How to cope with lockdown as a young LGBTQIA+ person

A young person is sitting in their room looking at their phone, wearing a t-shirt with the pride rainbow flag colours.

Lockdown has been difficult for LGBTQIA+ communities

It’s Pride month, which is a usually a time of celebration for LGBTQIA+ communities, as well as a time for activism, and reflection on the struggles they have faced and are still facing. Pride month during lockdown however, looks a bit different. Communities can meet online but can’t take part in street parades, or party into the night in clubs and bars, which can feel frustrating and sad at what is usually such an important time of union.

Without the same contact with their friends and communities, lockdown has has been difficult for many LGBTQIA+ young people for lots of reasons. We spoke to Tim Sigsworth, the CEO of the Albert Kennedy Trust (akt), a charity that offers support and guidance to LGBTQIA+ young people who are facing homelessness. Tim told us about the biggest issues facing LGBTQIA+ young people at the moment.

What are the main challenges young people from the LGBTQIA+ community are facing during lockdown?

We know that for many LGBTQ+ young people, lockdown is having a detrimental impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Many LGBTQ+ young people don’t feel fully able to truly be themselves at home, and so rely on contact with community groups and other LGBTQ+ friends for this.

This is situation is exacerbated for young people who are living in hostile or abusive environments, where being themselves poses a threat to their safety. Some of these young people might not be ‘out’, and so lockdown adds to the difficulties that the individual would experience generally, when they are able to leave the house to see friends, make calls or access LGBTQ+ services.

We’ve supported young people over the last few weeks for whom lockdown has made their home environment even more unsafe. Coming out, or being outed, can lead to further abuse, threats of being thrown out of home or actually being thrown out of home.

Joblessness caused by being laid off with no furlough scheme also means that there are many LGBTQ+ young people who’ve been left unable to pay rent or access universal credit on time. This means lots of our casework has involved providing financial support, food or phone top ups to keep young people safe. Those on zero hours contracts in particular are having to think about how to make ends meet.

akt has also seen a rise in young people contacting us who are street homeless, and local authorities don’t always recognise these young people’s vulnerabilities, and therefore their duty to house them. This poses a challenge for lots of LGBTQ+ young people, which our incredible Services team are around to support.

What advice would you give to a young LGBTQIA+ person who feels unsafe at home during lockdown?

Please reach out for support, in a way that you feel safe and able to.

If you’re a young LGBTQ+ person living in a hostile or abusive environment, or worry for your safety, akt can support you. We can use live chat or email if you don’t feel safe to take a call, and work with you to try and keep you safe and with a roof over your head.

More generally, know that you’re not alone. This is an incredibly difficult time, and it’s so important to talk if you can. Services like Samaritans and Switchboard also offer helplines where you can talk about your fears and feelings, if you’re feeling afraid or alone.

Where you can, try and minimize conflict. I know this is harder than it sounds and might mean holding your tongue when you wish you didn’t have to, if doing so would put your safety or life at risk. For your own mental wellbeing, we’d also advise looking for supportive online content, from the informative to the fun. You can find more of this on akt’s website or over on Instagram @aktcharity.

What kind of support is available to young LGBTQIA+ people who are homeless or vulnerably housed?

akt is here online to ensure no LGBTQ+ young person has to face homelessness or live in a hostile or abusive environment. Please reach out to us if you are concerned about your safety or wellbeing.

We can provide emergency support, advice, information and help to find safe accommodation, in particular during these unprecedented times.

If you fall outside of our age bracket of 16-25, Stonewall Housing is another charity providing support to LGBTQ+ people facing homelessness. You can also reach out to The Outside Project, who provide similar support.

How can young people be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community at this time?

While everybody is struggling with lockdown at the moment, it’s important to remember that LGBTQ+ young people are uniquely or disproportionately impacted by a range of issues that lockdown has only intensified, such as depression or mental health issues.

It’s also important to note the disparity within the LGBTQ+ community, and people who are being impacted by the current climate worse than others. For example, queer young people of colour and trans young people account for two thirds of the young people reaching out to us during lockdown.

Check in with your LGBTQ+ peers and ask if you can do anything to support them, and if you think one of them might be in danger, please ask them to seek help. You can always contact services like akt or Switchboard if you have concerns about someone and don’t know what to do.

If you’re able to, now is also an incredibly important time to support organisations that look after marginalised LGBTQ+ young people, particularly those who are experiencing more hardship because of lockdown.

How can young LGBTQIA+ people get access to sexual health advice and care during lockdown?

 There are a range of services available to provide guidance and support to LGBTQ+ people who have questions or concerns around sexual health including but not limited to:

  • THT, a national HIV and sexual health charity – and its helpline THT Direct
  • CliniQ, inclusive trans sexual health and wellbeing charity
  • LGBT Foundation, charity providing a range of services including sexual health
  • PrEPster, a charity focusing on access to and information on PrEP
  • NAZ, a sexual health charity that delivers culturally-specific services to communities

What advice would you give to a young LGBTQIA+ person who is experiencing homophobic or transphobic behaviour from their landlord during lockdown?

If you’re experiencing homophobic, biphobic or transphobic behaviour from your landlord, including threats of eviction, please contact akt immediately.

We can help ensure you’re aware of your rights and how to navigate any kind of situation where a landlord is making your living environment hostile, or threatening to evict you from the property.

What message of hope and support would you like to send to young LGBTQIA+ people who are struggling during lockdown?

We are all in this together and, although you may feel isolated and lonely during lockdown, you’re a part of a wonderful community who loves and appreciates you.

This isn’t forever and we’ll make our way through it. Until then, there are helplines if you’re feeling anxious or worried, and if you’re in a hostile environment and need to escape then akt can help.

akt is also running a range of wellbeing and ‘fun’ content online to try and make people feel more connected, over on Instagram, and lots of other charities are doing the same. This doesn’t compensate for face to face support, but in the mean-time, it’s certainly something.

For further support and advice

Read Emmanuela’s story about coming out to her family during lockdown.

Read our interview with Switchboard LGBT Helpline for advice on exploring your sexuality and dealing with homophobia.

Head to The Mix’s money page to find tips and information on managing your money during lockdown.

Reach out to The Mix’s team for free and confidential support on any topic.

Next Steps

  • The Albert Kennedy Trust supports LGBT people aged 16-25-years-old who are homeless or living in a hostile environment. AKT has offices in London (call on 020 7831 6562), Manchester (0161 228 3308) and Newcastle (0191 281 0099).
  • BlackOut UK is a not-for-profit social enterprise run and owned by a volunteer collective of black gay men. They celebrate the diversity of experience and views among black queer men in the UK and offer support and advice
  • Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline offers a range of help services for the LGBT community, including message boards and a helpline. 0300 330 0630
  • Stonewall campaign for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain and abroad.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 12-Jun-2020