Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Queer Politics of a Pandemic: LGBTQ + People's Conceptions of COVID-19's Politicization

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Introduction: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ+) people have historically been at the center of contentious political debates in the United States. The pandemic's divisive politicization has created societal stress in both hindering mitigation efforts and exacerbating social marginalization. Research has examined relatively privileged groups' COVID beliefs; however, explorations are needed into ideological processes among those marginalized by COVID, such as LGBTQ+ people, to provide a holistic framework of queer politics.

Methods: Data come from in-depth interviews conducted with 43 LGBTQ+ people collected between October 2020 and January 2021. Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants from a larger survey on pandemic experiences.

Results: Through the "underdog" framework," LGBTQ+ people held strong convictions to science-informed political beliefs, which informed their critiques of inadequate government leadership. Participants also engaged in ideological resistance to harmful individualistic rhetoric through an emphasis on collectivism. The divisive politicization of the pandemic shaped numerous social stressors that LGBTQ+ people adapted to using various strategies to maintain their mental health.

Conclusions: Participants viewed American individualism and Christian nationalism as a public health threat that led to resistance to health and safety measures putting other people at risk. Findings support the underdog theory, with LGBTQ+ people elevating evidence-based science and disadvantaged groups' wellbeing by emphasizing social empathy as a collective good that supports community health.

Policy implications: Findings can inform policies and community programming that promotes equity across all social identities through the depoliticization of public health and centering LGBTQ+ people's capacity for resistance and resilience.


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Sex Res Social Policy