Pride month is a time for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer community to be proud of who they are and tell the stories of those who brought us the freedom to be who we are. Historically, the LGBTQ community were forced to keep their identities private for fear of discrimination on a personal and legal level. This month we remember the revolutionaries who threw the first brick in the Stonewall Riots, the couples who fought for the right to marriage equality, the community members who suffered violence and hate for their identities, and the many members who never got to express who they were because our society and laws didn’t allow them the freedom of expression we now experience. Pride is so important to the gay community because for so long, and still in many places, they were not safe to be prideful in their identities, in their relationships, in their community.
This month we are reminded of how far we have come and how far we have to go. The rights of the LGBT community have propelled forward, faced backlash, been put on the backburner, gained national attention, and shifted our culture. June is a time for everyone to take a stand. For some, this means being in community with LGBT people at places like pride parades, for some it means marking yourself as a safe person to come out to, for some it means vowing to protect the community with whatever platform we have. Whether you celebrate as a community member or as an ally, Pride month makes the space for us to all stand with the LGBT community and embrace the identities of all those around us as they choose to share it with us. Pride month is also a time to highlight the struggles still faced by the LGBT community.
There’s no pride in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), yet LGBTQ individuals are at an increased risk for experiencing violence from a partner. We could choose from a wide variety of reasons this is, but what is clear is that existing with a marginalized identity increases the likelihood that someone will be a survivor of IPV or sexual violence. This goes for women, people of color, economically disadvantaged people, homosexual people, and transgender people. People negatively impacted by societal structures of racism, sexism, heteronormativity, etc. are the most likely to be perpetrated against. Perhaps it is due to the lack of respect these identities hold in society. Perhaps it is due to internalized conceptions of our place in society. Perhaps it is a compilation of all the experiences held by the abuser and the survivor that leads them to perpetrate violence or be victimized. Despite any disagreement about the causes of victimization, one thing is for certain: there is no pride in intimate partner violence.
Here are the facts:
These stats show that members of the LGBT community, especially Bi and Trans individuals, are experiencing violence from intimate partners at even higher rates than straight individuals. Prevention is incredibly important, but we as service providers have to prepare for the reality that LGBT community members will need our services. Though they experience violence at higher rates, LGBT survivors access community resources at lower rates than straight survivors. We have to recognize the barriers these survivors face and work to dismantle the barriers we present to them.
Barriers to getting any service as a person in the LGBT community start with safety. Homophobia and transphobia are a tragic reality in this world. Identifying as trans or gay can and often does present a safety risk to the individual, and when we are talking about intimate partner violence, it is very hard to disclose without coming out to the service provider. Not knowing if an agency is LGBT friendly means some survivors will rather be safe than sorry and not access those resources.
Hope and Healing identifies itself as a safe place for LGBT individuals in a variety of ways. As an agency, we avoid discriminatory practices by providing training to staff members so they may use correct terminology and remain respectful in their interactions with LGBT identifying survivors. Staff are not only expected to provide our basic services to LGBT survivors, but we also expect staff to consider any special circumstances of our survivors that may require special attention or different resources. Staff members have access to many community resources for the LGBT community. This is the bare minimum.
Additionally, Hope and Healing makes itself a visible ally. Our offices are decorated with pride merch and many are marked as safe spaces for ALL. We take any opportunity to do outreach at LGBT centered events so survivors at those events know our agency is safe for them. Our hospital advocates can choose to display their pronouns on a button and often introduce themselves to the survivor with pronouns so that survivor may feel safe to do the same. We employ many members of the LGBT community, which may allow survivors to see staff members that are similar to themselves.
Hope and Healing is committed to survivors and spreading our resources to anyone who needs them. We will always take steps to ensure our resources are accessible and inclusive.
Happy Pride Month.