By the Michigan LGBTQ+ Community Centers Network
The coronavirus poses an increased risk to the LGBTQ+ population and statewide leadership is helping to share organizational steps to address attempts to reduce its spread. Seven organizations have gathered to address the wellbeing of Michigan residents and the impact of the global concern of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Leadership from Michigan's newly established LGBTQ+ Community Centers Network is reaching out today to alert our communities regarding the increased vulnerabilities that exist within our populations.
LGBTQ+ people's increased vulnerability is a direct result of three factors:
- The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50 percent higher than the general population. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
- The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
- LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then.
- LGBTQ+ seniors are a large segment of our community and are at greater risk.
Each center is monitoring and assessing their own unique circumstances and local communities. Educational resources and opportunities will be available on various social media platforms, public forums and through one-on-one engagements as possible. Additional methods of communication may be available in the future.
Communities are encouraged to contact their local center directly for more information about upcoming programs and events. Contact information for the seven Michigan organizations that initiated this letter are as follows:
Affirmations (Ferndale): [email protected]
LGBT Detroit: [email protected]
OutCenter of Southwest Michigan: [email protected]
OutFront Kalamazoo: [email protected]
Perceptions (Great Lakes Bay Region): [email protected]
Polestar LGBT+ Community Center (Traverse City): [email protected]
Ruth Ellis Center: [email protected]