CLEVELAND — New research shows the pandemic is taking a toll on the LGBTQ+ community.
Scott Emory Moore with Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and his research partner Kelly Wierenga from the University of Indiana School of Nursing reached out to more than 1,300 people over several months last year. Moore says they found the isolation of the pandemic caused spikes in anxiety and depression for sexual or gender minorities (SGM).
"This chosen family, or family of choice as we often call it, is a bedrock and foundation for the social support that many sex and gender minority individuals use to manage in non-pandemic times," Moore said.
The aftermath lines up with symptoms the LGBT Center of Cleveland has been seeing this past year. The center’s Director of Programs, Gulnar Feerasta says those concerning symptoms are particularly prevalent among older members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Not everybody has access to technology, not everybody has access to smart devices or even the internet to be able to connect with the center in this world of virtual programming," he said.
Feerasta says this community can face a higher risk of contracting the virus because of disparities in health care, especially gender-affirming health care that may leave them more vulnerable to underlying conditions.
"A lot of people have a lot of traumatic experiences just going to the doctor because of the way they're treated, they might be misgendered, they might be, what we call dead-named, where the former name is used instead of their chosen name."
Moore also noted the research team was working with a largely white group of participants and that race and ethnicity come with their own stressors and barriers.
"If it's this bad for white, CIS individuals, how might it be for people who are people of color, and who identify as SGM individuals?" said Moore
The LGBT Center of Cleveland has a program for volunteers to reach out and call those most isolated individuals who can't access services virtually. You can learn more about its programs and volunteer opportunities here.