Half of LGBTQ+ Americans say social distancing negatively impacts their mental wellbeing – a 20% increase over the total population

March 11, 2021
  • 53% of LGBTQ+ adults say that social distancing and stay-at-home orders negatively impact their mental wellbeing.
  • 29% don’t feel a part of the overarching LGBTQ+ community.
  • 38% feel that they can be themselves around their family; 48% feel they can be who they really are with friends.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Americans to varying degrees, amplifying and exacerbating the struggles of traditionally marginalized communities, and the LGBTQ+ community is no exception. New research from Mintel, the experts in what consumers want and why, reveals that pandemic restrictions have intensified a sense of isolation felt by many LGBTQ+ consumers. Over half (53%) of LGBTQ+ adults say social distancing and stay-at-home orders negatively impact their mental wellbeing, compared to 44% of the wider population. Almost three-fifths (64%) of Americans feel they have an emotional support system in place during lockdowns, dropping to 58% of LGBTQ+ adults.

But the concerns aren’t limited to mental health. As many as 36% of LGBTQ+ consumers feel less financially stable now compared to last year, versus 29% of Americans overall. Three in 10 (30%) LGBTQ+ consumers are worried about healthcare costs, compared to 24% amongst the population as a whole.

Lisa Dubina, Senior Culture and Identity Analyst, Mintel said:

“Following a traumatic year marked by a global pandemic, economic struggle, and political divisiveness, the LGBTQ+ population is in a unique and unsteady position at the start of 2021. LGBTQ+ Americans have been notably vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects; they are more likely to have lost their job, be struggling financially, and feel their mental wellbeing has been negatively impacted by the events of 2020. Despite these struggles, LGBTQ+ communities still flourished this past year, achieving new levels of representation and inclusion. Looking to the year ahead, LGBTQ+ adults say that protecting and enhancing LGBTQ+ rights, as well as expanding the community’s intersectional outlook are top of mind for the overall community.”

LGBTQ+ community falls short on inclusivity, but there is still cause for celebration

Because the LGBTQ+ community represents love and acceptance across different identities, many people can forget or overlook the fact that like all communities, the LGBTQ+ community has its own internal struggles, including instances of racism, sexism, and even transphobia. Mintel research reveals that 29% of LGBTQ+ Americans do not feel a part of the overarching LGBTQ+ community.

“Many LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have been striving for more inclusivity and intersectionality over the past few years, but some individuals still feel unseen and unheard. In June 2020, when Pride month intersected with nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations, many in the LGBTQ+ community were also forced to address the intersectionality of their work and recognize where previous advocacy efforts failed to be racially inclusive,” continued Dubina.

But despite this, and in the face of a global pandemic, 2020 saw groundbreaking representation for the LGBTQ+ community through the launch and success of several pop culture hits such as “Schitt’s Creek,” “Happiest Season,” and Lady Gaga’s album, “Chromatica.”

“The mainstream success of the TV show “Schitt’s Creek” and Hulu’s LGBTQ+ holiday hit “Happiest Season” not only demonstrates how acceptance and normalization of LGBTQ+ identities is growing by leaps and bounds, but also the resilience and creativity of global LGBTQ+ communities. Even in times of struggle, the need for authenticity, acceptance, and self-love found a way to flourish and connect people across the globe,” Dubina went on to say.

Relying on their chosen family

Finally, Mintel research reveals the importance of friends and chosen family for those in the LGBTQ+ community. While just a third (33%) of LGBTQ+ adults feel welcome among their biological family, this rises to 42% when they are amongst friends. A quarter (25%) believe they have shared interests with their family, but nearly double that (46%) feel the same about their friends. And while just 38% feel that they can be themselves around their family, nearly half (48%) feel they can be their authentic selves with friends.

“For brands looking to engage with LGBTQ+ communities, it’s important to appeal to the consumer group’s need to feel empowered and able to express themselves authentically. By understanding what drives their behavior and motivates them, brands can better appeal to LGBTQ+ consumer segments with efforts that are intersectional and specific to LGBTQ+ consumers’ needs.

“Companies that serve LGBTQ+ consumer segments and/or feel that supporting LGBTQ+ communities aligns with their brand values have the opportunity to play a role in defending LGBTQ+ rights. Over the past four years, the divisiveness of political and ethical divisions has damaged American’s trust in government organizations, leaving the business sector as one institution that consumers perceive to be ethical and a source of positive change. Consumers are looking to brands and business leaders more than ever before to fix national problems and defend consumer rights,” Dubina concluded.

*For the purposes of this research, Mintel uses the following definition: LGBTQ+ is an acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or other identification.”

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