Magazine News & Features LGBTQ+ Lockdown Wellbeing Report 2021 | One Year On Coronavirus lockdowns have become a fact of life over the past twelve months. We have come to accept that every facet of our lives is subject to change, and last year, LGBT HERO quickly realised the potential harms this may cause to LGBTQ+ communities. In response, in April 2020 we surveyed over 2300 LGBTQ+ people to see how they were doing mentally physically and emotionally. Did they have access to safe housing? Were they depressed or anxious? Could they access medical care? The results were stark. Our survey found that huge numbers of LGBTQ+ people were experiencing mental health problems. 43% were depressed “very often” or “every day”. And 50% regularly felt anxious about the impact lockdown was having on their lives. Meanwhile, the young were experiencing an epidemic of loneliness, with 67% of under 18s saying they were lonely “very often” or “every day”. The harms were clear, and after twelve months in which some parts of the UK have always been in some form of lockdown, we decided it was once again time to take stock. And so, in March of 2021 we created the One Year On survey. This year we’ve amended some of the questions, and added some that reflect the new situation we find ourselves in: such as the vaccination drive, and long-term lack of community connection. For important markers of wellbeing, however, we’ve kept the questions the same, so as to make comparisons more easily. In total we had 2273 responses. About the results: PUBLISHED MAY 2021 It should be noted that these results were collected through social media adverts targeted to LGBTQ+ communities as best we could. This resulted in data that was not evenly collected from all parts of the community, especially with regard to age where respondents were mostly young. We are aware that representation from people over 65 years old and people from minority backgrounds, particularly Asian communities, are not as high as we would have liked. However, the results presented gives a good snapshot of how our community has been affected since COVID began. Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations KEY FINDINGS Worrying amounts of LGBTQ+ people have reported feeling suicidal or have attempted suicide during the past twelve months: 35% (one in three) of respondents reported feeling suicidal 6% reported a suicide attempt Trans and gender diverse people were three times as likely to attempt suicide in the last year than cis people (12% vs 4%) 46% (almost half) of under 25s have felt suicidal in the past year 14% of under 18s have attempted suicide in the past year, of these, 53% were trans or gender diverse The community's mental health remains fragile, though there are small signs of improvement versus last year's lockdown: 80% (four in five) LGBTQ+ people said that the latest lockdown had negatively affected their mental health Rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness all showed marginal downward trends over the same time last year 49% of LGBTQ+ people said the latest lockdown was harder than the first, versus 19% who thought the first was harder Connecting with other LGBTQ+ people has proven difficult or impossible for some, impacting their ability to express their identity: 14% of respondents said they had no contact with another LGBTQ+ person for over a month Only 17% of under 18s said they could express their sexual or gender identity all the time during lockdown 12% of respondents said they could never express their LGBTQ+ identity during lockdown Many LGBTQ+ people intend to get vaccinated with vaccine hesitancy being low. 82% of unvaccinated LGBTQ+ people indicated they would take the vaccine if offered Only 6% of LGBTQ+ people said they will not take the vaccine if offered to them Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations WHO TOOK THE SURVEY As with our first survey, the only criteria we required of respondents is that they were LGBTQ+ and lived in the UK. A total of 2,273 people took the survey across a period of approximately one month during March and April 2021. We asked: what is your age bracket? 36% said under 18 19% said 18-24 13% said 24-35 10% said 35-44 9% said 45-54 9% said 55-64 3% said 65+ We asked: what is your ethnic background? White (British/Irish/other): 92% Black (British/African/Caribbean): 3% Asian (South/East/Other): 3% Mixed Race: (1%) Other: 1% We asked: what is your gender identity? 46% said Male 33% said Female 1% said Bi-gender 1% said Agender 13% said Non-binary 6% said other We asked: is this the gender you were assigned at birth? 70% said Yes 27% said No 3% said Don’t know / want to say We asked: what is your sexual identity: 35% said Gay 16% said Lesbian 24% said Bisexual 4% said Asexual 8% said Pansexual 0.31% said Polysexual 4% said Questioning 8% said Other Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations SUICIDE One of the key questions we didn’t ask in the first survey was whether LGBTQ+ people had suicidal thoughts, or had attempted suicide. LGBTQ+ people are far more likely than the general population to experience suicidal ideation, and our data shows that suicidal thoughts have been worryingly prevalent among our community in the past year. 35% of respondents who answered the question said that they had felt suicidal in the past year, an enormously troubling figure. 