COLORADO SPRINGS — As COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop in El Paso County, many services are starting to come back.
Inside Out Youth Services is the largest nonprofit dedicated to LGBTQ+ individuals in the Pikes Peak Region, and the only organization that specifically serves LGBTQ+ youth. It was established in 1990.
During the pandemic, they moved their services to an online platform and were able to support 100 new people virtually. Still, there could be challenges related to internet access, or the lack of a physical connection.
"We serve a population of young people who often feel isolated, and we live in a society that often purposefully isolates them... We have seen the effects of the pandemic on our youth and their mental health," said Alissa Smith, the communications manager for Inside Out Youth Services.
On June 25, in-person services will resume every Tuesday and Friday. Mondays and Thursdays will stay virtual. Masks and other COVID-19 related precautions will still be allowed within the space.
"Having that sense of togetherness is the greatest thing that they can have to prevent any risk factors... The support that they give each other is just unreal. And it's so inspiring, and it makes you feel like the world's going to be okay," said Smith.
"I feel like emotionally, I've been on a big rollercoaster, with turns and tunnels. And you know, being transgender was the last thing that I wanted to be because at the time I was Black, still am, and I was out as a lesbian, and that already was kind of weird in my family, and I already have had to deal with racism... But being trans is personally one of the best things that has ever happened to me."
Marshall Seidel is a local transgender teenager who goes to Inside Out Youth Services. "This month for me, and every month before and after, it's just about me figuring out who I am, one step at a time... just hearing, you know, when I was in your shoes, it means everything," said Seidel.
Drop-in hours will be hosted at Inside Out Youth Services on June 11 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for Queer Prom preparations. Queer Prom is scheduled for June 18.