connected for the first time.
I was very excited when I got the chance to become part of Zig Zag Pride, the Center’s new group for LGBTQ+ chronically ill, neurodivergent, and disabled people as a facilitator. Being able to guide group discussions and help shape the group’s development has been one of the best and most rewarding parts of these last few years for me. It is very important to me to make Zig Zag Pride a safe and accessible place where everyone can feel at home. I am really excited to see how our new group will grow in the future.
I am frequently struck by how often people in Zig Zag talk about how hard it is to find others who understand what it’s like when you are both LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent, disabled, or have health issues. Intersectionality and accessibility are both topics that come up frequently in our meetings, and I really appreciate how in-depth and varied the discussions always are.
Facilitating has made me more aware of the various issues facing our community, from housing to workplace discrimination to accessing healthcare. I feel more motivated than ever to find other ways I can try to effect change through volunteering and activism.
Being a volunteer facilitator makes me feel a little less alone and has helped me to realize that I’m not the only one who often feels isolated, be it from health issues or other reasons. I want to give back to the community that has meant so much to me, and support others just as I was supported earlier in my journey.
Hometown: Burbank, CA
Year Started Volunteering at Center: 2021
Volunteer Positions: Facilitator for Zig Zag Pride