Groups look into COVID-19 social impact on LGBTQ communities
Two groups assessed the COVID-19 social impact on LGBTQ communities to determine how the pandemic would affect them, especially in terms of mental health and social isolation.
A study was conducted in UK by the LGBTQ community research Queer Voices Heard last March 13-20 and surveyed 900 people who identified as LGBTQ through an online questionnaire.
Meanwhile, The Trevor Project, a LGBTQ charity in the US that runs suicide hotlines, came out with a report focusing on LGBTQ youth after they experienced an increase in crisis contact volume from LGBTQ youth.
Looking into the COVID-19 social impact
The Queer Voices Heard surveyed respondents recruited through LGBTQ partners like DIVA, Gaydio, Gay Times, Gay Star News, National Student Pride, PinkNews, UK Bi Pride, and UK Black Pride.
The UK study was undertaken to “understand the perceptions and attitudes of LGBTQ people, how they intend to respond to this emerging epidemic, and who the community looks to for leadership over the coming months.”
No evidence to suggest that LGBTQ people are any more likely to catch COVID-19 than the general population.
However, Queer Voices Heard acknowledged that during the pandemic, “LGBTQ people will face a unique set of circumstances that will mean that the virus will disproportionally affect the them socially.”
On the other hand, The Trevor Project expressed worries that some LGBTQ young people will face long periods of confinement in unsupportive or abusive environments during the COVID-19 crisis.
Overall assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic
According to the Queer Voices Heard survey, the LGBTQ community scored high in the knowledge about the virus due to the “continued widespread news coverage.”
Because of this, 84 percents of respondents believed that they have at least “a fair amount” of knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Majority or 72 percent of the respondents are also “concerned about the impact catching coronavirus could have on them.”
What’s more, under a third or 32 percent are “concerned about how COVID-19 might have a negative impact on their physical health because of existing medical conditions.”
Meanwhile, over a quarter or 28 percent are concerned about “passing it on to others, such as a vulnerable spouse, relative, or friend.”
COVID-19 social impact on the LGBTQ people
LGBTQ people in the UK also acknowledged that their day-to-day lives will change due to the COVID-19 crisis with the majority saying that they would stop doing certain activities and observe social distancing.
Before the UK government implemented social distancing last March 23, 24 percent said they would still consider going to events, 28 percent would still meet up or go on dates, and 16 percent would still meet up for sex.
Three quarters or 75 percent said they support the cancellation or postponement of Pride events. But they also said “something else must be put in its place.”
More than half or 57 percent said they believe that their lives will be “worse off in six months’ time,” which was consistent across all gender and sexual identities.
Stu Hosker, co-founder of Queer Voices Heard, explained that: “For many in our community, Pride events are one of the few opportunities for LGBTQ people to freely express who they are and to connect with others.”
COVID-19 social impact on the LGBTQ youth
For The Trevor Project, they noted that LGBTQ youth could face more difficult mental health strains due to extra economic, isolation, and housing instability.
“LGBTQ youth already face increased risk of anxiety and suicide and disproportionate rates of unemployment and unstable housing,” Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project, told Jamie Wareham of Forbes.
“The COVID-19 global pandemic has the potential to exacerbate these ongoing concerns and to create new, unique problems for LGBTQ youth,” warned Paley.
He added: “It’s critical to remember that physical distancing does not have to mean social isolation. We’re telling LGBTQ youth: Do all you can to stay connected with your friends, family, or chosen family.”
Hosker also said: “When mental health and social isolation already disproportionately affects our community, it’s vital that we listen to the voices in our community who are most vulnerable.”