We surveyed over 2300 people to find out exactly how the coronavirus lockdown is affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Lockdown has touched every aspect of our lives, but has particularly impacted the vulnerable. This is why we asked queer people about everything from  health to housing. 

Thanks to the huge response we've got a lot of data, but it's worth noting that this was a self-selecting survey promoted via Facebook, and this should be taken into account when reading the results. Survey data was collected between May 14 and May 29, 2020.

Key Findings

Lockdown has severely impacted LGBTQ+ mental health:

  • Almost four in five (79%) LGBTQ+ people said that their mental health had been negatively impacted by the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Before lockdown 24% of LGBTQ+ people said they were depressed “very often” or “every day”. During lockdown this increased to 43%.
  • Before lockdown, 34% of LGBTQ+ people said they experienced anxiety “very often” or “every day”. During lockdown this increases to 50%.

Loneliness has become an epidemic during lockdown, especially for young people:

  • Before lockdown 21% of LGBTQ+ people said they experienced loneliness “very often” or “every day”. During lockdown this more than doubles to 56%.
  • Epidemic of loneliness among young people: more than two in three (67%) of under 18 LGBTQ+ people felt lonely "very often" or "every day" during lockdown.

The consequences of lockdown have not been spread equally among the LGBTQ+ community:

  • 15% of LGBTQ+ people reported experiencing violence or abuse during lockdown.
  • Black and South Asian LGBTQ+ people were more than twice as likely to experience violence or abuse during lockdown compared to white LGBTQ+ people.
  • Almost two in five (39%) of LGBTQ+ people have missed medical appointments during lockdown.
  • Lockdown has polarised rates of self harm, with more LGBTQ+ people never self harming, and more harming "very often" or "every day".
  • 8% of LGBTQ+ people have felt at risk of homelessness during lockdown.

LGBTQ+ people are already at higher risk of mental health problems, and our findings show that lockdown has exacerbated the existing epidemic of poor mental health. There have been dramatic increases in the severity of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, and many more people reporting their general mental health declining. This is extremely worrying, and may have long-term consequences for particularly at-risk groups.

Almost four in five (79%) LGBTQ+ people said that their mental health had been negatively impacted by the coronavirus lockdown.

We also asked LGBTQ+ people to rate their mental health before lockdown, and since lockdown began.

34% of LGBTQ+ people rated their mental health before lockdown began as “poor” or “extremely poor”. When asked to rate their mental health during lockdown, this almost doubles to 61%. 

The Breakdown:

Young people have disproportionately borne the mental health burden.

43% of under 18s rated their mental health “extremely poor” or “poor” before lockdown. During lockdown this increases to 69%. For 18-24 year olds, the figure doubles (33% before / 68% during).

Bisexual people have seen similar increases (35% before / 65% during) as have lesbians (38% before, 66% during). 

Trans and gender diverse people have also been disproportionately affected.

42% of trans and gender diverse people rated responded “extremely poor” or “poor” before lockdown, this increases to 72% during lockdown. For cis people, the increase was from 29% to 56%.

Among black people the rate almost doubled (37% before / 67% during) as did the rate for South Asian people (28% before / 55% during).

“Honestly don’t think my mental health has ever been worse than this. I’ve been experiencing semi-frequent suicidal ideation which is not usual for me and before lockdown I hadn’t had a panic attack for months but now I have them every few days.” Freyja, 24


“I'm currently on lockdown with my family and I'm not out to them. it would be fine if I could talk to my friends but I can't so I'm feeling lonely and isolated. I'm not worried for my personal safety as I dont believe my family would be homophobic if I came out but I'm not ready to do that so it's difficult to hide it from them.”  Amy, 20


We asked people to rate how often they experienced depression before lockdown, and since lockdown began.

The number of LGBTQ+ people reporting regular depression has dramatically increased under lockdown.

Before lockdown 24% of LGBTQ+ people said they were depressed “very often” or “every day”. During lockdown this increases to 43%.

