June is Pride Month! What began as a day to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, a tipping point for the LGBT rights movement in the United States, has grown into a month-long celebration of equality, visibility, and diversity. It is a month to reflect on social and political advances, including the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, but also a time to remind ourselves of the work that still has to be done. As allies we join our neighbors in the movement towards equality.
Are you an ally?
What does it mean to be an ally?
An ally is someone who is on your side; someone who is ready to help you. An ally is someone who is willing to listen, learn, and speak up.
Most importantly, an ally does the work alongside someone, not for them. An ally is a person who spreads awareness for the community they serve.
Why is HCWC an ally to the LGBT community?
The words “domestic violence” often stirs mental images of women being assaulted by their husbands. This is also the case for sexual assault. The truth is violence and abuse are issues that affect everyone, including people in the LGBT community.
Facts on LGBT abuse:
- Domestic violence occurs in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community with the same amount of frequency and severity as in the heterosexual community.
- Approximately 50% of the lesbian population has experienced or will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes
- Gay and bisexual men experience abuse in intimate partner relationships at a rate of 2 in 5, which is comparable to the amount of domestic violence experienced by heterosexual women.
- LGBT domestic violence is vastly underreported, unacknowledged, and often reported as something other than domestic violence.
- Delaware, Montana and South Carolina explicitly exclude same-sex survivors of domestic violence from protection under criminal laws.
- Approximately 1 in 8 lesbian women and nearly half of bisexual women experience rape in their lifetime
- Nearly half of bisexual men and 4 in 10 gay men have experienced sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime
- 64% of transgender people have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime.
Abuse in the LGBT community is often unreported as this group faces more barriers to seeking services than others.
BARRIERS TO SEEKING SERVICES
- The belief that domestic violence does not occur in LGBT relationships and/or is a gender-based issue
- Societal anti-LGBT bias (homophobia, biphobia and transphobia)
- Lack of appropriate training regarding LGBT domestic violence for service providers
- A fear that airing of the problems among the LGBT population will take away from the progress toward equality or fuel anti-LGBT bias
- Domestic violence shelters are typically female only, thus transgender people may not be allowed entrance into shelters or emergency facilities due to their gender/legal status
No matter how you identify, at HCWC, you will be heard; you will be validated; you will be helped. We will continue to keep our door open to all victims and survivors of abuse.
How can YOU be an ally:
- Listen. The best way to learn about important issues and the personal experiences of a community is to listen to the many people who have firsthand experience. By listening to the voices of marginalized groups we all gain a better understanding of different issues.
- Educate yourself. Get online! Read blogs, articles, and stories. Watch videos. Learn history and current events. One of the best ways to grow as an ally is to challenge your own assumptions and continue learning.
- Speak up. Use what you’ve learned! Speak up when you hear oppressive jokes, comments, and language. Share stories and experiences, but remember to give credit where credit is due. As allies, we help amplify the voices of the communities we stand beside.
PFLAG: “PFLAG is the extended family of the LGBTQ community. We’re made up of LGBTQ individuals, family members and allies. Because together, we’re stronger.”
Human Rights Campaign: “HRC works to improve the lives of LGBTQ people worldwide by advocating for equal rights and benefits in the workplace, ensuring families are treated equally under the law, and increasing public support around the globe.“
GLAAD: “GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBT acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love.”
Source: The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Domestic Violence and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Relationships