LGBT communities have deep historical ties to being impacted by health crises and pandemics.
In particular, the AIDS crisis and HIV epidemic, which began in the 1980s and continues on, devastated many LGBT communities, particularly queer male networks.
However, LGBT communities also showed resiliency and resourcefulness, as activists, communities, organizations, and healthcare professionals arose—often in the face of widespread discrimination—to take action and raise awareness, and medical developments have since led to much progress.
While queer communities survived and rebuilt themselves, they are once again turning to their strengths to find new ways to carry on amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A national survey found that LGBT Canadians are more impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic than other Canadians.
Advocacy and human rights organization Egale Canada, in partnership with the Innovative Research Group, released a report on April 6 that analyzed the results of an online survey of 2,610 Canadian adults (300 LGBT Canadians and 2,000 other Canadians for representative national samples) conducted from March 24 to 29.
The survey found that LGBT Canadians are more likely to be living with a chronic health condition (29 percent for LGBT and 15 percent for all Canadians) or a physical disability (12 percent for LGBT and seven percent for other Canadians).
Over half of LGBT Canadians have been affected (53 percent) by layoffs or reduced hours themselves or by someone in their household, compared to 39 percent of other Canadians.
LGBT respondents also perceived a significantly greater impact of the pandemic upon their current physical and mental health, household finances, and quality of life, as well as their outlook in these areas in the near future.
The survey also found that LGBT people were more concerned about taking precautions against spreading the virus than other Canadians, and were more likely to be in self-isolation than Canadians (58 percent for LGBT people, compared to 49 percent for Canadians).
While numerous Pride celebrations around the world have been impacted by the pandemic, including across Canada, that doesn’t mean that Pride isn’t cancelled.
After previous uncertainty about what would happen to Pride events scheduled in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal this summer, some decisions have been announced.
After B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stated during her daily B.C. COVID-19 briefing on April 18 that large-scale events and festivals won’t be held in 2020, the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) issued a news release in response.
The VPS, which has been considering alternate ways of helping LGBT communities converge, will endeavour to offer a Pride Week celebration this year through virtual means.
“LGBTQAI2S+ communities still face discrimination on a regular basis—we still need a sense of connection and belonging,” VPS executive director Andrea Arnot stated in a news release on April 18. “These values are what lay at the heart of Pride. Our community has always found resilient ways to adapt to challenging situations—we will adapt together through this one.”
The nonprofit VPS, which relies upon business and community organization support to provide free events, will be contacting all partners, vendors, and parade participants to inform them of this year’s plans.
Meanwhile, other major Canadian cities are also developing new ways to continue celebrating Pride this year.
On March 31, Pride Toronto announced that it would be unable to host the festival weekend scheduled from June 26 to 28. However, Pride Toronto is working towards delivering celebrations through other means that ensure health safety measures.
After an announcement from the Quebec government that festivals would not be held in the province until after August 31, Fierté Montréal (Montreal Pride) stated that it would cancel its Pride parade (to be held on August 15) this year. Nonetheless, the Pride team is continuing to create a festival that will allow for social distancing and will be held from August 6 to 16.