6% also said that they had made a suicide attempt in the past twelve months. This figure may be higher as 10% of those who responded said they “don’t know or don’t want to say”. These feelings of suicide have largely been experienced by young people. 47% of 18-24 year olds reported feeling suicidal in the last year, by far the highest of any age group. Under 18s were also by far the most likely to report a suicide attempt:14% said they had in the past year. It’s long been known that trans people are a high risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. Our survey showed that trans and gender diverse people were three times as likely to have attempted suicide than their cis counterparts. 12% of trans and GD people reported a suicide attempt in the past year versus 4% of cis people. 14% of asexual people said they had attempted suicide in the past year, the highest of any sexual identity. These numbers are clearly very high, and the state of emergency was reflected from LGBTQ+ people in the comments who had been touched by suicide or suicidal thoughts. “I was unable to see my partner, and his mental health declined rapidly following the sudden death of his father. My partner took his own life unable to cope,” Ruiseart, 38 told us in the comments. “My mental health was never great, but lockdown last year and losing friends to COVID and suicide made it much worse. I live alone so found it really difficult. I've had to make calls to crisis lines due to urges to hurt myself. It never really felt like I left lockdown prior to Christmas, and in Scotland we were in a high tier anyway,” said Euan, 39. “I have gone from being relatively balanced, through depression, anxiety, anger and paranoia to a suicide attempt,” Tara told us. Jason, 17 presented us with a similar story. “I'm incredibly lonely,” he said.” I've relapsed back into self harm and self destructive behaviours, I end up in depressive episodes frequently and I'm having suicidal thoughts on the daily to be honest.” Some people have found it difficult to cope, but not necessarily as difficult as the last lockdown. “I've felt a lot more emotionally unstable these past 3 months,” Grey, 15 told us, “but I haven't contemplated suicide or self harmed like I did in the last one.” Others have had to relocate in order to seek closer support from family and friends. “The lockdown pushed me to the very edge of my mental capabilities,” Christopher, 32, told us. “I was living in a single room 'studio' flat, and not seeing anyone. I am enrolled on a full time, very intensive post-graduate degree and I found myself increasingly thinking about suicide.” Thankfully Christoper managed to find the change of circumstances he needed: “My tutor has recognised I am in no fit state to continue and I am suspending my studies. I have moved back to be closer to family and I am now with a local GP, awaiting a course of antidepressants. Amidst all of this, I got round to watching 'It's a Sin' and I have taken the decision to come out both to myself, and to others, as being gay.” Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations MENTAL HEALTH Our first lockdown survey last year showed the dramatic mental health consequences of lockdown measures for LGBTQ+ people. Drastically high rates of anxiety, depression, and loneliness were reported, especially among the young, on whom the largest mental health burden appeared to fall. During the first 2020 lockdown 79% of LGBTQ+ people said the lockdown had negatively affected their mental health. 43% of LGBTQ+ people said they were depressed “very often” or “every day”, 50% said they were anxious “very often” or “every day”, and for loneliness this figure was 56%. These figures were almost twice as high as they were pre-lockdown. So how have things changed this year? This time around we asked our respondents to respond only with regard to the most recent lockdown that started in January 2021. When asked whether the latest lockdown had negatively affected LGBTQ+ people’s mental health: 80% said Yes 20% said No This equates to a 1% increase in last year’s figures, not a significant change, but it shows that perceived harm hasn’t declined the longer lockdowns have continued. Some groups were more affected than others. Trans and gender diverse people were 13% more likely to say that lockdown negatively affected their mental health than cis people. 90% of questioning people said that lockdown was damaging, the highest of any sexual identity, Compared to 85% of bisexual people And 71% of gay people. As with last year’s figures, the young were far more likely to say that their mental health was impacted. 43% of those aged 65+ said that the latest lockdown was damaging, Compared to 90% of under 18s. Being away from those we love and cut off from our normal activities has been extremely difficult for queer people. “As someone estranged my friends are my biggest support network, and not being able to see them bar the occasional masked walk with one friend, or catching up over zoom calls, I've really struggled with my mental health worsening and feeling unsupported and/or unloved,” Elijah, 23 told us. But not everyone has had the same experience. A minority of people have enjoyed the reprieve from the pressures of normal life. “As an introvert I have found lockdown quite relaxing because I don’t have to be in social situations that can be tiring and cause some social anxiety,” Ashley, 32, told us. ”Now that I am returning to work and seeing family and friends I find interacting more stressful.” Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations DEPRESSION High rates of depression are already prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community, and in our 2020 lockdown survey we found that these rates had gone up further. This year we took stock again, asking our respondents how often they experienced depression during the latest national lockdown. In 2020, 43% of respondents said they were experiencing depression “every day” or “very often”. When asked about the latest lockdown, this figure was 38%, a 5% decrease. However, this is still significantly higher than the figures people self-reported before March 2020 (24%) which shows we are nowhere near to pre-pandemic levels of depression. Why are people feeling this way? Our respondents gave a variety of reasons relating to the pressures of their current situation. “Not being able to see friends and family was very isolating,” Jason told us. “I widowed a few years and being single during the lockdown was a bit depressing.” A common reason people gave was lack of access to their usual support mechanisms. “Though I’ve suffered with depression for five years, I have been struggling even more during the most recent lockdown,” says Ben, 18. “This is because my normal way of coping is going out and seeing friends and this has been virtually impossible” Our respondents commonly said that existing conditions, like depression, that were once under control, were returning during the latest lockdown. “My depression periods are much stronger than they used to be, and mental illnesses that I believed I had overcome in the past are resurfacing again” said Skye, 19. For some people this has led to dire consequences where they’ve been forced to seek medical attention. “I had a massive depressive episode just after Christmas that had me with an intensive support team” Tristan told us. “I’ve felt more isolated this time than I have before and have been more worried about life in the future.” Although the numbers of people experiencing depression extremely often seem to have decreased, the latest lockdown is still having an extreme effect on LGBTQ+ people’s mental health. Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations ANXIETY Last year we also found high rates of anxiety among LGBTQ+ people during lockdown, with 50% saying they were anxious “every day” or “very often”. Lockdown has exacerbated anxieties for many LGBTQ+ people and with good reason; there’s been a lot to worry about. Whether worrying about COVID itself, or losing their jobs, family and friends, or being forced into difficult living situations, our community has gone through a lot. This year there was a small dip in the figures for “every day” or “very often” anxiety, with 47% (3% lower than last year) of LGBTQ+ people reporting such regular anxiety. This is still a significant increase on the reported level of anxiety before lockdown (37%). And though many people have found coping strategies to lower their levels of stress, the pandemic, and its consequences are far from over. We wanted to know exactly what people were worrying about. We asked: What have you been worrying about during the latest lockdown? Respondents could tick multiple answers. 20% said job security (last year 22%) 35% said money matters (last year 34%) 61% said loneliness and isolation (last year 67%) 46% said general health (last year 48%) 23% said personal safety (last year 31%) 57% said life after lockdown (last year 67%) 67% said friends and family (last year 78%) 25% said living situation (last year 28%) 13% said other (last year 18%) Most worries saw a slight decrease in the number of respondents, however, it clearly shows that LGBTQ+ people are still most worried about friends and family, and loneliness and isolation. These anxieties were clear in the written responses. “Being in lockdown in London in the winter in a small flat with three people and no living room and all of us working from home has been absolutely AWFUL” Nic, 36, told us. “There was nowhere to go, not even a different room in the house or to a friend's place or cafe or anywhere. There were fights in the house and no escape. I felt so trapped which is very triggering.” The lack of access to existing services that were closed has also had an impact on people’s ability to cope. “It’s made my existing depression and anxiety worse. What’s left of support services are more difficult to access and all access is remote which is better than nothing but not at all the same as in person,” said Brandon, 39. "It’s made any other problem feel more intense because I’m only ever at home or at work. I feel physically, mentally and emotionally stuck.” For many, the mixture of being stuck at home and worrying about COVID-19 has proven an extremely anxiety-inducing mix. “Being stuck inside has made me extremely anxious and I often panic about leaving the house at all nowadays whenever I have to” Katie, 17, told us. "I feel very sad that my last year of school has been this way and I often feel lonely and just wish life would go back to normal. Things at home haven’t been the best so being stuck inside has been a bit of a struggle.” Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations LONELINESS The hallmark of lockdowns has been our inability to mix socially. At points we’ve been unable to see friends, family, or even our neighbours for the usual enriching interactions that make our day. For LGBTQ+ people, this has also meant disconnection from the communities where they can be themselves. The result: loneliness, and lots of it. Loneliness was one of the most severe markers of harm in last year’s survey. In 2020 56% of LGBTQ+ people reported feeling lonely “every day” or “very often” during lockdown. Among the young, this was the most severe, with 67% (over two in three) of LGBTQ+ youth reporting these levels of loneliness. The results this year show a 14% reduction in this kind of loneliness with 42% of respondents giving “every day” or “very often” answers. This could suggest an adjustment to the circumstances of lockdown, or a result of the rules, which this year, allowed us to exercise with one other person, even in Tier 5. But the same as last year, the young were still the most affected with 43% still saying they were chronically lonely. “I live on my own and am struggling with the isolation and loneliness. Was able to manage this until Nov and since then it has become harder being on my own all the time,” Jo told us. For some, the ongoing economic problems of lockdown have only added to their loneliness. “I was starting to get moving, fighting my depression when lockdown started last year,” said Guido. “I had a part-time, then furlough, and then in August I was laid off. I'm one year behind rent. I have difficulty walking on my knee. I feel alone and lonely.” Those with dependent family members have found the sheer length of the ongoing crisis hard to cope with. “I am a carer for a dementia sufferer and have had no break from this role for a year,” said one respondent who chose not to give their name. “I am also lonely and it is impossible to try and build a relationship with anyone new under these circumstances” The placement of the latest lockdown in the middle of winter has also proven an important factor in how lonely people felt. “This one has felt more lonely,” Tom, 37, told us. “With the colder weather etc I can’t do what I did during the first lockdown which was sit on my front porch whilst my neighbours sat on theirs having a natter. It’s been far worse and uncertain.” Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations SELF-HARM LGBTQ+ people are more likely than average to experience self-harm, and lockdowns have removed much of the support and outlets usually available to at-risk individuals. It’s also placed them in situations where they may be more exposed to triggers, such as abusive living situations. In 2020, 9% of LGBTQ+ people reported self harming “very often” or “every day”. Trans and gender diverse people were affected most keenly, with 15% reporting these levels of harm. The young were also the badly affected, with 14% reporting this regularity of self harm. This year’s survey showed a similar levels in “very often” or “every day” self harm versus last year, with 9% of respondents giving this answer. For under 18s, there was a slight drop to from 14% to 12%, and for trans and gender diverse people the figure also dropped from 15% to 12%. This could be read as encouraging, but these figures are still wildly higher than the national average, and these people still don’t have access to the necessary support mechanisms to keep them safe. Chelsea, 26, is one such person who has found it difficult to find help. “It has made me feel lonely and like I cannot reach out to medical professionals because the helplines are all busy,” she told us. “When I needed someone to listen to me during a dark time, no one was available so I took to self- harming. It got so bad that I considered taking my life to end the pain and endless loneliness.” Many of the triggering events in the comments related to difficulties related to lockdown, where life events have been made more difficult. “My dad died at the beginning of it (not to covid 19 but it still had a massive impact). I then wasn’t able to see family or friends, my grades were getting worse and worse. school was a nightmare. i was under so much pressure and turned to self harm” Jinx, 14, told us. Given so much time to ourselves, with no contact, many people’s thoughts have turned inwards, and negatively affected their ability to cope. “I have struggled with feeling isolated and having so much time to think,” said Elysia. “It has been more difficult to fight urges to self harm and I have struggled with feeling depressed a lot and have struggled to control it as well as what I usually can.” Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations COMPARING LOCKDOWNS Has lockdown fatigue made the situation for queer people worse? We wanted to assess whether LGBTQ+ people thought this national lockdown, beginning January 2021, was harder than last year’s, beginning March 2020. The stark results of the survey show that: Almost half (49%) of LGBTQ+ found this latest national lockdown harder than the first, by far the most common answer. 