by Joe Siegel
The United States Census Bureau reported in its August 11 Household Pulse Survey that LGBTQ households have been more severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to an August 16 story by Matthew Bajko in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR): “Since the beginning of the health crisis there has been no accurate data on the number of cases of COVID or hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus within the LGBTQ community due to myriad issues with the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity demographics.”
Researchers have tried to extrapolate what they can from the limited data that is available, while various agencies focused on the LGBTQ community have conducted their own studies into COVID’s impacts, the BAR reported.
“Census officials had disclosed on August 5 that the newest phase of their Household Pulse Survey had been updated in July to now ask respondents their sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to their sex,” Bajko reported. “It is part of the census bureau’s experimental data collection effort to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on American households.”
The census bureau’s new data only continues to highlight what we have long known, according to Jay Brown, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president of programs, research and training. “LGBTQ+ Americans disproportionately bear the brunt of economic hardships from food insecurity to unemployment. This disparity is further fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the LGBTQ+ community is more likely to work in frontline service jobs, have their hours cut, and face housing and employment discrimination.”
This is a situation that has impacted LGBTQ media outlets, both in terms of coverage as well as revenue.
“We have been reporting on the impact of the COVID epidemic since everything closed down in Texas mid-March 2020,” said Tammye Nash, Managing Editor of the Dallas Voice.
Nash said the Texas Bear Round-Up, one of the largest Bear events in the country and a big fundraiser in Dallas, was scheduled for that weekend and was one of the first big LGBTQ events to be canceled.
“Our most-read story in 2020 — and one of the most-read stories ever on our website — was a column written by a gay Republican talking about how he and his husband believed that the dangers of COVID were being overblown by the Democrats to harm the Trump Administration and impact the 2020 election,” Nash said. “So they ignored the warnings, refused to mask and refused to socially distance. They hosted a get-together for the husband’s family which resulted in numerous cases of COVID in the family. The husband’s father and grandmother both died, and the column writer himself nearly died.”
The Dallas Voice has also published several stories about LGBTQ community members who have died from or were very ill with COVID, vaccination rates among the various communities, and how the pandemic was trending in terms of number of infections, number of deaths, and vaccination rates.
“We have somehow managed to have both one of our best years for coverage and best years for advertising and support,” said Troy Masters, publisher of the Los Angeles Blade. “Our COVID-19 coverage and daily updates were essential reading and our traffic doubled with last month being our best at 890,000 impressions.”
Masters noted that the pandemic will continue to impact the LGBTQ community for the immediate future.
“2022 will certainly be a major challenge for local small businesses as so many were bolstered by COVID grants and supplements and have to now rely on their own revenues to propel them forward,” Masters said. “Eviction moratoriums — for both renters and some mortgages — have not ended here — they were extended. So we still don’t know if there’s a future tsunami of insecurity. Los Angeles is very much a freelance job community and people have suffered greatly. Many have been forced back to regular jobs or to leave places like San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York City.
“As much as everyone wants to will us past the impacts of COVID, I think it’s a long ways off,” Masters added. “Local businesses are still considerably down and the empty storefronts that now line L.A.’s luxury shopping districts like Melrose remain empty. There may be an entrepreneurial surge when the world starts traveling again, but at the moment things have not bounced back.”