The Breakdown:

Young people experienced the largest increases in "very often" or "every day" depression, which more than doubled in people aged 18-24 (18-24 year olds 23% before/ 49% during , Under 18s 31% before / 49% during).

The number of gay people experiencing regular depression doubled (15% before / 31% during). Pansexual people started with higher rates, and rates almost doubled (30% before / 56% during).

Depression among black LGBTQ+ people almost doubled during lockdown (26% before/ 50% during). White LGBTQ+ reported lower rates before and during lockdown (24% before / 43% during).

Trans and gender diverse people reported higher rates of "very often" or "every day" depression than their cis counterparts: (trans and g/d 23% before / 66% during, cis 20% before / 51% during).

For more detailed breakdowns by age / sexual identity / ethnicity / gender identity, click here to download the full graphs.

“My depression has increased due to an increase in dysphoria - not being able to go outside as myself has had a negative impact, even though I am lucky enough to be myself at home (and to a much greater extent than outside the home!)” Elijah, 23


“I've struggled with being misgendered by my family and have found it had to keep in contact with my friends because of my depression.” Ryan, 18


“Online school has been the most triggering thing about lockdown for me. The change in routine has made me unsure more often and so triggered anxiety more often. I often get depressed from being left alone for long periods of time, which is happening more often sure to lockdown.” Dora 15


We asked people to rate how often they experienced anxiety before lockdown, and since lockdown began.

Rates of anxiety have also dramatically increased since lockdown began.

Before lockdown, 34% of LGBTQ+ people said they experienced anxiety “very often” or “every day”. During lockdown this increases to 50%.

The Breakdown:

Young people reported the highest rates of anxiety overall during lockdown, considerably higher than older people. 25-34 year old’s reported the biggest increase in “very often” or “every day” (22% before / 48% during). 

Under 18s had the highest levels of anxiety before and during lockdown (47% before / 54% during).

Anxiety in Black people almost doubled (31% before / 57% during), a bigger increase than South Asian people (24% before / 42% during) and white people 35% before / 50% during).

Trans and gender diverse people had higher rates of anxiety before and during lockdown than cis people: trans and GD (43% before /  61% during), cis (Cis 31% / 45%).

Anxiety rose among all sexual identities, with lesbian and bisexual people experiencing some of the highest levels: (gay 24% before / 39% during, lesbian 37% before / 51% during, bisexual 36% before / 54% during).

For more detailed breakdowns by age / sexual identity / ethnicity / gender identity, click here to download the full graphs.

“I had only begun deeply questioning my gender identity with the time and isolation that lockdown brought. I essentially went through the extremely stressful and the incredibly emotionally taxing event of coming out as gender fluid but without actual being able to go out and escape my home, which I reside with my parents who I cannot come out to.” Lugh, 21


“At the start, I struggled with anxiety, as I didn't know how long the lockdown would go on for. I would feel depressed about two times a week, because I felt isolated and lonely. I have been working from home since the start of lockdown, which has also had an affect on my depression and feelings of isolation. During school holidays it has been particularly difficult, because of lack of structure in the week. But I do feel like things have improved since then, now at the end of May I haven't felt depressed for two weeks, which is significant.” Jack, 27 


We asked people to rate how often they experienced loneliness before lockdown, and since lockdown began.

There has been an explosion in loneliness. Before lockdown 21% of LGBTQ+ people said they experienced loneliness “very often” or “every day”. During lockdown this more than doubles to 56%.

The Breakdown:

It’s clear that young people have borne the brunt of the epidemic in loneliness produced by lockdown.

Loneliness more than doubled in under 18s who reported staggering levels of “very often” or “every day” loneliness during lockdown (28% before / 67% during). Ages 35-44 started and ended at lower levels (14% before / 39% during).

Lesbians and bisexual people reported bigger increases in “very often” or “every day” loneliness than gay men (bisexual 23% before / 61% after, lesbian 24% before / 61% during, gay 15% before, 43% during).

