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LGBTQ+2S Resilience During the COVID Pandemic

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This summer, Age Friendly Seattle and the Saying It Out Loud Conference coordinated two online panel presentations related to COVID that were geared to people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or two-spirit (LGBTQ+2S). The first presentation (June 26) focused on lessons learned from the HIV/AIDS pandemic that help inform the COVID pandemic (see Lessons from the Past Offer Perspective for COVID Response). Last week (July 31), a similar panel discussed “LGBTQ+2S Resilience: Are we thriving or just surviving during the COVID pandemic?” Video-recorded, you can watch the entire program on YouTube.

“While older adults in marginalized communities often show remarkable resilience in spite of adversity, we know that many sexual and gender minority individuals struggle with mental health issues,” said Jason Johnson, Seattle Human Services Director. “Sheltering in place removes many of us from our only sources of social support. Anyone with HIV is in a high-risk category and still highly encouraged to stay home. Loneliness and depression are increasing, and it’s already well-documented that LGBTQ and Two-spirit people have suicide rates higher than the general population.”

The 90-minute presentation focused on varying perspectives on the effect of the COVID quarantine on the LGBTQ+2S community, particularly mental health, and discussed ways that the community can boost resilience now and in the future. The panel moderator was Aleksa Manila, a well-known drag performer. Panelists included:

  • George Dicks, a mental health practitioner at Harborview Medical Center
  • Mitchell Hunter, a member of the Seattle LGBTQ Commission
  • Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton, the first transgender person elected to a non-judicial position in California
  • Jeff Sakuma, a health integration specialist at City of Seattle Human Services Department
  • Ronni Sanlo, director emeritus of the UCLA LGBT Center
  • Jaylene Tyme, a First Nation (Skimay and Metis) trans woman and performance artist

The two LGBTQ+2S panels are among many virtual (online) events produced by Age Friendly Seattle this year, including Virtual Civic Coffee Hours and a new series called Close to Home: Stories of Health, Tech & Resilience. These are described on the Age Friendly Seattle Events webpage. Video-recordings make it possible for anyone unable to participate at the time of the event to learn more about the topic and about community resources. Visit and click the subscribe button to receive notification when new videos are posted.

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