Respect Equality

Negative health effects of COVID-19 pandemic continue to weigh more heavily on LGBTQ+ people of color

“This study reiterates what we have long known—those living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities have borne the brunt of this pandemic and continue to do so.”
Getty Images, Yuichiro Chino

Story at a glance


  • The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a disproportionate negative effect on LGBTQ+ people of color, according to a report released Thursday by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

  • Close to 20 percent of LGBTQ+ adults said they had tested positive for COVID-19 more than once, with respondents of color roughly twice as likely to have done so than white respondents.

  • More than 90 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents said the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.

LGBTQ+ people of color are bearing the brunt of negative health impacts linked to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published Thursday by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national LGBTQ+ rights organization.

A third of LGBTQ+ adults reported testing positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to the report, including 42 percent of Latino respondents. That compares with 32 percent of Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI), 31 percent of Black, 30 percent of white and 29 percent of multiracial LGBTQ+ respondents.

Nearly 18 percent of LGBTQ+ adults said they had tested positive for COVID-19 more than once, with respondents of color roughly twice as likely to have done so than their white counterparts.


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Among Latino LGBTQ+ respondents, more than 1 in 5 said they had tested positive for COVID-19 two or more times. That number sank only marginally among AANHPI (21 percent), Black (20 percent) and multiracial LGBTQ+ adults (19 percent).

Just 10 percent of white LGBTQ+ adults said they had tested positive for COVID-19 on more than two occasions.

“This study reiterates what we have long known—those living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities have borne the brunt of this pandemic and continue to do so,” Jay Brown, vice president of programs, research and training at the HRC, said Thursday.

Overall, more than 90 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents said the pandemic has had a negative effect on their mental health, with 36 percent reporting “only negative impacts” and 53 percent reporting “both negative and positive impacts.”

Less than 2 percent of LGBTQ+ adults said the pandemic has had “only positive impacts” on their mental health.

Studies of the pandemic’s effect on mental health more broadly have found that most U.S. adults believe stress and worry tied to COVID-19 have affected them negatively. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year reported that, between August 2020 and February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of a depressive or anxiety disorder increased from 36.4 percent to 41.5 percent.

Still, LGBTQ+ adults are more likely to characterize the negative effect on their mental health as “major.”

According to Thursday’s HRC Foundation report, despite high demand, more than half (56 percent) of LGBTQ+ respondents reported an unmet need for mental health counseling.

Most (58 percent) said they did not receive desired mental health services because cost concerns or other financial barriers prevented them from doing so, while a smaller but still significant (26 percent) of respondents said they were unable to find an LGBTQ+ inclusive mental health provider.