Trans and gender diverse people reported a bigger increase than cis people: (trans and g/d 23% before /  66% during, ciis 20% before / 51% during).

South Asian people reported the biggest increase in “very often” or “every day” loneliness (almost three fold), though all ethnicities reported large increases: (South Asian 23% before / 61% during, Black 20% before / 53% during, white 21% before / 56% during).

For more detailed breakdowns by age / sexual identity / ethnicity / gender identity, click here to download the full graphs. 

“I'm currently on lockdown with my family and I'm not out to them. it would be fine if I could talk to my friends but I can't so I'm feeling lonely and isolated. I'm not worried for my personal safety as I dont believe my family would be homophobic if I came out but I'm not ready to do that so it's difficult to hide it from them.” Amy, 20


“Coming out to my parents certainly helped matters, but I'm in social shielding and after eight weeks the loneliness is crippling.” Sofia 27


“High risk so unable to leave home and having to distance from partner who I live with. Not being able to speak with friends and family combined with not being about to spend much time in the same room as partner has left me pretty lonely and anxiety has worsened.” Olivia


We asked people to rate how often they self-harmed before lockdown, and since lockdown began.

Lockdown appears to have polarised rates of self harm: numbers reporting they never self harmed went up, but so did numbers reporting self harm “very often” or “every day”.

Before lockdown 6% of LGBTQ+ people reported self-harming “very often” or “every day”. During Lockdown this increases to 9%.

The Breakdown:

Rates of LGBTQ+ people never self harming increased from 49% before lockdown, to 61% during lockdown.

Under 18s reported the most “very often” or “every day” self-harm during lockdown, but their rates didn’t increase dramatically: (11% before / 14% during).

The biggest increase in age groups was in 18-24 year olds, where rates more than quadrupled (2% before / 9% during).

Gay and lesbian people showed a two-fold increase in regular self harm (gay 2% before / 4% during, lesbian 6% before / 12% during).

Trans and gender diverse people showed a bigger increase in “very often” or “every day” self harm, and more of this self-harm overall during lockdown than cis people (trans and g/d 8% before / 15% during, cis 5% before, 7% during).

Black people showed the highest rates of self harm overall during lockdown versus their South Asian and white counterparts: (Black 8% before / 12% during, South Asian 8% before / 8% during, white 6% before / 8% during).

For more detailed breakdowns by age / sexual identity / ethnicity / gender identity, click here to download the full graphs.

“I have had serious mental health problems in the past but these have been well managed for the 2.5 years i’ve been in recovery. since lockdown i’ve had my first psychotic episode since i got clean, self harmed for the first time in 2 years, and have been tired all the time. things are getting better now but it’s really hard to maintain a good routine.” Felix, 30


“I don't know how, but I've felt the best I have in five years. I don't have to worry about what people I go to school with think about me, or if they're going to bully me for being Bi. I get to spend more time with my dog and my immediate family. It's actually a lot nicer than I thought staying at home would be like...I haven't self harmed once. I've been clean all quarantine!” Hayden, 15 


We asked people about how lockdown had interrupted their access to medical advice, medical appointments and medications.

15% of LGBTQ+ people experienced interruption to medication access as a result of lockdown.

39% of LGBTQ+ people missed medical appointments as a result of lockdown.

46% of LGTQ+ people experienced interruption to medical advice access as a result of lockdown.

The Breakdown:

For trans and gender diverse people, these figures were higher, and written responses made it clear that lack of access to medical treatments, especially hormones and gender identity specialists, has affected them massively.

47% of trans / gender diverse people missed medical appointments vs 35% of cis people.

56% of trans / gender diverse had access to medical advice interrupted vs 41% of cis people..

19% of trans / gender diverse people went without medications vs 14% of cis people.

