“When mental health and social isolation already disproportionately affects our community, it’s vital that we listen to those who are most vulnerable”
BY SOPHIE PERRY
A new snapshot study completed by LGBTQI+ community research Queer Voices Heard delves into the social impact of the coronavirus pandemic on LGBTQI+ people.
The study, which was undertaken between 13-20 March 2020, set out 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.”
The study saw 900 people who identified as LGBTQI+ complete the online questionnaire about their experiences and perceptions of COVID-19. People were recruited through the support of LGBTQI+ partners including, DIVA, Gaydio, Gay Times, Gay Star News, National Student Pride, PinkNews, UK Bi Pride, and UK Black Pride.
It is important to note that there is no evidence to suggest that the LGBTQI+ community are any more likely to contract COVID-19 in comparison to the general population. Queer Voices Heard, however, acknowledges 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.”
Queer Voices Heard: Results
First and foremost, the research found that knowledge of the virus is high within the LGBTQI+ community as a result of the “continued widespread news coverage”, with 84% of respondents believing that they have at least “a fair amount” of knowledge of the pandemic.
The study found that of those surveyed a majority (72%) are “concerned about the impact catching coronavirus could have on them.” Just under a third (32%) of respondents are “concerned about how COVID-19 might have a negative impact on their physical health because of existing medical conditions”, whilst just over a quarter (28%) are concerned about “passing it on to others, such as a vulnerable spouse, relative, or friend.”
Results from the research also suggest that people do acknowledge that their day-to-day lives will change due to the virus. At the time of completing the survey it was found that a majority of LGBTQI+ people said they would stop doing certain activities, in order to observe social distancing (now put in place officially by the UK government).
However, it was also found that 24% would still consider going to events such as house parties, 28% would still meet-up or go on dates and 16% would still meet up for sex. These beliefs may have now drastically changed since completing the study given the UK government’s new, stricter policies on social distancing implemented on 23 March.
The research found that three quarters (75%) of respondents support the decision to cancel or postpone Pride events but believe “something else must be put in its place.”
Alarmingly, over half of those surveyed (57%) believe that their lives will be “worse off in six months’ time”. This figure was consistent across all gender and sexual identities.
“For many in our community, Pride events are one of the few opportunities for LGBTQI+ people to freely express who they are and to connect with others,” explained Stu Hosker, co-founder of Queer Voices Heard.
“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 – physically, mentally, and socially – and address how we keep their best interests in mind during this unprecedented health emergency.”
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