For LGBTQ+ people, the pandemic’s challenges can be even more pressing and serious, especially if they have tricky family situations or face other challenges
The ongoing pandemic has been tricky for most of us. Everyone has had to make compromises to protect themselves, their loved ones and other people. Everyone has faced upheaval in their daily lives, suffered separation from loved ones, tackled social isolation and experienced deteriorating mental health. It’s a very tough time. But for LGBTQ+ people, these challenges can be more pressing and serious, especially when their identity intersects with poverty.
For me, the pandemic meant leaving my life and home to move in with family for many months. I’m a young adult who has not lived at home full-time for five years, so moving back home was not a decision I took lightly. In fact, I had no choice.
Back in my family home with no choice
My accommodation closed when the national lockdown was announced. This meant I had no option but to turn to my parents. At the drop of a hat, I left my friends, partner and support network to move into my parents’ home. I’ve lived independently for years, with my own life and values which I love, so living for an extended period with my parents is difficult. Common family issues of conflicting opinions, lifestyles and needs were magnified: I am not out to my parents, and possibly never can be. I felt isolated from my support network and without many people to turn to, my mental health suffered.
For LGBTQ+ people who are out to their family, moving home can be just as difficult. Many people have family who do not accept their identity, and some may even face violence. In these situations, small disagreements can explode into bigger and sometimes dangerous situations.
In my case, after six months at home, lots of different events came together to create an environment where I did not feel safe or happy. I left, staying with other family members before eventually moving back to my city and finding a new place to live.
Finding new support and community
I quickly settled back into my life – well, a new, pandemic-shaped version of it – and found opportunities to reconnect with my friends and spend lots of time with my partner. Being back in my supportive community was a relief. Community is a huge part of many LGBTQ+ folk’s lives. This is certainly true for me, particularly my community on a personal level – the people I have around me day to day.
My parents have very difficult views towards LGBTQ+ people to such an extent that I don’t feel able to come out to them. As a result, living at home and being physically separated from the people who accept me, love me and make me feel myself really put a toll on my identity, which in turn affected my motivation and happiness.
Community in a broader sense is a huge aspect of LGBTQ+ people’s lives too. In a world where LGBTQ+ people face discrimination and violence, community support and connection are vital to our health and wellbeing – to our existence. The pandemic has shut many of the community aspects which LGBTQ+ people depend on. Safe spaces such as cafes, bars and clubs have closed. In-person support groups have been suspended or moved online. Social and community events have stopped.
For me, the closure of social safe spaces has been very difficult – nightlife and community events been a huge part of LGBTQI+ culture and my life. As someone who has only been out to themselves and friends for 18 months, being without the opportunity to meet more LGBTQI+ people and explore my identity in the comfort of people who I can relate to has definitely been difficult.
Advice & reassurance for others who may be struggling
The past year has been very tough. But it will get better. Here are small pieces of advice which I hope might help if you’re struggling:
💛 Reconnect with the LGBTQI+ people in your life.
People are there to support you. They have your back! If you don’t have an LGBTQ+ group, reach out to people who you know are allies and you can talk to. Video calls, texting and gaming are all great ideas for staying in touch when you can’t meet face-to-face.
💛 Explore online groups and alternatives to in-person community
For example, London Friend has loads of online social groups for different groups within the community – take a look here. If you’re missing the clubs, Queer House Party have your back! They host online queer parties – a safe space and lots of fun. I went to their event with Young Barbican and had a really great time. Get your flatmates to join you!
💛 Explore LGBTQ+ resources online
This can help you feel connected to others in the community – why not try Fumble’s Sexuality and Gender resources on all things LGBTQ+, or gal-dem’s articles tagged “Queer” to hear the voices of queer women and non-binary people of colour.
💛 Counselling and support groups
Taking care of your mental health with an LGBTQI+ affirming service is a really positive step to take. Find support in your area with Stonewall’s search tool.
💛 Explore LGBTQI+ TV, films and podcasts
Fumble has put together a must-see list of films to watch for LGBT+ History Month – that’s a great place to start. Other suggestions include the L Word (00s drama series about gay women, set in Los Angeles) and It’s A Sin (new BBC show about love and friendship in the midst of the AIDS crisis, set in London in the 80s). You could also listen to the Pants podcast in which two stars of the L Word talk about their friendship and informally interview (usually queer) guests.
Discover Fumble’s pandemic support series
The pandemic has had a huge impact on all of our lives, and we’ve all struggled to understand and digest the changes that continue to happen all around us.
If you need more support right now, here are some of our favourite places to start.
- 6 Places To Find Mental Health Support In The Pandemic
- LGBTQ+ counselling services
- Youth Access, to find local counselling for young people aged 12-25
- The Mix, get support via 1-to-1 webchat, email or counselling
- NHS latest Coronavirus advice
- The government’s latest Coronavirus guidelines
- Latest shielding guidelines
- YoungMinds pandemic support
Last reviewed 24 February 2021
Image Credit: Gemma Chua-Tran via Unsplash