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79% of LGBT+ women feel less visible than gay men

79% of LGBT+ women feel less visible than gay men

  • And 37% of moms say their children have been victims of homophobia because they are LGBT+.
Two LGBT+ women.

Most LGBT+ women feel less visible in public life than gay men and many feel LGBT+ events are not right for them.

That’s the result of an online survey of 1,559 women, mostly from the UK, ahead of Lesbian Visibility Day on Satuday (26 April). It marks the start of a new Lesbian Visibility Week today.

It also found 86% of women are open about their sexuality to close friends. Moreover, 78% are out to everyone or most people in their family with just 7% not out to any family members.

The survey says most women now come out aged 18. However, the range varied widely with one person reporting they came at 10-years-old and another when they were 74.

Despite this, just 55% felt able to kiss, hold hands or show affection to a same-sex partner in public in general. Another 36% only felt able to do so in a few places and 8% weren’t confident in doing so at all.

When women have encountered physical or verbal abuse because of their sexual orientation, it has mostly been in bars, pubs or nightclubs (37%) or other public spaces (37%).

However, women have also faced verbal or physical abuse on public transport (23%) or at school, college or uni (20%).

LGBT+ women’s visibility

One of the clearest results is that 79% feel LGBT+ women are less visible in public life than gay, bi and trans men.

Perhaps, related to that 40% feel men dominate LGBT+ events. And another 44% say there are not enough LGBT+ events for women.

As a result, most women rarely or never go to LGBT+ events. The survey found 19% of women never attend community events. And another 44% only go to one every few months or once or twice a year. Just 21% attend an LGBT+ event regularly – weekly or monthly.

Researchers asked what events women would like. And dating, speed dating and religious events scored highest, with more than three quarters of women interested. Sports events were close behind, with 71% of women wanting to attend.

Likewise, over 92% of women don’t go on LGBT+ focused trips or holidays. However, over 60% would go on a female-only trip or holiday.

Men dominate workplace events and networks

The survey also found that most women are out at work.

When it comes to sexual orientation at work, 76% of women say they are out to everyone or most people. And a further 15% are open about their sexuality with some colleagues.

Those numbers are slightly lower when it comes to people’s gender identity, indicating that trans women still find it tougher to be out. Just 49% are open to everyone or most people at work about their gender identity. However, a further 20% are out to some colleagues.

Just over 27% of women said people had made them feel uncomfortable at work because of their sexuality. But that figure rose to over 46% when researchers asked the same question about gender identity.

Most feel socially accepted at work and don’t feel their sexual orientation has hurt their career. On the other hand, the women are more likely to report that LGBT+ staff networks and events are male dominated.

Survey confirms some homophobes even target kids

The researchers also discovered women are struggling with poor mental health. Academic research has previously identified that all LGBT+ people are more likely to have problems with mental health, anxiety and depression.

Over a third of the women in the survey are concerned about their mental health. And 43% suffer stress or anxiety. As a result 31% accessed mental health services in the last 12 months and another 6% tried to access those services but weren’t able to.

Researchers asked the women to put themselves on a scale from zero (not at all happy) to 10 (completely happy). The average score was 6.61.

The researchers conducted the survey before the coronavirus lockdown in the UK. So it is likely some people’s mental health may be poorer now.

When it comes to parenting, 22% of women in the survey have children and another quarter would like to in future.

However, 37% of the moms say other parents have been homophobic towards them. And the same number say their children have been victims of homophobia because they are LGBT+.

Moreover, the vast majority of women in the survey favor natural means, IVF or non-medical insemination to have kids. Few are going down the route of adoption or fostering.

The survey was conducted by DIVA Media Group and Kantar.

Help and support

As the survey confirms, many LGBT+ people struggle with poor mental health. But there is help if you just reach out.

You can find a list of LGBT+ resources and helplines all around the world here. Please note, some of the helplines may have different operating hours during the pandemic.