COVID-19, Queer Homelessness, and At-Risk Home Environments

Almost all of the United States have upheld the government’s plea to remain isolated in their homes as a result of the worldwide pandemic, COVID-19. However, while some simply remain within the plush confines of their home, only mildly inconvenienced by bustling grocery stores and the closing of commonly frequented shops and restaurants, many are suffering as a result of mandated isolation. According to NBC News, France has recently reported a 32% increase in domestic abuse, and many cities within the US have seen dramatic increases in the quantity of calls to domestic abuse hotlines.

Although this may seem to be a universal effect of the current living situation, it impacts some communities more than others. According to a 2010 survey done by the CDC, sexual minorities reported equal or higher amounts of abuse from their intimate partners than heterosexual couples. Bisexual women in particular have reported the highest number of cases in comparison to their LGBTQ+ counterparts. So, as a result of the stay at home order, LGBTQ+ people are forced to remain in their homes with hostile partners. In addition, according to the Trevor Project, suicide hotlines are receiving a rapidly increasing number of calls from LGBTQ+ youth, despite their already high numbers in calls due to unemployment levels within the community as well as unstable housing. As a result of the stay-at-home order, many LGBTQ+ youth are forced to endure in homes that remain hostile to their identity. Consequently, numbers of LGBTQ+ youth experiencing dangerous bouts with their mental health is said to escalate even more due to the current situation. The social isolation that is already imposed on LGBTQ+ youth is only further intensified by the cancelation or postponement of therapy sessions and support groups. Most LGBTQ+ youth found these to be necessary outlets beyond the confines of potentially abusive living situations. This lack of regular supportive contact has had a drastic effect on LGBTQ+ youth and their collective mental health.

In addition to issues occurring within homes, the homeless population of the LGBTQ+ community are experiencing the COVID-19 crisis to an equal if not greater extent than those who are able to at least confine themselves to a corner of their respective homes. According to NBC news, 45% of the homeless population of ages 18-25 identify within the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth are 2.2 times more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. Those LGBTQ+ who are currently living on the streets as a result of unaccepting families or personal battles with mental health are already subject to a barrage of insults and targeted violence. In the time of stay-at-home orders, many LGBTQ+ youth frankly have no home to stay in. Hence, that particular population of LGBTQ+ youth are more often exposed to the virus and, in turn, are more likely to pass from its effects. In addition, their financial status bars them from receiving necessary medical attention in response to a virus that so desperately requires complicated and expensive treatment from healthcare professionals. Not only are these homeless queer people without access to medical care, but they are also experiencing limited access to those products that assist in preventing the disease such as wipes, tissues, soaps, and hand sanitizers. Limited access to such products especially affects those who are homeless in urban areas such as Newark and Jersey City, where the virus can so easily be transmitted from person to person. Finally, already inadequate access to food and drink is further accentuated by the grocery store shelves that have been stripped dry by the more fortunate populations, in an attempt to maintain their previous lifestyles. On top of shortages, grocery stores have taken this time of frenzied buying to double or even triple the prices on common food items. Hence, those who are financially unstable are often unable to obtain sustenance of any kind.

However, there are some ways that you can help those in need. Take this time of boredom to create something good for those who are in need. Donate food to your local shelter or place of worship to be given out to the increasing population of unemployed workers in the United States, or learn how to make masks for our essential workers. Even making masks for the urban populations of homeless people can be extremely beneficial to those who are constantly exposed to the virus. If you, a family member, or a friend have been experiencing potentially dangerous thoughts as a result of unsupportive members of your household, do not hesitate to call the Trevor Project hotline which purely exists to assist LGBTQ+ youth in their times of need. The hotline is available 24/7 and has increased the number of volunteers working every hour. Please stay safe and stay healthy.

Trevor Project Number: 1-866-488-7386

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