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The Unique Concerns of the LGBTQ Community

04 Apr Posted by in Jan Miller Corran | Comments Off on The Unique Concerns of the LGBTQ Community
The Unique Concerns of the LGBTQ  Community

We are currently experiencing a frightening time in the world as a pandemic has brought our lives and livelihoods to a screeching halt. I wanted to share a letter from the GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality. There are unique concerns for the LGBTQ community.

Established in 1981, the GLMA has been on the forefront of the fight for the LGBTQ community to receive equal health treatment and protections as the general population. One very important part of the GLMA is the Lesbian Health Fund which was founded in 1992. Since its inception nearly $1M has gone towards lesbian health research and advocacy. Studies around lesbian domestic abuse, substance abuse, mental health issues and other important issues continue to be examined. I specifically mention these groups because in a time when health care is literally a survival of the fittest issue, having this organization monitor and fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community to receive the same interventions as the rest of the world is extremely important.

On March 11, 2020, GLMA, the National Cancer Network and over 100 LGBTQ and ally organizations released an open letter on COVID-19 and the LGBTQ community.

Our increased vulnerability is a direct result of three factors:

  1. The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population.
  2.  COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
  3. The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
  4. LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then.

In addition, there are more than 3 million LGBTQ+ older people living in the United States. LGBTQ+ elders are already less likely than their heterosexual and cisgender peers to reach out to health and aging providers, like senior centers, meal programs, and other programs designed to ensure their health and wellness, because they fear discrimination and harassment. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older people – the current mortality rate is at 15% for this population – makes this a huge issue for the LGBTQ+ communities as well.

I do want to end on a positive note.  As we sit in our homes there is also a resurgence of caring and kindness towards others that has been missing in the past few years. We are trying to support each other as much as we can. Whether you are glued to your TV watching all those lesbian films you missed (the filmmaking community thanks you) or taking a bag of groceries to an elder who can’t nor shouldn’t be shopping,  you are exhibiting what the LGBTQ community does best… CARING and SHARING. Yes, the film festivals will one day be back, the Dinah will return, and life will return to “normal.

This moment in history will pass to become a chapter in a textbook one day. There will be many stories to tell of survival and loss. Chapter title might be “How I Survived COVID-19 on Only One Case of Toilet Paper”.  And, yes, when it is over, I hope we are akin to that last scene in Longtime Companion when friends imagine the end of the AIDS crisis and imagine friends lost running to them and hugging on the beach.  And we remain a kinder and more caring people. All of us.

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