24% found both lockdowns equally as hard. 19% found the first lockdown in March 2020 harder. It’s worth remembering here that some parts of the UK have never really emerged from lockdown, as local lockdowns were in place over the summer months. More trans and gender diverse people found the first lockdown harder than their cis counterparts (22% trans, 17% cis). The oldest group of respondents (65+) were the most likely to find the latest lockdown harder with 55% saying so. They were also the least likely to find the first lockdown harder, with only 6% saying so compared to 22 % of 18-24 year olds. 52% of gay people were said they found the latest lockdown harder, the highest of any sexual identity. This compared to 50% of lesbians, 3% of asexuals, and 45% of pansexuals. “I found it harder to be positive,” Jamie, 56, told us. “The first lockdown I looked after myself e.g. eating healthily, moderate alcohol intake, fitness, etc. This last one has been the opposite and generally feeling a bit more down and lacking motivation.” “I have mostly been either numb, irritated or just sad. I used to be able to get counselling at college but can't since lockdown so everything just built up. The first was harder and now this one is even harder," says Danny. “My dad keeps watching the news. It gives him comfort but it gives me a lot of anxiety and plus I'm stuck in a household who misgenders me and uses my dead name 24 hours of the day.” Changes in people’s personal circumstances has had a big impact on how hard people found each lockdown. “First lockdown was worse but I’m in a different living situation this time so it’s a bit harder,” Aaron, 18, told us. “My mental health is worse than it would be without lockdown.” Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations COMMUNITY Lockdowns have severely hampered LGBTQ+ people’s ability to meet in person. Community venues, clubs, bars, societies and charitable organisations have all been unable to provide the vital spaces in which queer identities can thrive. We wanted to know how connected LGBTQ+ people have managed to remain during the latest lockdown, a question we didn’t ask in last year’s survey. 14% of respondents said they had no contact with another LGBTQ+ person for over a month. 7% said they had not had contact with another LGBTQ+ person in over a week. 23% of 45-54 year olds said they have not spoken with another LGBTQ+ person in over a month, the highest of any age group. 25% of asexual people and 14% of gay people also said they hadn’t spoken to another LGBTQ+ person in over a month. “The lack of ability to go out and about, and particularly the closure of the England/Wales border has resulted in feelings of both isolation and lack of privacy,” Paul, 51, told us. “I am unable to visit the people I think of as a community and am unable to get time/peace and quiet to just decompress.” Many LGBTQ+ people don’t live with other queer people, and have no community links nearby, which can be extremely problematic. “I live in an entirely straight household,” said Carrie 49. “I feel isolated from people like me; from people that understand. I miss being in LGBT spaces.” For others, the possibility of romance is what they’ve missed the most. “Even pre-lockdown I have been single for years but the possibility of meeting someone gave hope of light at the end of the tunnel which lockdown has taken away,” Paul, 46, told us. “I would just like a cuddle.” Many questioning people who have discovered their identity during lockdown also expressed the idea to join in community activities when they resume. “I've mostly discovered my true identity/orientation during lockdown,” said Christina, 21, “so want to try and find groups etc in my local area when life goes back to normal.” Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations SELF-EXPRESSION In the absence of dating, community spaces, and face-to-face contact, as well as the possibility of being forced into homophobic or transphobic home environments, LGBTQ+ people may have not felt able to fully express their identity. While not true for everyone, for many of us, community, whatever form that takes, is part of who we are. Our results show that the majority of LGBTQ+ people have, in some way, had to limit their expression of their queer identity during the latest lockdown. Only 32% (almost one in three) of people felt they could express their LGBTQ+ identity “all the time”. Even more concerning, 12% of respondents said they could never express their LGBTQ+ identity during lockdown .This figure increases dramatically for specific identities, with 24% of asexual and 28% of questioning people said that they can never express their identity. 47% (almost half) of gay people reported that they could express their identity “all the time”, the highest of any sexual identity. At the opposite end of the spectrum, only 24% of trans and gender diverse respondents said they could express their identity all the time during lockdown. The young were far less able to express themselves than older LGBTQ+ people. Only 17% of under 18s and 28% of 18-24 year olds said they could express their identity all the time. This compares to 40% of 55-64 year olds and 60% of those 65 and older. Proximity to family, and non-LGBTQ+ friendly living environments were one of the most common reasons people cited for being unable to express themselves. “I’m semi closeted with my family (whom I’m in lockdown with) and I don’t feel like I can be my authentic self” Izzie, 22, told us. Lia, 21, had a similar story, saying she could only express herself “in messages to friends when the door is shut. My mum doesn’t believe me yet demonises me for it, and my Nan doesn’t know.” The colliding of worlds with millions of people now working from home has also presented issues for LGBTQ+ people. “I'm out as non-binary at work but not at home so I'm trying to balance everything and keep things separate, despite working from home” said F, 37. People’s inability to be open has also made using lockdown support harder. “I formed a support bubble with my partner,” said Jessica, 20, “but have to keep that hidden from a few members of my family.” Others have turned to the internet as the place where they can embrace their LGBTQ+ identity and engage with the community. “I am not out to anyone that I live with and I do not feel comfortable to come out to them yet,” said Sarah, 19. "I am able to be myself around my friend (who I used to go for a walk with every week) but she has gone back to University now. I use twitter and tiktok to be authentic but kind of anonymously." Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations HOUSING Sometimes, the crises COVID lockdowns have precipitated result in LGBTQ+ people no longer having safe places to live, or they have been unable to afford their current accommodation. Other recent studies have pointed to a crisis in queer homelessness, especially among youth, and our data shows that young people have found living situations particularly challenging. 9% (nearly one in ten) of LGBTQ+ people felt at risk of homelessness during the latest lockdown, a 1% increase on last year. 6% of respondents reported having to move house, or change accommodations through fear for their safety, wellbeing, eviction, or another reason beyond their control. Young people were the most likely to say they felt at risk of homelessness. 12% of 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds said they felt at risk, the highest of any age groups. “Since losing my job and being unable to secure work in time I have had to move back with parents which has been stressful and when I talk to my friends I have to make sure they can't be heard and be careful what I say so I don't out myself and be thrown out” James, 27, told us. “My mental health declined so much over lockdown that I had to drop down to four days at my minimum wage job," said Indigo, 25. “This meant my partner and I couldn’t afford to pay rent at our flat. We had to move into a shared flat.” Some people chose to move for their own wellbeing. “I was living with my family who are not fully supportive of my trans identity, and it was becoming difficult to live with them” said Bill, 20. Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations VIOLENCE AND ABUSE LGBTQ+ people are already at higher risk of violence and abuse, and as previous sections of the survey have already told us, their situation may have become more precarious during lockdown. In last year’s survey 15% of LGBTQ+ people reported experiencing violence and abuse during the national lockdown. This year that figure increased slightly, with: 16% of respondents saying they had experienced violence or abuse. Last year, 91% of LGBTQ+ people said they had experienced abuse in a public setting and 17% said they had experienced it in a public space (respondents could select both). This year the results changed completely: 67% had experienced violence in the home, and 46% in a public setting. This suggests a dramatic increase in the amount of abuse LGBTQ+ people are experiencing outdoors. This was also reflected in the many stories people chose to share in the comments. “As is common for a lot of gay men I've had the words "fag" "queer" "gay boy" yelled at me on the street or from a moving car” said Brian, 20. “With the lockdown meaning I don't have as easy access to my support network it makes this instance harder to deal with. I have also noticed that this is more common since the lockdown.” Daniel also received abuse in a public place. “In the street with boyfriend as we live together”, he told us, “and we called sinners from a gay protest and that we should just kill ourselves.” For others the abusive behaviour has remained in the home, as Ryan, 21 told us. “The family member I live with is basically a dictator, and so until university ends, I'm stuck living here dealing with daily snide comments and insults,” he said. “Every other day there's an argument of some sort and I've been called and made to feel disgusting. After a year it does add up.” Ryan, 21 Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations SEX For the past twelve months LGBTQ+ people have been living under an indirect sex ban, unless they’re living with that person or they can form a bubble. This accounts for a huge amount of the queer community, and is a long time for anyone to go without physical touch. Last year we asked LGBTQ+ people whether they’d had sex during lockdown: 19% said yes. This year that number went up dramatically: 33% said they had had sex during the lockdown beginning January 2021 Of those LGBTQ+ people who said they’d had sex, 48% said it was not with someone they lived with, this is also a significant increase on last year’s results where only 29% gave the same answer. Either more LGBTQ+ people have been forming bubbles during this lockdown, or more people have felt the need to break lockdown restrictions in order to meet their physical and emotional needs. We also wanted to know what people’s relation was to their sexual partner so we asked who their sex was with: 13% said husband 5% said wife 29% said boyfriend 18% said girlfriend 11% said someone they’re dating 2% said a housemate 12% said a friend 16% said a stranger 3% said a civil partner 7% said other Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN Lockdown has deprived us of almost all of the in-person LGBTQ+ socialising and events that give us joy, and offer us support. As society begins to slowly open up again in 2021, we asked our respondents what parts of LGBTQ+ life they want to return the most. 64% of respondents are looking forward to the return of pride 40% want the return of bars, clubs, and nightlife 36% are looking forward to community groups like youth clubs and societies 24% are looking forward to the return of support groups Other parts of LGBTQ+ life suggested by our respondents were saunas, queer arts, and queer friendship circles. Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations VACCINATION Access to the vaccine is key for LGBTQ+ people to move forward with their lives safely. The survey assessed whether respondents had been vaccinated and if not, whether they would accept one. In addition, we asked what worries people had about receiving a vaccine. The numbers here are encouraging, 33% of respondents reported that they had been vaccinated with at least one dose, a high figure given the low average age of LGBTQ+ people who took the survey. 54% of gay men said they had received a first dose, the highest of any sexual identity. This may be the result of those living with HIV being offered priority vaccines. This compared to 22% of lesbians and 20% of bisexual people. Questioning people reported the lowest vaccination rate: just 12%. Older people were overwhelmingly the most vaccinated group: 99% of those aged 65+ reported receiving a first dose. Whereas the lowest, predictably, was the under 18s, of which only 3% said they had received a vaccine. Vaccination hesitancy was also low. Of those who were unvaccinated, 82% indicated they would take the vaccine if offered, 12% said they were unsure, and 6% said they would not take it. We also asked those who had concerns about the vaccine, what their worries were: 64% said they were wary of unpleasant side effects. 28% were worried about the safety of the vaccine 27% had doubts about its efficacy 17% were worried about the speed of vaccine development. 21% also expressed other concerns Other concerns were extremely varied but potential long-term effects featured heavily. “Vaccines are usually tested for a long time before being released, I just have the worry about long term side effects that we don’t know about yet.” Some, however, used the space to tell us that any worries they had were outweighed by the benefits. “I know any worries or concerns are worth it to protect myself and others” Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS Ian Howley, Chief Executive of LGBT HERO, shares his thoughts on the results. Before COVID-19 began, we knew that LGBTQ+ people were far more likely to experience health and social inequalities such as mental health, sexual health, discrimination and hate crimes. However, I don't think anyone realised when this all started the impact it would have on our community. The results are clear, they tell us our community is suffering, are going through a mental health crisis and they need help and support. I'm extremely alarmed at the number of LGBTQ+ people who have felt suicidal over the past 12 months, especially from LGBTQ+ people under the age of 25. 14% of those under-18 have attempted to take their own lives, with 56% of those identifying as trans or gender diverse. The evidence suggests the reason for this is down to anxiety, isolation and loneliness. It's clear many LGBTQ+ people felt trapped over the last 12 months, but especially since the last national lockdown began. We as LGBTQ+ people need to connect with one another, we need spaces to meet, feel safe and we need to be able to express who we are as people. And it was all taken away from us with no guarantee it will ever return to the way it was. This is something the majority of the population simply do not understand. Who we are as people is very much linked to how we live. Although we are entering a period where restrictions are being lifted, there is no guarantee that we won't be back in a similar situation as autumn and winter arrives. It's important that we future proof our support systems to make sure we can better respond to those who need it. We need to be able to support those who are suffering and we need to be able to do this now. These results must be used to find better ways to support LGBTQ+ people. We need to find better ways to support people to tackle the high numbers of people who are suffering from depression, anxiety and loneliness and those who are feeling suicidal. We also need to find better ways to support those who are experiencing both physical and emotional abuse. Young LGBTQ+ people are also in need of better support systems, as they are the ones who are suffering the most. We hope these results will help build better systems for the future. The impact of this virus will likely have long-term health and wellbeing issues for many people. Just because we can all go out and meet one another again does not mean the impact of the last 12 months will disappear in the coming months. Mental wellbeing does not work like that. Many in our community will be dealing with these issues for years to come. it's important that we continue to monitor how LGBTQ+ people are doing and continue to shape our services to meet their needs. LGBT HERO has clear recommendations from this survey results: Suicide prevention and intervention needs to be a key part of services for the foreseeable future. The impact of the last 12 months will not go away with restrictions being lifted. The impact of