As progressive as today’s society has become, bigotry and discrimination are still common issues faced amongst minority groups from outsiders, especially the LGBTQ+ community. The LGBTQ+ community has a long and violent history of targeted hatred due to religious and conservative beliefs. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2003. Presidents such as President Bush openly opposed this sentiment, going as far as introducing a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.
Marriage equality was only achieved in 2013 after the Supreme Court ruling in Hollingsworth vs. Perry. The Fair Housing Act was only upheld in 2020 during a Supreme Court ruling that prohibited landlords from discriminating on the basis of sexual identity or gender. However, though bills and amendments have been passed at state and federal levels, this is not to say the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t face discrimination and prejudice still.
Only recently, there has been an overwhelming hatred from more right-wing identifying individuals against transgender individuals. The hatred was largely apparent when beer company, Budlight, featured a new transgender partnership with Dylan Mulvaney. Following this commercial, many conservative and unaccepting people were seen posting videos and pictures of them on social media going into stores and throwing Bud Light cans or damaging and draining any cans they had laying around.
Binge drinking, alcoholism, and alcohol abuse rates are 20% to 25% in the LGBTQ+ community compared to 5-10% alcohol abuse rates in heterosexual communities. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, gay, bisexual, and lesbian individuals- specifically adolescents- are 90% more likely to use drugs and alcohol than hetrosexual adolescents. In a society that prides itself in being more accepting than past generations, why are members of the LGBTQ+ community still at higher risk of alcohol-related problems?
A few reasons the LGBTQ+ community is still at higher risk of alcohol-related problems are as follows: minority stress, discrimination and hatred, having to be closeted and having little to no support system. All these factors can cause severe emotional distress, anxiety, depression, fear, and low self esteem. This leads many to turn to alcohol in attempts to self medicate. Drinking is also a big part in LGBTQ+ history, as in the past, the only place many of these individuals could openly be themselves were in bars catered to their identities.
– Minority Stress: Minority stress is the high levels of stress experienced by minority and marginalized groups. This type of stress can have a huge impact on sense of identity, and can cause mental disorders on top of alcohol abuse.
– Discrimination and Hatred: It is no secret that there are still a handful of less tolerant regions in America where discrimination and hatred run rampant against LGBTQ+ identifying indviduals. Work environment, legal protections, youth and family support, health access and safety, and religious and political attitudes are all factors that play into how inclusive a state is in regards to this community. States such as Florida, Montana, and South Carolina have some of the lowest ranking for inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community, fueling discrimination and hatred against these individuals.
– Having to be Closeted/ Having Little to no Support System: As accepting as we as a collective society have become, there is a large percentage of the world that is very against the LGBTQ+ community. Individuals of this community may be sent to conversion camps by their families and loved ones if they reveal their true selves in hopes of them changing to fit into a box. In other countries, individuals may even be sent to prison or executed for expressing themselves. Reasons like these and many others are why many still have to be closeted. They have little to no support system around them, so they turn to drugs and alcohol to find comfort.
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