2020 marks the 25-year Celebration of Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM).

As we reflect and celebrate our 25 years, we are also in the midst of a viral pandemic that is set to change our reality in ways we have not yet grasped. As an organisation we have already been affected and have had to postpone a number of events. We have had to re-evaluate what it means to say I AM HERE.

As a team we have committed to journey honestly with the complexities of celebrating 25 years, while asking ourselves critical questions. One of the first questions that we are posed with is what does it mean when we say IAM is a community that cares?

Our rapidly changing reality

As of today, the IAM team will be working remotely. Each in our own home, we will remain connected with each other through different means. We are aware that this shift to working remotely (yet still collaboratively) will change us. It will change the way in which we work. It will change the dynamics of who we are as a team. It will bring a new kind of creativity as we develop new content and processes.

We are used to staff meetings being spaces where we connect deeply as human beings. We usually sit around a large table, offering each other honest feedback and holding creative spaces for each other to grow and create processes and content that shape the transformation of ourselves and others. We’re used to looking each other in the eye, being able to touch and be creative in an embodied way. Our personal narratives, our lived realities and our embodied experiences have added value and richness to our engagement around the table.

Reflecting on our community

However, as we journey together towards new possibilities of deepening our creativity, we ask ourselves critical questions for wellness and wholeness. 

What does a COMMUNITY OF CARE look like in the time of a viral infection that is marked by social distancing?

What do ACTIONS OF CARE look like in a community that cannot touch?

How do we reformulate who we are as a CREATIVE COMMUNITY, holding onto the best parts of who we are as work remotely?

Over the next few weeks, we will reflect on what this means for ourselves as vulnerable bodies, bodies that are already on the margins and now exposed to a viral outbreak that has swept the globe. We will especially pay attention to the most at risk bodies among us and what it means to be a community of care, while placing those who are most vulnerable at the centre of our focus.

As LGBTIQ+ people and allies, we are aware that close contact between people can have a positive and a negative effect on LGBTIQ+ bodies, our health and wellbeing. We know especially from our experiences during festive seasons and holidays, that it is especially hard on our mental health to be amongst family who are toxic, exclusive and unaffirming towards our sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characterises (SOGIESC). For many LGBTIQ+ people, social distancing can be difficult because social circles – friends and loved ones – are the spaces where LGBTIQ+ people can be themselves. 

For this reason, IAM will post creative possibilities on social media from next Wednesday, March 25, 2020 that can help us be a community of care in this time of self-isolation and social distance. There will also be an email address that you can use to get in touch you require information related to wellness, spirituality, health etc. We will help bring LGBTIQ + people in touch with relevant services.

Over the next few weeks, our focus will be on weekly posts to provide virtual support to LGBTIQ+ people and activists, faith communities and advocacy organisations to help us navigate a new landscape with hope, creativity and engagement. We invite you to join us as we collaborate to determine new possibilities as we commit by stating clearly and boldly, I AM a community that cares.

We will reflect on practices, symbols and rituals that will help us to sustain ourselves, as creative possibilities for others to join us. We will share these rituals and symbols as a way to sustain our journey with other vulnerable bodies. We are also open to answering frequently asked questions that may arise during this time of uncertainty and vulnerability.

Each week we will share a different focus of reflection within the following themes:

We will explore these questions and topics over the coming weeks and days, and we welcome you to journey along with us and offer your insights and thoughts along the way.