Gay, Bisexual Men Having Less Sex During Pandemic

Nine Out of 10 Men Report Having One or No Sexual Partner in the Last 30 Days

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Vanderbilt University researchers studying the affects of COVID-19 on LGBTQ Americans have found that gay and bisexual men have had fewer sexual partners during the pandemic. 

Vanderbilt University Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health and Society Tara McKay spearheaded the study, and has recently focused her efforts on how COVID-19 is affecting economically and socially vulnerable populations. She recently partnered with the Metro Nashville government and Nashville Mayor John Cooper to share her research in a national webinar.

The team of experts collected data from April 10 to May 10, while most states had issued stay at home orders. Two thousand members of the LGBTQ+ community were asked about what changes they made to their sexual behavior during the pandemic. Of those, 760 were gay and bisexual men.

“Nine of 10 men in our sample reported having either one sexual partner or no sexual partner in the last 30 days, which, for many, was a substantial decrease compared to just before the pandemic,” the study found. “Men also made changes to the kinds of partners they had and their sexual activities with partners, engaged in new strategies to reduce their risks of infection from partners, and expressed high levels of concern about how HIV may affect COVID-19 risk, treatment and recovery.”

The study recruited participants using advertisements for LGBTQ adults aged 18 or older on two social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, and on the hook-up app Grindr.

McKay says in the study, adverse affects like job and wage loss were increased up to 7 percent higher among the population than data collected on their heterosexual counterparts in other studies. McKay says this could be an indication that more LGBTQ+ people work in disproportionately affected industries such as service, restaurant and creative.

McKay said that while most members of the LGBTQ+ community in their study are having less sex, some are masturbating a lot more, but a significant portion of the population is not having sex or masturbating as frequently as they were before the pandemic.

McKay’s research is also looking into food insecurity and barriers to healthcare access among other issues. She says information about the LGBTQ+ community is vital.

“If we don’t know what the specific need is, then government agencies can’t do much to fix it,” McKay said. “We already know the LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately affected, but without that data, we don’t know to what extent. Collecting that data would be the best place to start.”

Over 100 U.S. Congressmen sent a letter on May 20 calling on the Trump administration to collect information on the sexual orientations and gender identities of COVID-19 patients.

McKay also says trans folks in particular are having a lot more difficulty accessing healthcare and routine medications, according to their study reports. Other data she is working on is a current study on the older LGBTQ+ population, and finding out how people over 50 years old are being affected.

Read the entire study by clicking here.

This article has been supported by a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project for COVID-19 coverage.

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Brian Sullivan is a reporter for Out & About Nashville. He has served nearly 2 decades in the television industry, with over 20 years experience as a print and broadcast journalist. Sullivan is an Emmy Award Winning producer, writer, lobbyist, activist and marketing strategist. He is active in several campaigns raising awareness in addiction treatment, equality and mental healthcare. He received recognition as a Nashville Emerging Leader of the Year at the NELA Awards. He is an Executive Board Member of the Prevention Alliance of Tennessee, a member of DrugFree Wilco, the Williamson County Anti-Drug Coalition, the Memphis Area Prevention Alliance, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Facing Addiction, Fed Up!, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Center for Nonprofit Management, Music City Theatre Company, LGBTQI Nashvillians of Faith, Covenant of the Cross Ministries, Human Rights Campaign, HRC Nashville, Team Friendly Tennessee, Tennessee Equality Project, Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, Wilson County Anti-Drug Coalition, National Fraternal Order of Police, the Nashville Filmmakers Guild and is an ordained Minister. Sullivan is a proud donor of the Memphis Hope House, Nashville Cares, Covenant Cupboard Food Pantry, and Second Harvest Food Bank. He has worked extensively on projects with several major networks including Fox News Network, CNN, Time Magazine, Washington Post, New York Times, Inside Edition and Mic.