How LGBTQ+ people across the world have been affected by coronavirus

By Louis Staples

The coronavirus crisis is having a profound impact on how we​ live our lives. Across the world, many people are adjusting to a state of hyper-vigilance in the face of Covid-19.

But for LGBTQ+ people navigating life in countries where acceptance is rare and hostility is rife, hyper-vigilance has long been a part of everyday life. Over the course of the crisis, we’ve already seen how anti-LGBT+ governments, such as in Hungary, have used the pandemic to seize more power. Brazil and Africa, where there’s no shortage of leaders who oppose LGBTQ+ equality, are predicted to be the next global hotspots of the pandemic. The future is anything but certain.

The experiences of LGBTQ+ people of the Covid-19 pandemic vary immensely. Some have been forced to return to families who don't accept them, whereas others have even had to put their medical transitions on hold. For many, the painful memories of the HIV/AIDS pandemic are now impossible​ to ignore​.

So there’s never been a better time to break the silence, which is the theme of 2020’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) .

To mark IDAHOBIT, members of global LGBTQ+ love and equality movement All Out have shared their experiences of the global health crisis. Members from across the world have provided us with testimony that is sometimes painful, sometimes full of hope, but always a direct and honest view of queer life in an era of coronavirus.

“I’m isolating with my father, who has no respect for me"

Mara, Italy.

The greatest anxiety is not having to stay at home, but staying in a house that I don't love, in a town that I don't love, and the ambulance sirens blaring right outside my house. The greatest burden is having to share this house with my parents, not so much for my mother, but certainly it is very hard having to put up with my father. A father who has no respect for me and shows it as soon as he gets the chance.

“I lost my husband and now I’m alone”

David, USA.

My husband William of 21 years, we were officially married for 8 of those years. He was very concerned about this virus and catching it.

One day he wasn't feeling well and called his doctor who told him he needed to get tested for Covid-19. William went to the local Urgent Care got tested and waited, after 4 days they still didn't have the results, after 8 days still no results.

Tuesday, 7 April started like any other day but a little after 1pm William had a heart attack and died. It took the medical examiner a day and a half to get the results and it turned out William had the virus. Covid-19, his diabetes, high blood pressure, and stress turned out to be a deadly combination.

Now I'm alone and self-isolating, between family on both sides and friends I don't know how I would get through this.

“It is a difficult path”

Lizzy, Mexico

Covid-19 affected my partner and I in our plans for this year. We were planning to take all the necessary steps for his sex change, since all his life he has felt uncomfortable with it.

Last year he finally accepted himself completely as a man and after several efforts and therapy he was encouraged to do what he's been wanting to do all his life.

With this virus our plans were postponed and I feel that his fears are attacking him. It is a difficult path but I think we are handling it well and with much love and acceptance.

“Covid-19 has put my transition on hold”

Rian, USA

I was finishing my last semester of college, about to graduate, when I heard travel restrictions were getting heavier, and I lost my job.With no income, I would graduate and suddenly be homeless, because I grew up in Australia.

I had planned to live with my friend and my cat in an apartment in Inwood, NY, but I was begged to get on a flight back to Australia by my parents.

It is much safer here, as the virus is much more controlled. But I'm trans and started hormones in the US, saw my therapist in the US, had my regular doctor in the US. In Australia, I'm running low on testosterone and needles. I'm unable to restock yet, because I need to be assessed by a gender therapist here, see a general psychologist, and I need to see a psychiatrist to get my general medication.

"Covid-19 is playing havoc with my mental health"

Michael, UK

I'm an actor who graduated from drama school at the age of 41, a little later in life than most actors. My husband and I have been together for 31 years, marrying in 2006.

My hubby and I had a cough about five weeks ago, and I had one day of feeling very achy. The next day the aches had gone, and we both had a very intermittent dry cough. We self-isolated for fourteen days and luckily, our very mild symptoms eventually went after a week.

We are both in our mid-fifties and are young in our outlook on life and the way we live it to an extent, but the pandemic has resulted in having small anxiety attacks since the lockdown. It has made me even more OCD with cleaning, in some ways. David works in a pharmacy lab in a large hospital in London, and went back to work, and since then I have worried daily about him having to travel on trains, the overground and underground, and I can imagine that there are many others who feel the same worry.

“My dad makes very misogynistic and homophobic comments”

Anonymous, Me​xico

I'm Cornett, a 15-year-old lesbian girl. I live with my parents and my three sisters. The truth is that things are going well around here, although I have to admit that having a lot of homework is very overwhelming and sometimes I don't do it (I haven't done it in three weeks).

There are days when I fight with my family, especially my father, about my thinking and, of course, about my sexuality. He does make some very misogynistic and homophobic comments. I'm out of the closet, so yes, he does make those comments intentionally, but I don't let him ruin my days.

I hope you all feel good and are staying in your little houses. Your friend Cornett sends you good vibes.

"People don’t respect my pronouns”

Yazmín, Argentina

I have been lucky enough not to be surrounded by bad people in this quarantine. What is affecting me is that I am still not respected with my pronouns in my house and I cannot be with the people who do respect me for who I am.

“My parents don’t accept that I’m trans”

Alejandro, Mexico

I'm a 15-year-old trans boy. Since Covid-19 started and we were quarantined, I have had to learn to deal with and endure insults, beatings and criticism from my parents. They don't accept the fact that I'm trans.

Every day and night it's the same: crying, anxiety attacks, asking for this martyrdom to end. Honestly, it's a hard thing to go through, but it does teach me a lesson after all: I am strong and I can fight, I can resist and keep going in spite of everything, it is only a ‘test’ that I will manage to pass and then this will be not more than a bad memory.

"Don’t despair”

Justine, France

Because of the pandemic, I've been separated from my girlfriend for two months. We contact each other regularly, but I miss having her next to me.

Yet I don't despair. I know I will see her when the lockdown is lifted. Plus, she's planning to come out to her parents after the lockdown. It's a moment that scares her, but it's a moment she really needs. And I'm proud of her because she's taking the courage to be herself with her family.

I also plan to invite her to see my parents after the lockdown. My parents know I'm a lesbian and they accept me the way I am. No one can imagine how reassuring it is for a child to have their parents by their side when they realise they are gay. I'm happy, I'm free to be myself, and I know that one day my girlfriend will be too.

I want to send a message of hope and positivity to the young LGBTQ+ people who read my message, and who, perhaps, have just discovered themselves. Know that being yourself is the most beautiful thing that life can offer you. It is hard to love in this world for people like us. But, I assure you, it's worth it! And even if you're scared, even if you're lonely, I promise you, someday you'll be happy.

How can you help LGBTQ+ people right now?

This is a very difficult time for charities and non-profits, which are a lifeline for LGBTQ+ people across the world. A great way to support people is to donate, if you’re able to.

All Out is making a call for donations to support a dedicated emergency fund to protect and support LGBTQ+ people around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Donations go directly into rapid response grants for frontline LGBTQ+ organisations who are running out of funds for urgent, life-saving support to LGBTQ+ people during this crisis.

Donate now:

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