A third of gay men report feeling unsafe at home and struggle with anxiety and isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus arrived at a time when LGBT people around the world were continuing to struggle for freedom and equality. Hornet wanted to better understand how Coronavirus was impacting our community, so conducted a survey of our users. The preliminary data provides a snapshot of the LGBT experience during the epidemic and can help craft a strategy for how best to respond to it, ensuring needs are met and rights are protected.
The global pandemic has made many LGBT people more vulnerable to discrimination, violence, economic and housing insecurity, HIV, and mental health concerns. In fact, this is not our first global pandemic. Coronavirus arrives amidst 40 years of HIV that has disproportionately impacted our community. We must prioritize mental health, utilize technology, and address the health disparities LGBT people continue to face.
The preliminary batch of respondents was 3,466 Hornet users. The vast majority of these users are male-identified men seeking other men. The top six countries in terms of respondent percentages were Brazil, Russia, France, Turkey, Indonesia, and the United States. A majority of respondents were under 35 years old (all respondents were 18 and over); 17% of respondents said they were HIV-positive. The flash survey ran from April 16–30 and is a snapshot from a much larger project that will continue in multiple languages.
Here are some key findings from Hornet’s preliminary data:
- When asked if they have been feeling anxious since the COVID-19 crisis began, 28% reported feeling anxious very much, and 44% reported feeling anxious a little bit.
- When asked if they have been feeling lonely since the COVID-19 crisis began, 24% reported feeling lonely very much and 36% reported feeling lonely a little bit.
- When asked about their current living environment, 30% reported feeling physically and/or emotionally unsafe.
- 70% of respondents reported using the Hornet app to ease loneliness during the COVID-19 crisis.
Users reported a high rate of staying in during the COVID-19 crisis, but they also reported feeling anxious and lonely. Many LGBT people already struggle with mental health issues, and this current crisis could serve to exacerbate that and put LGBT people at increased risk. We must work to cultivate isolation mitigation strategies as we contend with the pandemic’s impact on the LGBT community. Online technology provides a unique opportunity on this front, and even though a high number of respondents reported using Hornet to help ease loneliness, there is much more work to be done to address the complex mental health issues of the community during these times.
A large number of respondents reported they were not having sex and were dissatisfied with their sex lives. While the decrease in sexual activity can decrease the risk of COVID-19 through casual contact, it is important to note that sexual dissatisfaction is high. Such dissatisfaction is not sustainable and it is likely action will eventually be taken to improve their sexual satisfaction. Strategies will need to be created to help maintain a fulfilling sex life in the time of COVID-19 while also reducing the risk of HIV and STIs.
Many LGBT people have had to endure unsafe home environments. This issue becomes particularly acute during a time when we’ve been instructed to stay at home to guard against COVID-19. Unfortunately, the notion of “safe at home” does not apply to all LGBT people. The very shelter that is meant to be a place of protection is unsafe for many LGBT people, and 30% of respondents reported feeling emotionally and/or physically unsafe in their home environments. This presents our community with the challenge of meeting the needs of these community members and exploring all options from mental health to safe housing.
Before COVID-19, LGBT people were vulnerable to violence, harassment, and HIV. Many were experiencing unstable housing, a lack of legal protections, or were migrants looking to pursue a life free of violence and discrimination. LGBT people are criminalized in over 70 countries around the globe, and that status creates challenges when it comes to accessing government resources that are deployed to assist during the pandemic. Additionally, contact tracing, a key strategy for disease control, has the potential to expose LGBT people and put them at risk of increased stigma and discrimination. More in-depth research is required to address the complexities of these issues.
Online technology is a bright spot amidst these trying times. Gay social networks have served as lifelines to many people living in hostile environments. In the times of COVID-19, that lifeline stretches and expands to include LGBT people all around the world who struggle with the new reality created by this global pandemic.
The Coronavirus crisis presents an opportunity to invest in the health and wellness of LGBT people. We can prioritize mental health and we can continue to advance the basic human rights of all LGBT people. We can help people around the world stay connected and feel that they are part of a safe and supportive global LGBT community.
Hornet is available for free download in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Founded in 2011, Hornet is the world’s premier gay social network. With over 25 million users globally, the Hornet mission is to inspire and empower gay men to create a global, connected community that moves society forward. Powered by cutting-edge technology, Hornet has become the number one gay app in markets like France, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and Taiwan, and is rapidly expanding its sizable user base in the United States. More information at hornet.com
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Media inquiries: Alex Garner, Hornet Senior Health Strategist, [email protected]