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Intersectionality and LGBTQIA+

Being LGBTQIA+ can interact with other parts of who we are – such as our age, race or religion. 

These interactions can shape our experiences – including negative things, like discrimination and social exclusion. The interaction between these experiences and parts of our identity is sometimes called 'intersectionality'.

Those of us who are LGBTQIA+ don't all have the same experiences. Some of us might face challenges that others don't – and these could lead to poor mental health.

This page covers:

This page is part of our guide to:

LGBTQIA+ mental health

Remember: there are also many positive experiences that come with being LGBTQIA+.

Our page on self-care includes tips for finding these positive experiences.

The intersections of one's class, culture, race, if we identify with having a disability, religion, caring responsibilities, family etc can bring up feelings of not being accepted, of shame, internalisation of hate and oppression, the fear of being harmed, and the risk of homelessness.

Multiple LGBTQIA+ identities

You may identify with more than one term in the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. For example, you could be lesbian and trans, or intersex, gay and ace.

This will also contribute to a unique experience as an LGBTQIA+ person, and may mean you face overlapping and intersecting types of challenges.

Age

You might experience inequality based on your age and LGBTQIA+ identity. For example, trans and non-binary people aged under 18 are excluded from getting legal gender recognition. Or older LGBTQIA+ people may be less likely to have a support network around them.

You may also have grown up during a time when being LGBTQIA+ was much less accepted than it is today. This might affect your experiences of things like discrimination, abuse and hate crime.

I grew up in a time when queer people were viewed by many as immoral, weird and even disgusting.

Disability and health conditions

LGBTQIA+ people who are disabled or have health problems may experience certain challenges.

For example, disabled LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to experience discrimination at work. And disabled trans people may face more barriers to getting trans-related healthcare. You may also face more stigma if you're HIV positive and LGBTQIA+.

My dual HIV and hepatitis C diagnoses had a massive impact on my mental health. I was worried about stigma. I felt alienated from HIV negative gay men on account of my HIV and from HIV positive gay men on account of my hepatitis C.

Immigration status

You may have had to leave your home country because you're LGBTQIA+. And you might experience further stress trying to claim asylum and prove your identity.

LGBTQIA+ services might not always be able to support your immigration needs. And some processes might be more complicated because of your immigration status. For example, applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate if you're trans.

Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term covering lots of conditions that affect how our brains work. For example, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Some neurodiverse people find that LGBTQIA+ spaces are not accessible to them, such as Pride celebrations or dating apps.

Some autistic people might also find that their sexual or gender identity aren't taken seriously. This may happen if others assume that autistic people don't know their own bodies. Or think they can't make informed decisions about what they want. It can be especially hard if healthcare professionals make these assumptions.

I grew up quite confused about my sexual identity, I think particularly because I was autistic and also struggled with different chronic mental health conditions. Doctors and social workers were quick to dismiss my confusion as part of these things, rather than acknowledging or explaining that I might be LGBTQ+.

Poverty

Your LGBTQIA+ identity may affect your experiences with money. For example, if your family didn't support you being LGBTQIA+ when you were younger. This may have led you to experience poverty or homelessness.

If you're LGBTQIA+, you may also experience discrimination at work. This might make it more difficult to keep a job and make money.

Race

LGBTQIA+ people of colour face racism as well as negative attitudes towards being LGBTQIA+.

For example, if you're LGBTQIA+ and a person of colour, you're more likely to face difficulties accessing health services. And trans people of colour are more likely to experience transphobia than white trans people.

You may also experience racism within the LGBTQIA+ community, such as on dating apps.

Racism and homophobia damaged my mental health

I will not allow gender or racial stereotypes to define who I am and my behaviours.

Religion

If you're from a faith community, you may not feel that your faith accepts LGBTQIA+ people. You may not feel able to be open about being LGBTQIA+ with your faith community. And you may be more likely to experience conversion 'therapy'.

Not all faith communities are like this. But other LGBTQIA+ people might assume they are, and discriminate against you because of your religion. This might mean you feel excluded from some LGBTQIA+ spaces.

Published: May 2024

Next review planned: May 2027

References and bibliography available on request.

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