April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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Image from ccasa.org

 

In honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it seemed appropriate to talk about the ways in which sexual assault affects the LGBT community. Often times, it is overlooked, especially in same sex relationships, because of the stigma that “men can’t sexually assault men” and “women cant sexually assault women,” but those assumptions are the farthest thing from the truth, and perpetuating them is extremely damaging to the victims being affected.

An article by the Human Rights Campaign lists a number of statistics found by the CDC:

  • “44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women
  • 26 percent of gay men and 37 percent of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 29 percent of heterosexual men

  • 46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of heterosexual women and 13 percent of lesbians

  • 22 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of heterosexual women

  • 40 percent of gay men and 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21 percent of heterosexual men”

These numbers are staggering. Thankfully, there are advocates stepping up to give voices to the victims who have been silenced. There are 24/7 hotlines for those in need in the LGBT community, such as The Anti-Violence Project, The GLBT National Help Center, and more.

For more information and resources, please visit The Human Rights Campaign.

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LGBTQ Women in History: Barbara Gittings

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, today we will honor Gay Rights activist Barbara Gittings.

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Image from: Barbara Gittings: Lesbian Rights Activist.

 

Born in February 1932, Barbara Gittings became a prominent figure in the early gay rights movement. Gittings was apart of the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian social organization founded by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in San Francisco in 1955. In 1963, Gittings became editor of The Ladder, a magazine published by the Daughters of Bilitis.

Gittings also helped organize gay rights demonstrations in both Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, protesting federal employment discrimination. In addition to her protests, she was also instrumental in getting homosexuality removed from the list of mental disorders in 1973. She also helped to make gay and lesbian oriented reading material more available to the public, and in 2001 GLADD created the Barbara Gittings award in her honor. The award is “given to an individual, group, or community media outlet that has made a significant contribution to the development of LGBT media.”

Gittings met Kay Lahausen in 1961; they were partners for 46 years. Gittings died of breast cancer at the age of 75 in February 2007.

References: “Barbara Gittings: Lesbian Rights Activist”

National Employee Appreciation day

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Image from: hulschofschmidt.wordpress.com

Since March 4th is National Employee Appreciation Day, let’s talk about some of the issues LGBTQ+ individuals face in the workplace.

Discrimination in the workplace is something that many LGBTQ people face. According to the Center for American Progress, “15 to 43 percent of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment in the workplace;” that number jumps to 90 percent for transgender people.

These numbers are concerning for many reasons; aside from the fact that everyone is entitled to have their basic human rights respected regardless of their identity or sexual orientation, everyone deserves the right to earn a living without the fear of being harassed or fired for who they are.

Often times when we think about the wage gap, we assume the context is the wage gap between men and women but women are not the only ones affected by it. There is also a wage gap between LGBTQ and heterosexual employees. Gay employees make less than heterosexual employees and transgender employees make even less. Because of work discrimination and the wage gap, LGBTQ individuals experience high poverty rates than their heterosexual counterparts.

Many people believe that the public knowledge of their gender identity and sexual orientation has no place in a work environment because it is personal information; many of their heterosexual coworkers agree. Statistics from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation states that “53 percent of all LGBT workers nationwide hide who they are in the workplace.”

In 2013, Congress passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which “prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with at least 15 employees.”

While the country has been making great progress in the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, there is still an extreme amount of progress left to be made and as a society we need to work together to achieve full acceptance.

References: Center for American Progress, Wikipedia, The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion: Why the Workplace Environment for LGBT People Matters for Employers – Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

 

Black LGBTQ History: Janet Mock

Today, we honor someone who is currently making black history as an LGBTQ individual, writer and activist Janet Mock.

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Image from Wikipedia.org

Janet Mock, born in Honolulu, HI in 1983, is the author of the autobiography Redefining Realness, a New York Times Bestseller. She is also the founder of the hashtag “GirlsLikeUs”, which is a social media movement dedicated to empowering trans women. She also hosts a MSNBC weekly series called So POPular and was an editor for five years at People.com.

At the age of 16, Mock became a sex worker. At 18, during her first year of college, she went to Thailand where she underwent gender reassignment surgery.

Mock came out as trans in a 2011 issue of Marie Claire and has since become one of the most influential trans women of the decade. She has received praise from many critics for the success and honesty of her memoir, as well as for her dedication to speaking out about transgender women’s rights.

References: janetmock.com; Wikipedia

Manny Pacquiao Backlash

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Image from Instagram, @mannypacquiao

 

Manny Pacquiao, an eight-time world champion boxer, has recently caused a lot of controversy with his recent comments about the LGBTQ+ community.

The boxer, who is running for a chair on the senate in the Philippines, stated on a Filipino TV program that “The animals are better. They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve [of] male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals.” The problem with his comments are obvious, they are offensive and deeply hurtful to the LGBTQ+ community. But apart from that, his argument here is quite ignorant on his part.

After receiving backlash for his comments, Pacquiao issued a rather backhanded apology. In a video posted to his twitter, he apologizes for “comparing gay people to animals,” but then goes on to say that he’s sorry for offending people but not sorry for what he believes. Pacquiao states, “But this does not change my position against same sex marriage. That’s what I believe. My only mistake is comparing gay people to animals.” The boxer defended his position by saying that he “would rather obey the Lord’s command.”

Due to Pacquiao’s comments, Nike has dropped his endorsement, stating that they “strongly oppose discrimination of any kind.”

References: CNN; CNN Money

 

Black LGBTQ History: Simon Nkoli

Today for Black History Month, we are honoring activist, Simon Nkoli.

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Image from wikipedia

 

Born in South Africa in 1957, Nkoli grew up to become an anti-apartheid, gay rights, and AIDS activist. He founded the first black gay organization in Africa called Saturday Group.

In 1984, Nkoli was arrested for treason as part of the Delmas 22. He came out in prison. He was later acquitted and formed GLOW (Gay and Lesbian Organization of Witwatersrand) in 1988. GLOW was responsible for the first Gay Pride parade in South Africa in 1990.

Nkoli lived HIV positive for 12 years, and was one of the first African gay men to be public about it. Before his death, Nkoli was given the Stonewall Award for his efforts. He died of AIDS in 1998. There is a street named after him in Amsterdam and a day honoring him in San Francisco.

Reference: Wikipedia

Black LGBTQ History: Bruce Nugent

In honor of February being Black History Month, we will be celebrating the individuals in black history who identified as LGBTQ+. Today we celebrate Bruce Nugent.

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Image from Wikipedia.org

 

Born in Washington, DC in 1906, Nugent became a prominent figure of the Harlem Renaissance. He is credited as being the first out black writer/artist, as well as the first writer to depict homosexuality in his work.

Nugent’s works include Smoke, Lilies, and Jade which was featured in Wallace Thurman’s Publication “Fire!!!” along with some of his illustrations, and his own publication “Beyond Where the Stars Stood Still.”

In 1964, Nugent was invited to speak at the Community Planning Conference at Columbia University where the Harlem Cultural Council was formed. Nugent was Co-Chair of the council.

Nugent is known as the “Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance.”

Reference: Huffington Post; Wikipedia.