COVID will last for years to come. Special groupwork and workshops that tackle the issues of isolation, loneliness and anxiety is needed. We need to teach our community how to cope with all three but to help those who are anxious about heading back into society as we move forward. More support services are needed - including peer-support. At the moment, our community relies on a small amount of charities to deliver support. There needs to be better investment in to our sector so smaller charities can increase their scope to deliver counselling in one-to-one settings (offline and online) and to deliver spaces where LGBTQ+ people can talk, share and support one another. Investing in all three areas would allow us to help our community right now and hopefully prevent any long-term damage while building better foundations for our community moving forward. To do this we need the government to step in and support LGBTQ+ charities who can do this work. Although the government has released funds over the last year for non-profits during the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t go far enough and charities, like ourselves, tend to fly under the radar and miss out on a lot of the funding that’s available. LGBT HERO as a national health and wellbeing charity is here to support LGBTQ+ people in any way we can, especially during a crisis like we are living through. LGBT HERO supports over 100,000 LGBTQ+ people a month. It’s important LGBTQ+ charities, like us, survive so we all can continue to be there for LGBTQ+ people when they need us. If you would like to support LGBT HERO you can make a donation here. Jump to: Key findings | Who took the survey | Suicide | Mental Health | Depression | Anxiety | Loneliness | Self-Harm | Comparing Lockdowns | Community | Self Expression | Sex | Life After Lockdown | Violence & Abuse | Housing | Vaccination | Conclusion & recommendations SUPPORT LGBT HERO Forums Provides a safe and non-judgmental space for LGBTQ+ people to talk to one another about their issues and life experience. Switchboard - 0300 330 0630, 10am-10pm - email [email protected] - Web text chat here. LGBTQ+ helpline run by volunteers. Here to help you with whatever you want to talk about. Nothing is off limits. LGBT Foundation - 0345 3 30 30 30, Monday to Friday, 10am-6pm Helpline that has been running for over 35 years, and is staffed by a team of dedicated staff and volunteer operators. Talk about hate crimes, mental health, gender identity. Whatever you need. Mermaids - 0808 801 0400, Monday to Friday, 9am-9pm Family and individual support for gender diverse and transgender children and young people. LGBT IE - LGBT Helpline (1890 929 539), Gender Identity Family Support Line (01 907 3707), [email protected] Irish LGBT organisation that offers an LGBT helpline, and gender identity helpline, as well as support via instant messenger you can find here. Support U - 0118 321 9111 Confidential support line for LGBT people as well as friends and families. Information offered on coming out, family problems, sexual health, training for your company or provider. THT Direct - 0808 802 1221, 10am-8pm, Monday to Friday Offering advice about HIV and other STIs, PrEP, PEP, and other aspects of sexual health. LGBT Cymru - 0800 840 2069, 7pm-9pm Mondays (other times voicemail with response within 24 hours) Support line for LGBT people as well as their friend, spouses, and families. Galop - 0800 999 5428 Advice and support for LGBTQ+ people who have experienced hate crime, sexual violence or domestic abuse. Also offers support for those who've had problems with the police or have questions about the criminal justice system. Brighton and Hove Switchboard - 01273 204050, evenings (closed Tuesday and Saturday) Charity for LGBTQ people looking for community, support or information. Mindline Trans+ - 0300 330 5468, (Mon-Fri 8pm-midnight) Confidential emotional, mental health support helpline for people who identify as Transgender, Agender, Gender Fluid, Non-binary. Drugs and Alcohol London Friend - 020 7833 1674 (10am-6pm, Monday to Friday) Offers one-to-one support, counselling, drug / alcohol programmes, and drop-ins for LGBTQ+ people experiencing drug and alcohol issues. Friday Monday Detailed information about about sex and drugs for gay and bi men and links to local support services. LGBT Foundation - 0345 3 303030 - email: [email protected] Offers one to one support, peer support groups, help around chemsex, and referrals to specialists around GBL/GHB and alcohol. Trans Mermaids - 0808 801 0400, Monday to Friday, 9am-9pm f you are a young person that feels at odds with their birth gender, or you are a parent with a child who feels this way, Mermaids can help. Provides a broad range of support to transgender and gender diverse young people and their families. Gendered Intelligence Work with the trans community and those who impact on trans lives; specialising in supporting young trans people aged 8-25. Offers youth groups, information as well as support and resources for families. Spectra Offers groups – social and therapeutic, one to one support, health screening and individual assessment, counselling, and training and consultation on sexual health, sexuality and gender identities. TransUnite Access over 100 verified UK Trans support groups and locate one close to you. Detailed profiles offer specific information on the scope of support provided, meeting schedules and contact information.