“Was going to begin hormones but it has been delayed by a few months which is a long time when you’ve waited to turn 18 your whole life to go on them, I not have a July appointment but it is very much a ‘play by ear’ situation.” Liam


“Lost therapy because of lockdown and lost meds because they weren’t considered ‘essential or urgent’ during the strain on the medical system caused by COVID-19. This significantly worsened my condition.” Jacob, 20


“My anxiety has worsened and I was unable to get my medication for a short time. I already had generalised anxiety disorder but have now developed health anxiety/hypochondria as well” Ryan, 22


“Lack of therapy has lead to my OCD to become worse. My college work has become overwhelming and my family has been fighting more often.” Tara 16


We asked LGBTQ+ people how often they were exercising during lockdown, and whether they were exercising more or less than usual.

20% of LGBTQ+ people reported exercising “once a month” or “less than once a month” during lockdown.

44% of LGBTQ+ people reported exercising less during lockdown. 30% reported exercising more, and 26% reported exercising the same amount as usual.

The Breakdown:

More South Asian people reported exercising ”once a month” or “less than once a month” during lockdown than their black or white counterparts (South Asian, Black 23%, white 19%).

More trans and gender diverse people reported irregular exercise than cis people. (trans and GD 22%, cis 18%)

For more detailed breakdowns by age / sexual identity / ethnicity / gender identity, click here to download the full graphs.


Alcohol

We asked LGBTQ+ people how often they were drinking during lockdown, and whether they were drinking more or less than usual.

Excluding those who are unable to buy alcohol legally (17 years and below):

44% of LGBTQ+ people said they drank the same amount as usual during lockdown.

33% of LGBTQ+ people said they were drinking more during lockdown.

23% of LGBTQ+ people said the were drinking less during lockdown.

25% of LGBTQ+ people said they were drinking a few times a week during lockdown.

9% of LGBTQ+ people said they were drinking every day during lockdown.

Less than 1% of LGBTQ+ people said they had accessed drug or alcohol services since lockdown began.

The Breakdown:

A third of gay people reported drinking “a few times a week” or “every day” (33%), the highest of any sexual identity. For lesbians this was 23%.

45-54 year-olds reported the highest amount of “a few times a week” or “every day” drinking (54%). 

White people reported drinking more than Black or South Asian people: white (white 33%, South Asian 18%, Black 23%)

For more detailed breakdowns by age / sexual identity / ethnicity / gender identity, click here to download the full graphs.

Drugs

We asked LGBTQ+ people how often they were taking drugs during lockdown and whether they were using drugs more or less than usual.

7% of LGBTQ+ people said they were taking drugs more during lockdown.

21% of LGBTQ+ people said they were taking fewer drugs less during lockdown.

72% of LGBTQ+ people said they were taking the same amount of drugs as usual.

5% of LGBTQ+ people reported taking drugs “a few times a week” or “every day” during lockdown.

We then asked those who were using drugs, which drugs they were using during lockdown. Putting together all responses, their popularity was as following:

  • Cannabis 65.96%
  • Other (please specify) 29.43%
  • Cocaine 9.57%
  • Ecstasy 6.38%
  • Other psychedelics  4.61%
  • Ketamine 4.26%
  • Crystal meth 3.90%
  • LSD 3.90%
  • GHB 3.19%
  • Heroin 2.84%
  • Mephedrone 2.48%


We asked LGBTQ+ people whether they had experienced violence or abuse since lockdown began, where the violence took place, and what kind of violence it was.

15% of LGBTQ+ people reported experiencing violence and abuse since lockdown began.

Of these, 85% of LGBTQ+ people said the violence was purely emotional, 1% said purely physical, 13% said a mixture of both.

91% of LGBTQ+ people experiencing violence and abuse said this occurred in the home. 9% said it occurred in a public space.

The Breakdown:

LBT+ women reported higher rates of abuse than GBT+ men (LBT+ women 16%, GBT+ men 12%).

Bi-gender and non-binary people reported extremely high rates of experiencing violence and abuse during lockdown (bi-gender 36%, non-binary 20%)

Black and South Asian LGBTQ+ people reported twice as much violence and abuse as their white counterparts (South Asian 34%, Black 32%, White 14%)

One in five LGBTQ+ people under 18 reported experiencing violence and abuse during lockdown (21%). For those aged 45-54 the figure was 6%.

