3Qs at U with Science Sam: Peter Newman on LGBTQ communities and COVID-19

The public health response to the global pandemic has called on everyone to change their lives considerably. But it has had an unequal effect on different communities – including people who are LGBTQ.

In episode five of 3Qs at the U, Samantha Yammine – a University of Toronto alumna, neuroscientist and science communicator better known as Science Sam on social media – speaks with Peter Newman, a professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, about how our “one size fits all” approach to the pandemic risks further marginalizing those who are LGBTQ.

“LGBTQ communities were experiencing a lot of disparities in terms of health and public health before this pandemic ever existed,” Newman says. “Telling people certain things about staying at home and avoiding contact with people outside the home is a very different experience … and it’s not considered in terms of how might this impact them.”

As an example, Newman cites the scenario of a gay man who is living with his partner, but has avoided telling his family about the arrangement because he hasn’t come out to them: “Now that they’re both stuck at home, how are they going to do that?”

He adds, however, that the LGBTQ community has built up “tremendous strength” in response to decades-long challenges like HIV. “I would venture to say we know how to do pandemics, actually … and the experience of the community is really, really important in terms of how we navigate this one,” Newman says.

3Qs at the U is a weekly video series in which Yammine asks a U of T researcher three questions on a timely topic. It’s produced by U of T Scarborough interactive digital producer Cory Lawrence.

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