Feminism | Posted by Sarah F on 10/22/2012

Why Does No One Talk About Sexual Assault in the LGTBQ Community?

For the most part, I exist within two realms: That of American women and that of LGBT Americans. When a friend makes the playful joke that my life is “sooo gay,” I can only agree. But it’s also “sooo feminist,” too.

These communities aren’t mutually exclusive, though. There’s a lot of overlap between that which is feminist and that which is queer. There is no need to choose sides. If anything, this sort of dual existence has a lot of perks. I have a heightened awareness of the ways gender, sexuality, and privilege all play out in my “gay-to-day” existence.

Because I care about reproductive justice, I also care about sexual freedom. And because I care about sexual freedom, I also care about consent, and the things that compromise it. Frequently, LGBT individuals are left out of discussions surrounding rape and assault. When the predominant narrative surrounding rape is one entailing penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse involving heterosexuals, the experiences of individuals—both female and male—who’ve survived oral, anal, and digital assault are often dismissed. As are the experiences of LGBT people who’ve survived in-community assault. This was just reflected in my Google search for materials focused on queer survivors. Resources were few and far between.

You may say, “Well, there are more instances of rape among straight folks. That’s where priorities lie.” My first response to this is: Reproductive justice is not a competition. The moment we value the experiences of one individual over that of another, we’re doing it wrong.

My second response is: Yes, you’re absolutely right– there are more instances of rape among straight folks. Reported instances, that is. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, men are less likely to file a crime report because of the various stigmas attached to being a survivor of sexual assault. The US Justice Department recognizes that 1 in 10 reported survivors of rape is male, and roughly 60% of those men identify as gay or bisexual.

Even if a gay survivor were to come forward, file a report, and wait for his case to be heard, there is no guarantee that the incident would be acknowledged fairly in court. For example, North Carolina’s recent gay marriage ban blocked measures to strengthen domestic violence laws among same-sex couples. Even the defendant in such a hypothetical case could be tried unfairly. Up until 2005, LGBT individuals convicted of statutory rape in Kansas were charged harsher sentences than their heterosexual counterparts.

How do we get rid of the stigma? Things that are considered taboo often loose their “gasp! factor” when openly discussed. This is one of the reasons I am such an advocate for comprehensive sex education. The ability to talk and learn about our queer bodies and feelings in the same spaces as our heterosexual peers fundamentally acknowledges and normalizes that which is either dismissed or fetishized. Comprehensive sex ed’s message is, “Hey, we’re all a little different, but that’s totally cool.” In order to remove the stigma surrounding in-community violence among LGBT individuals, we must create those same safe spaces and dialogues in our young adult lives.

Cross-Posted from Choice USA

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  • Isabel @ at 9:50 am, November 5th, 2012

    Great post I never thought about this issue

  • Isabel @ at 9:50 am, November 5th, 2012

    Great post I never thought about this issue

  • Regina @ at 5:21 am, November 14th, 2012

    This is an extremely personal issue for me that I am glad to see someone addressing.

    When I first started reaching out to the LGBT community because I was starting to admit that I’m bi I met some women who were rather strongly opposed to bisexuality in general and felt that I just needed to “have my girl-love cherry popped” to realize that I was wrong about my sexual identity. I had a boyfriend at the time and while we were in a mostly open relationship the women at that meeting were rather touchy feely and came off as pushy and I didn’t want to stick around to see what they meant so I left.
    One of the women followed me as I was walking home to apologize for the lewd and predatory behavior of the others and said she was going in the same direction and asked to walk with me. When I got back to my apartment I said goodbye and started to unlock my door. I don’t feel like going into detail about what happens next but I was overpowered and assaulted on my front porch in broad daylight and my asshole jock neighbors across the way had hollered and cheered and taped the entire goddamn thing. She left and I called the police. I was told in no uncertain terms that what had happened to me was hazing elicited by my attendence at the LGBT support group and not rape.
    I could have pressed the issue but the police refused to take a report at the time and I found out that if I made public my attendence at the meeting my college would find out and it was a private Christian college that could fuck over my GPA and throw me out for that.

    It took me three years to talk about that incident at all and when I did I recieved a lot of pushback over my use of the term rape to describe what happened. I still do but I tend to tell those people to kindly remove themselves from my life.

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