Trans and gender diverse people reported twice as much violence and abuse during lockdown than cis people.(trans and gender diverse 22%, cis 12%).

For more detailed breakdowns by age / sexual identity / ethnicity / gender identity, click here to download the full graphs.

“I live with an emotionally abusive parent who makes me feel scared of many things, especially failing college which I currently feel too depressed to work towards, and I have to hide my gender identity concerns from him.” Rowan, 19


“Two of my neighbours have started shouting homophobic abuse at me when they see me on the street. I am going out much less. I'm staying indoors sometimes more than a week at a time.” Neale 48


 “My parents have an extremely toxic relationship and are constantly using me as a tool to go between them. My sister is also incredibly abusive and I have had to do with the aftermath of her ripping into my step mom. The constant passive aggression gets directed at me a lot, on top of the general emotional abuse I get for being a gay trans man.” Andy, 19


We asked LGBTQ+ people whether they had felt at risk of homelessness during lockdown, and whether they had moved house, or actually become homeless.

8% of LGBTQ+ people reported feeling at risk of homelessness since lockdown began.

9% have had to move house for fears of their safety, eviction, or other reason.

1% have actually become homeless

The Breakdown:

18-34 year olds were most likely to feel at risk of homelessness (12%).

Trans and gender diverse were also more likely to feel at risk of homelessness than cis people (trans and g/d 12%, cis 8%).

Black LGBTQ+ people were also much more likely to feel at risk of homelessness than South Asian or white LGBTQ+ people (Black 15%, South Asian 9%, White 9%).

For more detailed breakdowns by age / sexual identity / ethnicity / gender identity, click here to download the full graphs.

"Required by person I was staying with to be silent on LGBTQI issues, and not to affirm trans family member. Horrible to have my voice taken as a condition of shelter. Had to find a way to leave” Nell


“Stepfather and Stepsister kicked me out. Currently homeless. Sleeping on my aunts couch. Its causing issues for her now... so... idk what will happen” Edward 20


“I live above the business I run. It is not going to survive the pandemic, and I will have to move, as I will lose all of my savings, a source of income, and accommodation simultaneously” Domi, 28


Ian Howley, the Chief Executive of LGBT HERO, the parent organisation of OutLife commented on the results of this survey. He said, "It's without any doubt that COVID-19, and the lockdown it brought, has negatively affected LGBTQ+ people. The results are clear and we can see the impact it has had on our community. However, the results must be used to find better ways to support LGBTQ+ people. We need to find better ways to support people to tackle the high numbers of people who are suffering from depression, anxiety and loneliness. We also need to find better ways to support those who are experiencing both physical and emotional abuse. Young LGBTQ+ people are also in need of better support systems as they are the ones who are suffering the most. And we must do better to support black, Asian and other minorities who are disproportionately affected during this time.

Ian continues, "Although we are entering a period where lockdown has eased there is no guarantee that we won't be back in the same situation as April and May. It's important that we future proof our support systems to make sure we can better respond to those who need it. It's our recommendation that we build these support systems now rather than later. We need to be able to support those who are suffering from mental wellbeing issues, feeling isolated or alone and those who are in dangerous living situations. We hope these results will help build these systems. But it's not just about now. The impact of this virus will likely have long-term health and wellbeing issues for many people, it's important that we continue to monitor how LGBTQ+ people are doing and continue to shape our services to meet their needs."

Ian calls on the government for more support. He said, “To do this we need the government to step in and support LGBTQ+ charities who are doing this work. Although the government has released funds for non-profits during the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t go far enough and charities, like ourselves, tend to fly under the radar and miss out on a lot of the funding that’s available. OutLife was designed to be an online first response in supporting those who need information, advice and support, especially during a crisis like we are living through today. It supports over 50,000 LGBTQ+ a month. It’s important LGBTQ+ services, like OutLife, survive so we all can continue to be there for LGBTQ+ people when they need us.