One of the most unfortunate things that we as members of the LGBTQ+ community can relate to one another about is the fact that we – at some point in our lives, have experienced discrimination because of who we are. Whether it was being bullied in grade school because you socialized with the girls too much, or receiving stares of disgust because you may dress differently or may wear make-up or maybe you were actually physically assaulted – these types of homophobic experiences are all too familiar to us.
There has been so much progress made in terms of equality for LGBTQ+ people, yet we have such a long way to go. Queer and gay people all over the world (old and young), experience hate crimes and/or discrimination on a daily basis. Young adults account how they have felt powerless, afraid and vulnerable in their everyday lives just because of what they have witnessed in this world in regards to how members of our community are treated.
This month alone, there have been several attacks globally on several LGBTQ+ people. In early June, a transgender woman was physically attacked by two cis-gendered women and a cis-gendered man in Washington, D.C. The victim, Nysa Armstead, was physically beaten and stabbed – an ordeal that she survived but left her in the hospital for days, resulting in more than 40 staples in her head and arm.
On June 11th, in the UK, a gay couple was also assaulted and attacked with a knife in what has now been confirmed as a homophobic attack. A first year student (a young man by the name of James), at University in the UK as well – discussed the discrimination, micro aggressions and the sexual assault he faced in his freshmen year once people became aware that he identified as bisexual. Since the traumatizing experiences, James has said he now feels he has to find the moments and instances in which he feels safe about opening up about who he truly is.
A lot of gay and queer people have to live on a daily basis with fear and/or anxiety about displaying their genuine and authentic selves in public. The fear of being attacked or experiencing another form of discrimination is a constant thought. ‘Am I straight-passing enough so that I don’t bring too much attention to myself’, or ‘I just want to get from place A to B safely without being called a fa**ot’. Thoughts that so many members of the community have embedded in their minds on a daily. It’s unfortunate that we have to endure these thoughts and these senseless acts of hate – but I truly feel until equality is fully transparent, we have to try to keep ourselves safe and to try and be aware of our surroundings.
As a native New Yorker, who was born and raised in a tough urban neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY – I have had countless occasions where I have had to physically defend myself from someone because they were homophobic and displayed threatening behavior towards me. While I am a bit of a different animal that can physically defend myself, I have empathy for anyone that experiences a hate crime.
My advice to others (not that anyone asked, but…), know it’s not your fault. If you’re struggling with coming to terms with certain situations – counseling/therapy is highly recommended. There are LGBTQ+ friendly counselors and therapists, on sites such as Talkspace, that have trained professionals who are experienced with helping individuals that may have been a victim of a LGBTQ+ hate crime or discrimination. If you’re concerned about your physical safety, find out if pepper spray and/or a taser is legal in your state – hopefully a situation never presents itself where you may have to use it, but it will give you a layer of confidence to be out in public, knowing you can defend yourself properly in the event of the aforementioned. But to me, the most important thing is learning to love yourself, so that all of these haters and their insecurities and blatant ignorant actions towards you – is nothing but water off a duck’s back.
This piece contains opinions of this contributing writer and may not reflect the opinions of the magazine or other writers.