The Suffolk Show 2024 was visited by thousands to celebrate life in Suffolk.

June is Pride Month and Feel Good Suffolk wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate and stand in solidarity with all members of the LGBTQi+ community.

Pride Month is so important because it is an opportunity to take stock and highlight the communities continuing to struggle for equality.

The health of LGBTQi+ communities consistently falls short of the wider society. The discrimination faced by the LGBTQi+ community contributes to an individual’s lack of self-esteem leading to isolation and poor mental health which is experienced by many.

As a result, the LGBTQi+ population find it hard to sustain lasting employment with many falling short, contributing to a significant number of LGBTQi+ individuals finding themselves homeless or in need of housing services. All of these factors contribute to poorer life chances and detrimental health and wellbeing outcomes.

One significant trend that impacts on the health inequality of LGBTQi+ communities is the significantly higher rates of smoking.

In a report by the LGBT Foundation entitled ‘Hidden Figures, Health inequalities in the UK’ published in December 2023, they contrasted the smoking rates of heterosexual people – standing at 18.8% – with members of the LGBTQi+ populations.

  • 27.9% of lesbian women smoke.
  • 30.5% of bisexual women smoke.
  • 23.2% of gay men smoke.
  • 26.1% of bisexual men smoke.

A 2012 study of transpeople in England and Ireland found that 19% were current smokers and in Northern Ireland 32% smoked. But this figure needs to be tempered by the fact that trans status isn’t routinely monitored so it’s difficult to get accurate and up-to-date figures.

Reasons for these higher rates of smoking are varied and complex. One explanation focuses on ‘minority stress’ which highlights the anxiety and mental distress that comes as the result of discrimination. Another explanation looks at context, for many ‘safe places’ are often centred around bars and incorporate drinking and social smoking.

One factor that could explain higher rates of LGBTQi+ smoking is the fact that tobacco industries have spent decades targeting and marketing their products at the LGBTQi+ population. Add to this the fact that many in the community feel unsafe in health care settings when they refer for support and it is easy to see how health inequalities exist. Indeed in a copy of an ASH government briefing,

“A staggering 8% of trans people report experiencing anxiety before a medical appointment due to fears of insensitivity, misgendering and discrimination”.

It’s crucial that services are proactive in challenging discrimination and making everyone welcome. Feel Good Suffolk offer support for anyone in Suffolk to stop smoking and our trained Feel Good Suffolk Advisors can help everyone to find the quit solutions that work best for them.

More importantly in the coming year we will be focusing on making sure our service responds to and works for all the communities of Suffolk. If you would like to get involved in our ‘User Testing’ for the website content or you have feedback on the service you have received we would love to hear from you.

For us it’s the little things that add up to make a big difference in people’s lives and everyone’s voice contributes to the whole.

We’d like to leave you with a quote that sums up why Pride is as important today as it was when the first marches took place in America in the 1970’s.

“Pride is important because tonight someone still believes they’re better off dead than being themselves.”
— Sterling Graves