How coronavirus hits LGBTQ people of color hardest

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LGBTQ people of color are more likely than white LGBTQ people and the general population to have their work hours reduced, lose their jobs and ask for delays in paying bills due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study.

The study findings, released by the Human Rights Campaign and the PSB Research Bureau in May, did not surprise local LGBTQ leaders of color. State Rep. Renitta Shannon (photo top left), a Democrat from Decatur, said it’s due to racial disparities in employment and health care.

“When you look at the fact that only one in five Black/Brown people on average have jobs that could transition to work from home, and that we are disproportionately represented in the uninsured population and overrepresented in the population of retail and minimum wage workers who have kept our grocery stores open, etc., it’s not hard to see how this would affect Black and Brown communities in disproportionately negative ways,” she told Project Q Atlanta.

“When white America gets a cold, Black and Brown America ends up in the ICU,” she added.

Thirty-eight percent of LGBTQ people have had their work hours reduced due to the pandemic, compared to 29 percent of white LGBTQ people and 24 percent of the general population, according to the study. Twenty-two percent of LGBTQ people of color lost their jobs due to the pandemic, compared to 14 percent of white LGBTQ people and 13 percent of the general population.

Further, 19 percent of LGBTQ people of color are more likely to have asked for delays in paying bills due to the pandemic, compared to 14 percent of white LGBTQ people and 12 percent of the general population.

People of color overall are three times as likely to become infected with coronavirus as white people, and people of color are nearly twice as likely to die from the virus as white people, according to the New York Times.

“This does coincide with the data we are seeing with regards to the disparate impact of COVID-19 economic repercussions and the health impact on communities of color,” said Jerry Gonzalez (photo bottom left), executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

“Prioritizing these communities for support and outreach are essential to ensure equitable responses from government and philanthropy,” he added.

‘Clear, measurable objectives’ needed

The disparities can be seen here locally, according to Atlanta City Councilmember Antonio Brown (photo bottom right).

“The reality is when we talk about ‘Black Lives Matter,’ you have to also recognize that there is a demographic of some of the most vulnerable Black lives which are the LGBTQ community, especially the community in which we have a prominent number of young people specifically in this city that are living below the poverty line,” he said.

Policies must be enacted to close these economic and racial disparities, according to Shannon.

“This is what has to happen, otherwise we will just continue to be vulnerable to pandemics destroying lives,” she said.

“Clear, measurable objectives” must be created to address the disparities, according to HIV activist and THRIVE SS co-founder Daniel Driffin (photo top right).

“It’s ensuring that insurance for the uninsured is rising. It’s ensuring that folks have higher income and employment,” he said. “It’s ensuring that we actually have affordable housing for the poorest people that live in our communities. That’s the start.”

“Until we really have equity built into the system, we will continue to not be shocked when these reports come out,” he added.

This story is made possible through a grant from Facebook Journalism Project's COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund.

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