The Atlantic Monthly published a piece by Shannon Keating about LGBTQ people in the USA, who on average are feeling happier and healthier after a wave of successful legislation, legal victories, and social acceptance. But while there has been good news, seems that there is inequality among us, especially when it comes to our well being, especially when it comes to queer women.
… a new Gallup poll investigating LGBT well-being shows that queers aren’t doing so well—especially women. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans report significantly lower well-being than non-LGBT Americans, averaging a well-being index score of 58 against straight citizens’ 62. Queer women widen the well-being divide more so than our gay male compatriots; with an index score of 57, lesbians and bi women notably lag behind straight women, who average a score of 63.
In looking at the reasons, turns out, no surprise, queer women suffer from the very same challenges and awful circumstances that make life hard for straight women. There is an earning gap between men–gay and straight–and women. Queer women, like many women, feel less job security than men too. Queer and straight women also experience sexual harassment in pretty much equal measure. There is one area though in which queer women and straight women do not share in the oppression: a thriving sense of purpose.
The most depressing category of well-being is also perhaps too abstract to address directly: the substantial gap between queer and straight women who report a strong sense of purpose in life. When it comes to having an inspiring leader, daily activities, goals, and strengths, queer men and straight men are on the same page of satisfaction: 33 percent across both groups feel a thriving sense of purpose. Queer women, however, fare eight percentage points lower, at 32 percent, than straight women, at 40 percent. There’s no obvious supporting statistic to explain this; one hopes we will soon experience social shifts that will legitimize and celebrate queer womanhood—in politics, in media, in streets, and schools, and homes—so that more queer women can start feeling like they lead lives of value and beauty.
What writer Shannon Keating utterly fails to do in this article though is to highlight how the difficulties and outright misery increases for queer women of color, trans* women, and especially trans* women of color. If you have ever attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance held every year on November 20th, you will know that the vast amount of LGBTQ people routinely and violently attacked and killed are trans* women of color.
Depending on what you look like, what you have, your gender, and how you present that gender, you know just how much or little “It Gets Better.” Those of us in this LGBTQ rainbow collective (aka gay community) so often celebrated in gay and mainstream publications, need to embrace diversity among ourselves. We need to see the broad varied groups of people that are LGBTQ and highlight the intersectional identities that make up our fellow queers. In a world where racism, classism, and sexism still hinder people’s happiness and well being, we must not be so caught up in marriage equality victories and our homogeneous queer enclaves, that we lose sight of where the struggles rages on.