Mormon couple turn home into LGBT crisis centre
A Mormon couple in Provo, Utah, have made their home a sanctuary for members of the LGBT+ community in need of food and shelter.
Jeff and Jerilyn Pool set up QueerMeals in response to a community need for a safe space for queer people to go, feel safe, and eat a hot meal.
What began as a personal endeavour by mental health worker Jeff and graphic designer Jerilyn has now become a nonprofit organisation running entirely on donations from individuals and local businesses.
QueerMeals is run from their home and “open 24/7 for folks who need a safe space to visit and decompress,” Jerilyn told PinkNews.
Having moved from Oregon to Provo in 2016, specifically to work with the LGBTQ community, the couple decided to use their Mormon values to craft a space where LGBT+ people can be themselves.
The Pools told PinkNews that roughly half of the people that come visit their home are struggling with profound suicidal thoughts.
Many young people and adults throughout Provo depend on QueerMeals to provide them with, not just food, but also emotional support.
Kris, an asexual Mormon trans man, told PinkNews: “I can never repay their kindness to me. They have never once slipped on my pronouns and my name and have made connections for me so I could get binders.”
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Another attendee, 24-year-old Josh, told PinkNews: “I started going to QueerMeals six months ago and it is now my second home.
“I can go there when I’m hungry, in distress, or just want to hang out. I can express myself however I want and I don’t need to censor myself. When I’m having trouble at work or with family, I can get support from QueerMeals.”
The Pools told PinkNews how important it is for this space to exist – a place where LGBT+ people’s pronouns are respected, their identity is not questioned, and community help is available.
QueerMeals relies solely on charitable donations – if you would like to make a donation, please get in touch with QueerMeals via their website.
You can donate a custom amount, or $25 pays for “one sheet cake with a hilarious message from a hater found in the comments section.”