COVID-19: how it has affected the LGBTQ+ community
The following blog was written by Social Value UK’s Digital Marketing, Communications and Events Assistant, Maddy England. Social Value UK continues to show a commitment to accounting for social value, thus working to decrease inequality and improve wellbeing
COVID-19 has had a profound effect on the LGBTQ+ community in many ways. With members of the LGBTQ+ community disproportionately suffering with mental health issues, homelessness and inequality.
In a year where social distancing and stay at home measures have become the norm, it has been overwhelmingly difficult for all. However, for many young LGBTQ+ people this has been heightened. Young people may be closeted and hiding aspects of their lives from people they are living with, due to not feeling able to talk with family about it, being isolated from safe spaces and being socially distanced from regular contact with LGBTQ+ communities. Already at greater risk of poor mental health, the physical disconnect from supportive, accepting communities paired with the inability to present as their true self, has left many young people feeling lonely and unable to cope.
Due to this lack of acceptance from family, a quarter of young people at risk of homelessness are LGBT. More over, whilst homeless, they are significantly more likely to experience targeted violence, sexual exploitation, substance misuse, and physical & mental health problems than other homeless youth.
For those who are able to stay, situations like this can make for a hostile household and put young people at risk of domestic abuse, more specific to the LGBTQ+ community such as coercion into conversion therapy, preventing access to discreet and affirmative support and stopping true gender expression.
One the other end of the spectrum, older LGBTQ+ people have been equally hit as they are statistically less likely to have children with their significant other and therefore have a reduced support system during this tough time.
As a result, it is no surprise that a report by KFF showed that 74% of LGBT people say worry and stress from the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health (compared to 49% in non LGBT people). Calls, emails and texts to LGBTQ+ charities providing support have jumped significantly, with UK LGBTQ+ helpline Switchboard reporting a 20% increase during the pandemic, with it only getting higher. This is more than worrying.
These statistics speak for themselves. It has been a tumultuous last year for the LGBTQ+ community and support and outreach is absolutely vital to protect the mental health of the community (of all ages). It is important that we keep talking about these issues, increasing safety and visibility, supporting the community by donating to charity and showing up in conversation for the community. Not just this month, but all year round.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues or feel you need some guidance helping others, we have listed some great resources below:
- Akt – Supports LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25, facing homelessness or living in a hostile environment.
- Stonewall – COVID-19: Get help and help others.
- LGBT Foundation – Advice, support and information during Coronavirus
- Gendered Intelligence – COVID-19 Resources
- The Proud Trust – Virtual LGBTQ+ youth groups
- Opening Doors London – Online befriending service for older LGBTQ+ people
- 10 Ways to Safely Affirm Your LGBT Identity During Lockdown
The Social Value UK