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Loneliness and being LGBTQ+

We all feel lonely at times – it’s a natural human emotion. We're biologically wired for social contact, and loneliness is our signal that we need more. 


Loneliness is a common feeling, but everyone’s experiences of loneliness are different and unique to them.


You don’t have to be on your own to feel lonely - you might feel lonely in a relationship or while spending time with friends or family, on social media, in a city or in at university. You can feel lonely if you feel like you are not being acknowledged or understood by those around you.

 

Loneliness is more common amongst LGBTQ+ people and can take its toll on both your mind and body.


“There are literally fewer LGBTQI+ people than heterosexual people,” says Charlotte Fountaine, co-founder of the queer mental health app Kalda. “Finding a partner and finding friends who share your identity is statistically harder, so that can be isolating on a very literal level. The journey to understand your identity can be very lonely. This rejection can become internalised, so then we’re less likely to seek relationships or trust those around us.”



LGBTQ+ loneliness


Why are LGBTQ+ people more likely to be lonely?


LGBTQ+ people are more likely to feel lonely than heterosexual people. This loneliness can stem from a variety of factors, such as feeling disconnected from family, or challenges in finding people to confide in and connect with in a meaningful way.


LGBTQ+ people are also more likely to face discrimination due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, which can lead to feelings of isolation and difficulties getting close to other people.


Research also shows that LGBTQ+ people are especially vulnerable to loneliness. This could be due to a being part of a community which is increasingly centered around younger people. Studies also suggest that older LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be single, live alone and have lower levels of contact with relatives.


LGBT HERO’s LGBTQ+ Lockdown Wellbeing Report found that before the pandemic, 21% of LGBTQ+ people said they experienced loneliness “very often” or “every day,” but during lockdown this more than doubled to 56%. 


LGBTQ+ young people are twice as likely to feel lonely and more than twice as likely to worry daily about their mental health than their non-LGBT+ peers, new research by Just Like Us has found.



LGBTQ+ loneliness


Angela's* story

I've always enjoyed being surrounded by people and never had much trouble making friends. From an early age, I thrived in social settings and never really experienced the kind of loneliness that comes from being physically alone.


But, my sexuality introduced a different kind of loneliness. For me, loneliness stems from feeling isolated in my experiences, feeling distant from those who don't share or understand my reality.


Growing up queer, this feeling of isolation often hit me when I was with my straight friends. Conversations about boys, dressing in traditionally feminine ways, and entering straight relationships were constant reminders of how different I was.


Even in a crowded party, my identity made me feel lonely, not the lack of people around me.


As I grew older, I found ways to cope with this unique loneliness. Being a film enthusiast, I started watching queer films. I realised that seeing characters who mirrored my experiences helped me feel less lonely. University life brought me into contact with incredible LGBT friends who understood my experiences. Their presence made my loneliness less noticeable as we navigated our life and our identities together.


*Name changed to protect anonymity



LGBTQ+ loneliness


How to manage feelings of loneliness

Loneliness can often feel overwhelming and something out of our control, so it can be useful to have a starting point. To help you and others to feel less lonely we have framed it into three parts...

  1. Acknowledge loneliness in yourself or others

  2. Identify what you or they need

  3. Take the appropriate action


Read the full guide on our website here: Three Step Approach


There is absolutely no shame in feeling lonely and changing the language around loneliness is a positive and liberating step forward. The more we talk about it, the more we normalise it and we can move towards a society where it can be spoken about openly.


If you’ve been feeling lonely for a long time, make an appointment to see your GP to make sure that you are getting the right support.



Don't miss...

The excellent resources on this page of the 42nd Street website, a Manchester young people’s mental health charity.



We also love...

We have recently discovered Opening Doors London, a charity providing services and support to older LGBT people in the UK runs over 45 social activities every month, runs a Befriending Service, and provides training on a range of ageing and LGBT issues.



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