LGBTQ Populations and Gun Violence


Dr. McKay's dissertation research focused on the inclusion of sexual minority men in global AIDS policy and the long road to adoption in African countries. You can watch a presentation summarizing some of her findings here.

As part of her research on LGBTQ rights and health in African countries, Dr. McKay has collected nationally representative household survey data in Malawi, coded thousands of UNAIDS Country Progress Reports, and  interviewed global health policymakers, country and NGO representatives at the UN and UNAIDS, national government officials, African and international HIV/AIDS organization representatives, and African LGBTQ activists in Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda. 

Building on several papers that examine the connections among LGBTQ health, rights, and organizing in African contexts, Dr. McKay's current work in this space details the the ways that the strategies of African LGBTQ organizations and activists intersect with other actors (like international development organizations and mainstream health organizations) in countries where LGTBQ people are criminalized. 



Population Association of America


COVID-19 and American Gun Violence

GLOBAL HEALTH Policy reseaRCH and fieldwork

Dr. McKay is the Principal Investigator of the Vanderbilt University Social Networks, Aging, and Policy Study (VUSNAPS).

VUSNAPS is a longitudinal study of the lives and networks of older LGBTQ adults in the South. The study is funded by the National Institute on Aging. Learn more at

READ: VUSNAPS Wave 1 Community Research Summary

Dr. Tara McKay (she/her) is a sociologist and demographer who studies a range of questions related to health, health disparities, and health policy. She currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University where she is also an Associate Director of the Vanderbilt LGBTQ+ Policy Lab. 

Dr. McKay contributed to a chapter on LGBTQ populations and gun violence for the 2022 ABCT Gun Violence Briefing Book, a text for journalists to help put guns and violence in context.

Gun violence has disproportionate effects on LGBTQ+ community, some of which might surprise you. Learn more here.

sociologist. educator. thought leader. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had disproportionate effects on LGBTQ people around the globe. 

In March 2020, Dr. McKay initiated a rapid response across multiple data collection projects to respond to expected inequalities in the health and economics effects of COVID-19 for LGBTQ people. This work has prioritized community impact and is available as short, accessible research briefs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the social lives of Americans and added additional economic pressures. In a series of new papers with Jonathan Metzl and others, Dr. McKay examines how pandemic measures affected American gun violence and how mental health research on gun violence needs to adapt to the pandemic context.


LGBTQ+ Health and aging

Dr. McKay provides expert testimony for the court in immigration and asylum cases involving sexual and gender minorities originating from African countries. ​

​Contact tara.mckay[at] with the details of what you need and what compensation you can offer.

sociologist. EDUCATOR.thought leader.

Expert Testimony

Dr. McKay was recently featured on the PBS series

Aging Matters:

Aging with Pride

working FOR THE


LGBTQ people, families, and communities in