The Gay Women’s Health Crisis

by Dish Staff

Well Being Gallup

Shannon Keating flags a recent Gallup survey on well-being that shows “queer women lag behind straight women where queer men do not lag behind straight men as much – or even at all”:

Differences in physical well-being between straight and queer men, for example, are too small to be statistically significant; the overall deficit in physical well-being for the LGBTQ community at large is driven entirely by the low scores of queer women (24 percent to straight women’s 36 percent). Gallup indicates that reportedly high levels of smoking and drinking among lesbians and bi women could be a potential contributor to the discrepancy. I’ve seen from accompanying girlfriends on many a smoke break outside of bars how cigarettes and alcohol remain an obstinate fixture of queer girl culture.

Further, where queer men assess their communities with close to as much contentedness as straight men, queer women feel less connected to where they live than their straight female counterparts. Just 31 percent of queer women feel they are thriving in terms of community involvement, safety, and security, a full 9 percent less than straight women.

A recent national survey from Stop Street Harassment helps explain why queer women feel unsafe. The major finding – that two-thirds of American women have experienced street harassment at some point in their lives – is bolstered by two smaller key findings: Seven in 10 LGBT people have experienced street harassment by age 17, compared to 49 percent of straight people, and 41 percent of people of color say they experience street harassment regularly, compared to just a quarter of white people.

Relatedly, a reader flags this item:

A federal study to determine why 75 percent of lesbian women are obese and gay men are not has totaled nearly $3 million. … Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have come to several conclusions since studying “the striking interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities,” which is slated to last until 2016. They have determined that gay and bisexual males had a “greater desire for toned muscles” than straight men, lesbians have lower “athletic self-esteem” that may lead to higher rates of obesity, and that lesbians are more likely to see themselves at a healthy weight even though they are not, the Free Beacon reported.

Update from a reader:

It astonishes me that anyone can look at those numbers and only see a crisis for gay women. True, they are the worst off by a big margin – I am not trying to minimize the main point of the article at all. But almost as shocking is the 6- to 8-point gap between men and straight women. Why is it not even mentioned that men generally are much worse off than women in this regard? (At ~5% of the female population, the lesbian numbers would bring women’s overall score down by about half a percent.)

Possibly because the suffering of men tends to get erased in favor of focusing on the suffering of women? Just saying, the fact that the male population as a whole is significantly less healthy than the female is also a big. fucking. deal, and one that affects far more people in absolute numbers. I guess us dudes are just so privileged to get to live sicker and die sooner.