"Coming Out… of this COVID-19 Lockdown."
Bringing light into the present struggles of the LGBTQ+ Community
“To be honest with you, I love my family, yeah, but you know I feel this massive distance because of all the lies and all the hiding. It’s like I’m there but
a million miles away…” (Jaspal, 2021, p.1439)
Living in a world and society unforgiving of people just being themselves, the LGBTQ+ community has relied on one another to love each other and share physical spaces wherein individual expression of identity is celebrated. But, during this COVID-19 Lockdown, everything just came to a stop. Now, everyone’s deprived of the physical intimacies they yearn for: the talks, the hugs, the parties, the comfort. This has been especially hard for LGBTQ+ individuals. Suddenly, they’re isolated from overwhelmingly supportive friends, and also safe environments in which they could genuinely be themselves. In a preliminary survey conducted by Houghton and Tasker (2020; 2021), LGBTQ+ participants felt emotionally affected by the lockdown. Whether it may be due to their unaccepting families, hostile households and community, anxiety about relationships and identity, or loss of livelihood, the LGBTQ+ community faces disproportionate effects because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Gaining access to psychological services and support online is a tiny silver lining of this mess we’re in. Many clinics in different parts of the world have offered their services through online means in hopes of reaching more people. There are also support groups for various types of people. Of course, let’s not forget the loving company of our own friends whom we can ask for support from. However, are all of these enough to combat the stressors they face at home?
Belonging to a hostile or supportive household is a huge factor in determining the overall mental health of LGBTQ+ individuals. Even though the media shows the progress and representation of LGBTQ+, studies show accounts of multiple participants belonging to families that are unsupportive of their sexual identities. Even those who have ‘come out to their parents have struggled to address it after the event, and they continue to face adverse psychological effects because of it. Also, there have been massive complaints about the expression of their identity. Transgender individuals continue to face verbal and physical assaults from family members during this lockdown. In an attempt to conform and avoid family tension, LGBTQ+ individuals conceal much of their identity and thus face psychological consequences for continuing to do so. Mind you, some countries have lockdowns longer than 8 months! Concealing one’s identity for that long is not an easy feat.
Trying to get through this lockdown collectively is a massive hurdle for the community. Studies have proven the risk of depressive and anxiety symptoms in LGBTQ+ individuals, and their mental health and well-being amidst the lockdown is also a concerning issue. This might be an issue that will not pique your concern, but in these trying times, every help matters.
Question: What can we do to help?
Realize that every other individual in this world is just as much of a human as you are. And as humans, we all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. If you’re a sibling of an LGBTQ+ individual, be present for them. If you’re a friend, be there for them. If you’re a parent, be loving for them. Because ultimately, love is the answer.
Houghton, M., & Tasker, F. (2020). LGBTQ* UK COVID-19 Lockdown 18-35 Experiences First Survey (4 June to 6 August 2020) Preliminary Results. Working Paper. Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck. Birkbeck University of London. Released 18. ix. 20.
Houghton, M., & Tasker, F. (2021). LGBTQ* UK COVID-19 experiences: Preliminary results of the second survey. Released 20.iii.2021. Working Paper. Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London.
Jaspal, R. (2021). Identity threat and coping among British South Asian gay men during the COVID-19 lockdown. Sexuality & Culture 25, 1428–1446 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-021-09817-w
Mohanty, S. S., & Geeta, M. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on LGBTQ Immigrants (with special focus on Indo-American LGBTQ community).
Priyadarshini, S., & Swain, S. C. (2021). Queers in quarantines: Impact of lockdown and social distancing on psychology of Transgender. Journal of The Institution of Engineers (India): Series B, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40031-021-00586-6