It’s 2022 – let’s talk.  We need to talk about unique challenges the LGBTQIA+ community faces in accessing resources and services. It’s June, and once again Verity honors and celebrates PRIDE month!  We love PRIDE month and everything it represents: inclusion, love, the freedom to be yourself, and of course lots of pretty rainbows (the Pride Flag goes back to 1978, when the artist Gilbert Baker, an openly gay man and a drag queen, designed the first rainbow flag.  Learn More about the Pride Flag.  

However, despite living in a country that celebrates and honors June as Pride Month, it’s important that we remember that there still exists systemic bias and oppression against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, queer and/or questioning, intersex, and asexual, or LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals.  This system makes possible a climate that tolerates hate violence, including sexual violence as a hate crime, against the LGBTQIA+ community.

It’s time to talk about important issues that the LGBTQIA+ community face surrounding sexual assault, abuse, and domestic violence.  Although in the past few years we have seen positive changes in the dialogue we are having, and openly talking about what discrimination this population endures, more education and conversations need to be had.  Individuals who identify as belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community still experience sexual assault at an alarmingly high rate.  It is also important to understand that sexual assault and domestic violence frequently intersect with the marginalization of communities.  Yes, we’ve come a long way since the Stonewall Riots, but there is still much work to be done to support our LGBTQIA+ community.

Love Is Love Rainbow Text
Statistics show us that domestic violence and sexual assault affect LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals at elevated rates compared to straight identifying individuals.  61.1% of bisexual women will become survivors of domestic violence, stalking, or rape within their lifetime.  Lesbian women face the same dangers at a rate of 43.8%. In addition to these statistics, 48% of bisexual women who are rape survivors experienced their first rape between the ages of 11 and 17.

Statistics also show us that 37.3% of bisexual men will become survivors of the same aforementioned crimes in their lifetime as will 26% of gay men. 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape.  Consider this: only 35% of heterosexual women and 29% of heterosexual men will become survivors of said crimes.  It continues to be imperative that we continue to include LGBTQIA+ survivors in conversations regarding advocacy around sexual assault and abuse.

According to “The National Center for Transgender Equality,” transgender people face “extraordinary levels of physical and sexual violence, whether on the streets, at school or work, at home, or at the hands of government officials. More than one in four trans people has faced a bias-driven assault, and rates are higher for trans women and trans people of color.” 

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There seems to be endless challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ community.  We need to prioritize and include survivors in the queer community when it comes to having conversations around sexual abuse.  Survivors can be from any walk of life, and any sexual orientation – however, survivors in the LGBTQIA+ community find it especially hard to seek services and resources because they face barriers to accessing them due to their identity. 

This can look like someone wanting to access services, but being reluctant to do so in the event that they would be asked to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to service providers when that disclosure may mean facing future discrimination or denial of services.  People who are responsible for helping this community may exhibit implicit or explicit prejudice that keep individuals from seeking resources.

Another very real concern that may prevent LGBTQ individuals from feeling comfortable asking for help or services is fear of having their sexual orientation or gender identity revealed without their consent—or being outed.  Learn  about what being outed means and why it’s harmful here.

So – how do we challenge cultural norms that harm the communities we care about?  Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are deep rooted in our culture. If you identify as heterosexual, it is important to understand you have heterosexual privilege – and recognize the importance of educating yourself and others on these issues.   Here is a list of 30+ heterosexual priviledges that you might not be aware that you have.

It’s also important to remember that discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t just involve slurs and ridicule – it also intertwines with institutional problems and societal narratives that continue to silence queer survivors. You can be an ally for people in the LGBTQIA+ community by standing up them in situations where discrimination or prejudice may exist – and you can fight for equality for all those not matter who they love.

At Verity, we believe that nobody should be denied access to life-healing resources because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and that all survivors of sexual violence should have access to the support they deserve – at all times.  

Click Here to learn more about the (always free!) mental health services Verity offers our community. 

While we recognize the progress that has been made, we also recognize the work that still needs to be done. As an agency whose primary mission is to end all forms of violence (with a focus on sexual assault and abuse) in our community and beyond, Verity understands that the LGBTQIA+ community continues to face tragic levels of violence.

Pride is a celebration – and a call to action – we must continue to fight to end discrimination. We must continue to use our voices in advancing inclusion for all members of our community, this June and beyond.

Verity as an organization is doing what we do all year long; celebrating the lives of LGBTQIA+ people and continuing with the ongoing pursuit of equality for everyone. We hope you join us this June and beyond!

Verity is committed to serving ALL survivors of sexual abuse, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. We strive to be a safe place for any and all individuals to seek the help and support they need to heal.  If you or someone you know is in need of support, call our 24/7 crisis line at )707) 545-7273.  You are not alone – Verity is here.