More than ever, in June 2020, support LGBT+ communities by celebrating Pride.
Oh, so you thought that you would not have the opportunity to participate in Pride? Quite the contrary, there are too many reasons to make this year’s festivities the loudest and proudest ever! Pride 2020 is here, and we will celebrate regardless of the pandemic.
The coronavirus global pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on the daily lives of many. However, individuals from disadvantaged groups are often more affected by such crises. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT+) persons and communities are now facing unexpected challenges. But even in a pandemic, we still can create global pride to support and fight for LGBT+ rights, worldwide.
The coronavirus did not kill homophobia, discrimination, and violence around the world towards this marginalized community. Social injustice is still a problem that we can resolve together to make all LGBT+ people facing challenges feel supported and validated. Those suffering from violence, discrimination, and health issues should know that we have their backs and can prove it!
In this article, I will shed some light on current issues and global challenges that the LGBT+ community faces daily. I also want to show you how to celebrate, demonstrate, and get support to make this Pride month count.
LGBT+ challenges during a pandemic
Social isolation and depression
Globally, LGBT+ people are more likely to be socially isolated. In countries where LGBTphobia is strongly present, existing communities and groups provide essential support for LGBT+ individuals’ mental well-being. For some people, those groups are the only place where they feel safe, listened to, and accepted. During the pandemic, mandatory self-isolation might cause individuals to not be able to interact with their supportive community.
LGBT+ individuals are less likely to have children or broad family social networks. Which means that they get less support in moments of crisis. History shows that the LGBT+ population is more at risk for mental health issues, combined with higher rates of smoking, alcohol, drug use, and dependency. Lack of access to community, face-to-face support, and disruption of regular routines can make these issues worse.
Violence and domestic abuse
It is no secret that being LGBT+ today is still an issue in many regions and within numerous social groups. Young individuals living with LGBTphobic family members can only hope and pray that they will accept them. This problem transcends age. Many adults face discrimination all the time, but continue to stay with LGBTphobic parents or abusive partners for different reasons.
As governments put COVID-19 safety measures in place, vulnerable groups became negatively affected. Different NGOs and hotlines recorded a rise in domestic abuse. But we must understand that some people can’t even reach out for help! They can’t call hotlines or get consultations because of difficult living situations.
Risk factors for contracting COVID-19
There is no hard evidence to suggest that LGBT+ individuals are inherently more likely to contract COVID-19. Still, several factors exist, resulting in people from LGBT+ communities being more at risk of infection than the general population.
These include the following circumstances:
- LGBT+ people are more likely to smoke. Smoking has been linked as a ‘highly likely’ factor in the increased risk of coronavirus pneumonia;
- LGBT+ communities are disproportionately impacted by HIV in many countries throughout the world. Having HIV itself does not put people at a higher risk. HIV positive individuals receiving HIV treatments, with a good CD4 count and an undetectable viral load, do not have a weakened immune system. And therefore, they should not be at an elevated risk of contracting COVID-19. But, for individuals with limited or no access to the right treatments, a compromised immune system is more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19. This also affects people living with HIV who do not know their status or are not getting treatment;
- An LGBT+ person may be more reluctant to access healthcare due to fears of encountering LGBTphobia. This may cause people with COVID-19 symptoms to avoid advice or care;
- LGBT+ individuals are more likely to be homeless, meaning that many are unable to self-isolate effectively and may not have what they need if they do fall ill;
- LGBT+ sex workers are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. As a group, they experience social exclusion, low income, unemployment, health problems, housing problems, or lack of social support.
Access to healthcare
COVID-19 safety measures often mean that sexual health drop-ins/clinics are unavailable. At times, this is the only place where LGBT+ people feel safe accessing healthcare, and maybe the only place they can afford.
Also, there has been significant misinformation about preventive HIV medicine (PrEP) and the coronavirus, which caused some people to stop taking PrEP. For many, the restrictions made getting their usual PrEP source or prescription impossible. Trans and non-binary individuals reported being denied access to prescribed and scheduled hormone injections, as these were deemed non-essential.
This section is heavily based on the LGBT Foundation article and report.
Other important reasons to celebrate Pride 2020
Need more reasons to celebrate this year? Apart from all the above, Pride 2020 is also exceptional for other reasons. We are mourning Larry Kramer, Playwright, and outspoken AIDS Activist, who died just a few days ago on May 27, at the tender age of 84. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the first gay rights march in NYC on June 28, 1970. The NYC march came one year after the Stonewall Uprising, which marked a sharp turning point in the fight for LGBT+ rights. This month, the whole world is celebrating 30 years since homosexuality was declassified as a disease. (Yeah, only 30 years!)
Every year a tremendous amount of people around the world are still suffering from attacks or discrimination. They could even be killed only because of their sexual preferences. Today, it is still illegal to be LGBT+ in 70 countries, and the death penalty is a punishment for homosexuality in 12 countries. And young people are even being chased from their homes and ending up on the streets.
Pride helps raise awareness, break down stereotypes, and bring confidence to LGBT+ youths. For many people isolated around the world, Pride month is the only time they feel supported, validated, and accepted. Making them feel like they belong and giving them a sense of community. We will not allow the coronavirus to make them feel forgotten!
Support in creative ways
With hundreds of marches and events canceled or postponed, we can’t use the streets to demonstrate and shake our booties. But, luckily, there are many other ways individuals and companies can show support this year.
Online tools allow you to reach and inspire beyond your direct surroundings. Today it is easy to be extremely visible and make a statement online thanks to social media and other platforms. Let’s use this as an opportunity to empower LGBT+ communities, fight discrimination, and promote acceptance!
Today, we live in a world where numerous events can happen entirely online! Thanks to online tools such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and live feeds, it is possible to do many things without going outside. We can have a party with hundreds of people or hold a conference by creating podcasts. The options are endless, and it’s time for us to be creative and find new ways of celebrating together! Many events have already started. The most important date to save is June 27 — Official World Pride day 2020 (Save the date). All World Pride organizations are coming together to create a global digital Pride with performances and talks.
We know digital tools won’t overcome the need for real-life interactions. In places where it is possible, do not “skip” pride 2020, instead transform it. Get together and celebrate in small groups, play games, and invite friends to talk about their LGBT+ experiences and perspectives. You can also use this month to reflect on the topic, on yourself, maybe create a personal journal, a project, or bake a colorful cake! Digital tools can help you share in a small gathering or your own project, this will spread awareness about issues.
What we wear says a lot about who we are, and clothes are an easy way to make a statement. So this month, use the opportunity to show your difference a little more than usual, or simply support the LGBT+.
Wear statements, print t-shirts, place a board or sticker in a visible place in front of your house or in your car. There are many creative ways to stand out and make a point.
This year, most marches are canceled, we won’t party together, this also means we won’t spend money on clubs, drinks, costumes, etc. It’s sad, I know! Companies won’t throw expensive parties, create promotional materials, and produce branded items with pride colors. So, here is an excellent opportunity and a great mental model to rechannel this into financial support for LGBT+ communities and individuals. In this way, we can have a positive impact worldwide.
Many foundations are financially helping LGBT+ communities in this time of crisis, and the rest of the year. We have created a glossary that you can see here:
Pride at Star
At Star, we are fully committed to supporting LGBT+ rights and we are celebrating this pride month digitally across our 15 offices. We are ready with services and tools to support LGBT+ projects and initiatives. Feel free to reach out and start a discussion with us.