Problems and possibilities on the margins: LGBT experiences in the 2011 Queensland floods

09 January 2020

Vulnerability to disasters is not inherent to particular social groups but results from existing marginality. Marginalisation from social, political and economic resources and recognition underpins vulnerability and impedes recovery. Yet concurrently, disasters can reveal the resilient capacities of some marginal groups, who often develop specific means of coping with marginality. This article applies these perspectives to the experiences of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) people during the 2011 disaster in Queensland, Australia, which resulted from catastrophic flooding of Brisbane and South-East Queensland. The findings come from a survey conducted by the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) a year after the floods, which sought to understand LGBT experiences, resources and needs. An agreement was established between QAHC and university researchers to facilitate data analysis. This article analyses some key findings using the concept of marginality to understand both vulnerability and resilience. This framework helps grasp the particular issues facing LGBT people. The data reveal vulnerability due to social and political marginality, including discrimination and inhibited access to assistance, but simultaneously examples of resilience borne by self-reliance and coping strategies developed in a context of marginality. Understanding LGBT marginality, vulnerability and resilience helps contribute to inclusive and effective disaster preparation, response and recovery.