Growing up in Singapore, Washington University undergraduate Luka Cai was closeted, finding little support there for members of the LGBTQ community. But even in their new home of St. Louis, where Cai openly identifies as a pansexual transmasculine queer person, they’ve observed a need for more peer-to-peer support.
“When I came to St. Louis, I felt very much more affirmed and accepted by the St. Louis queer community, and I saw the same needs around me,” Cai said, “of people feeling isolated, rejected, discriminated against — and that comes out in terms of housing insecurity and employment security as well.”
This led Cai to the idea for SQSH, the St. Louis Queer+ Support Helpline that they and a co-founder launched earlier this month. The all-volunteer effort aims to be “for the St. Louis LGBTQIA+ community, by the community,” inviting calls to 314-380-7774, with highly trained volunteers ready to provide support.
On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Cai joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss SQSH, which currently operates on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Those hours are expected to expand when a new crop of volunteers complete training in December.
Cai, a Wash U senior majoring in political science with minors in sociology and legal studies, received a grant from the university that helped launch the project. A total of 65 people have since become involved as volunteers in some capacity, and SQSH is still looking to recruit more, particularly for administrative roles.
Listen to the conversation:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.
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