US Insights

A community's Pulse

Rob Callender

Associate Head of Polycultural & Inclusivity Insights

Policy 06.24.2016 / 11:00

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More LGBTQ than straight respondents feel vulnerable to health and welfare issues, discomfort over uncertainty in their lives

In the wake of the shocking atrocity in Orlando earlier this month, it’s a good time to remember that the LGBTQ community’s historic gains in recent years are tempered by hardships past and present. The Futures Company’s work with this community finds a persistent sense of vulnerability that registers at both the conscious and subconscious levels.

Although the LGBTQ population ostensibly faces less discrimination and prejudice today, a pervasive sense of uncertainty and vulnerability still lingers. As Orlando so painfully illustrated, triumph remains tempered by trial. LGBTQ community members not only know bad things can happen to them, they seem more resigned to the whim of cruel fate than their straight counterparts. Significantly more LGBTQ than straight respondents feel vulnerable to various health and welfare issues; more are uncomfortable with the level of uncertainty in their lives (61% LGBTQ to 46% straight), and fewer are optimistic (48% LGBTQ to 59% straight).

LGBTQ Americans are significantly more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety and are more likely to attempt suicide or struggle with substance abuse. Despite greater acceptance, the LGBTQ experience still produces serious challenges to emotional, physical and mental well-being. Compared to the exclusively straight population, significantly fewer LGBTQ respondents - 49%, compared to 69% of straight respondents - tell us they enjoyed more than 20 days of good mental health in the past month.

Respondents willing to assert a connection with Queerness—whether in identity, behavior or attraction—generally understand that it’s not a risk-free proposition. Still, this community refuses to wallow in despair. They’ve earned their pride through perseverance, and they wear their boldness as a badge of honor. LGBTQs aren’t just more risk-tolerant, they’re eager to be seen as such. Seventy percent agree they are more open to taking chances now than they have been in the past, compared to 56% of straight respondents; and 63% of LGBTQ respondents say it's important to them to be seen by others as someone who takes chances in life, compared to 51% of straight respondents.

Still, making connections and building bridges is tough—tougher still for a small minority community. And it’s especially tricky when the simple act of opening up and identifying oneself poses social and physical risks. Perhaps that’s why LGBTQ community members are particularly pro-social, feeling a stronger need to do more for (and be better served by) their local communities: 71% say they should be doing more to help their local community, and 54% wish there were more their local community were doing to help them, compared to 66% and 35% of straight respondents, respectively.

Whether by accident or design, the attack on a gay nightclub hardly could have hit closer to the heart of gay society. Often unwelcome in more traditional gathering places like houses of worship, LGBTQs created a strong, vibrant, protective culture where they could—in places like Pulse. The good news is that the community isn’t as isolated as it once was. A vigil commemorating the Pulse attack drew an estimated 50,000 people in Orlando. It’s a fitting response to an attack on a vulnerable demographic—especially one as socially oriented as the LGBTQ community. 



Source: Kantar Futures

Editor's Notes

Source 2015 U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR.

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