As most of the world remains sheltered at home, LGBTQ youth are arguably among the more vulnerable segments of the population to the prolonged quarantine period.
Cut off from the support networks they formed outside of the home and forced back into space they may not consider safe, it is not surprising that there have been incidences of increased stress and anxiety among the LGBTQ youth.
The LGBTQ Youth During The Pandemic
A nonprofit organization for LGBTQ youth released a report in April 2020 outlining the severe ramifications of COVID-19 on the mental well-being of the demographic.
According to a study, even before the pandemic hit, LGBTQ youth already faced significant risk for depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidality. With schools and other communal spaces closed, the pandemic has made LGBTQ youth all the more vulnerable to the mental toll since access to positive social interactions diminishes while negative social interactions rise.
What do we mean by this? Although the experience is certainly not universal, a number of LGBTQ youth have been experiencing a lack of support from networks they formed in school or their communities as they take refuge in what may be an unsupportive environment at home.
Research suggests that only a third of LGBTQ youth experience parental acceptance of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In the LGBTQ population, one-third experiences parental rejection while the remaining one-third opts to stay quiet about their identity until they are adults.
LGBTQ youth also report higher rates of sexual, psychological, and physical abuse compared to their straight or cisgender peers, and intimate partner violence is even more pronounced in the LGBTQ community, according to a study, pointing to the serious threat of some confined environments.
The quarantine protocol ordering people to stay at home is threatening for the LGBTQ youth with unsupportive families. To be in an environment where they feel invalidated and unsafe, for a long time, may cause them to feel isolated from others.
Additionally, the unpredictability of the pandemic may feel like an endless tribulation for them. Up to this point, it’s still unsure as to when this pandemic will end. The members of the LGBT youth also feel terrified that their families might find out.
It is undoubtedly a painful and lonely experience for LGBTQ youth who can are prone to self-destructive actions without the support and medical assistance they need to get through this health crisis. Fortunately, there are several available resources and support groups to help one get through the other side of this crisis in a stable mental place.
Connect With An Online Community
For LGBTQ youth, one’s chosen family sometimes plays a more significant role than one’s biological family. Forging and maintaining positive social connections outside of the home are healthy ways to ease the mental pressures of the pandemic.
The good news is there is no need to look far! Just as there are many shades in the rainbow, there are only as many LGBTQ groups on various social media platforms where young individuals can get the support, validation, and acceptance they need. There are state-based and community-based groups on Facebook that one can look up to air concerns, unload, and feel a sense of belonging.
Beyond online support groups, LGBTQ youth can cope with pandemic-induced stress and anxiety partially brought about by cabin fever in many ways.
- Avoid a judgemental attitude.
- Secure strong connections with supportive individuals.
- Go on a digital detox.
- Create a schedule of daily activities.
- Read reliable sources to understand your rights further.
- Do projects that keep your nerves calm.
- Step out once in a while for a dose of fresh air.
- Feel free to seek help.
Getting The Help You Need
As the pandemic takes its toll, health providers have accelerated the shift online through telehealth services. LGBTQ youth experiencing anxiety can reach out to various telehealth providers through video calls, messaging apps, and hotlines. For instance, they offer 24/7 support to LGBTQ youth in crisis through text and chat.
When worst comes to worst, there are specific organizations that offer shelter services for LGBTQ youth seeking refuge. Ali Forney Center in New York is one such organization providing housing and support services to LGBTQ youth aged 16-24.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, there is a need to strengthen social bonds while keeping apart. Being one of the more vulnerable demographics even before the pandemic took hold, the LGBTQ youth need all the help and support they need to get through and beyond this crisis.
When homes are not the safe spaces they ought to be, communities should step up and fill the gap. Only then can we build back better.
June is practically like December for the members of the LGBTQ+ community. You see, this is the month when we celebrate Pride. We remember the colorful individuals who have given their lives the ensure that no one will get prosecuted again for being gay. In almost every major city around the globe, we come together and hold massive parades and concerts to celebrate, well, ourselves.
Every year, I join the New York parade with all my friends, whether they are members of the third sex or not. That’s the beauty of Pride—it welcomes everyone who wants to spread joy and love. You can wear whatever you want, dance however you want, and people will support you for it.
The month of June is still a month away at the time of writing this blog, but the entire world seems to be somewhat frozen. Only a few people can leave the house; even business owners cannot open their establishments unless they sell food and other essentials. Here’s what it means for the 2020 Pride celebration.
The Bad News
When the actual Gay Pride rolls in, the quarantine regulations may have eased significantly by then. Various governors are already thinking of doing that in the coming weeks to keep the economy from crashing. Pharmaceutical companies are also close to starting their clinical trials for the new vaccines that may save people from COVID-19.
The problem, however, is that mass gathering may not be allowed until the end of the year or early next year. It is still too risky to insist on doing so, especially since no one can see the coronavirus. A person can transmit it to others unintentionally, and then another wave of pandemic takes place. Thus, there will be no parades in 2020 to celebrate Pride.
The Good News
Despite the lack of events on the streets, the gay community will undoubtedly not let a year pass without commemorating Pride in some way. What the leaders of different LGBT organizations have agreed on is to do everything online.
On the 27th of June, they will be streaming musical numbers every hour. Some well-known members and supporters of the gay community will also be doing speeches in between performances. All the performers and guest speakers will be safe because they will perform in their own homes.
A unique thing about this occasion—aside from the fact that it occurs on the Stonewall anniversary—is that it will be a worldwide effort. The organizations in Oceania, North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe are teaming up to make this 24-hour streaming possible. They even intend to feature performances from every participating country, which makes this celebration more united than ever.
Of course, no one feels happy about being unable to parade around the city. That’s what we have all been doing in the last 50 years. It is already part of the culture.
However, we happen to know very well that prohibiting mass gatherings is for the greater good. As much as we want to party on the streets, we surely don’t want to test positive for COVID-19 a few days later. Especially in the United States, there are hundreds of thousands of infected people, and it may increase exponentially if we don’t follow the government’s orders.
It is indeed saddening to realize that the major cities around the world will not be filled with colors in June this year. Everyone will most likely be at home, watching the festivities in various countries, wishing that you can go there.
Still, we should all be glad that there is at least a streaming party on Pride Day. That’s the best we can do right now, given the current circumstances. Once the pandemic is over, though, I have every reason to believe that the next celebration will be bigger and brighter than you can ever imagine.
Resources for LGBTQ Youth
The LGBTQ community is already a marginalized demographic. But the stress, stigma, and harassment are even worse for younger people within the community, than let’s say, the stigma of growing up without parents and in an institution such as here. In fact, in LGBTQ individuals from the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is one of the leading causes of death. LGBTQ youth are also twice as more likely to be physically assaulted in some way for their sexuality or gender identity. Fortunately, this vulnerable demographic has many resources to give individuals love, support, and opportunities to succeed. Here are some of the most helpful and well-known resources for LGBTQ youth: