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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Rape: Even the LGBT Community Is Vulnerable

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For many years now, people have lived with the mindset that rape is not a thing the LGBT community has the right to complain about. However, these group of people are human and face the same challenges other people suffer, and that includes RAPE!

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Why is it difficult for members of the LGBT community to come out with their rape stories? Could it be fear of judgment, or could it be that they rarely encounter such situation? In this article, all these questions and more will be answered.

Since the start of the #MeToo campaign, a few members of the LGBT community have questioned why they can’t share their own stories and bring their abusers to book.

One overlooked fact about being a member of the LGBT community is that you are exposed to a higher risk of all kinds of sexual assault.

In fact, during a survey of US Transgender carried out back in 2015, it was discovered that 47% of the respondents had been raped at least once in their life by people of the same sexual orientation.

Also, according to a 2010 CDC report, gay have claimed to have experienced as much rape from their intimate partners as their straight counterparts. When it comes to sexual assaults aside rape, the rate of victims in the LGBT community is two times higher than in the straight world.

It might sound difficult to believe, but 44% of lesbians and an alarming 61% of bisexual women have admitted to being raped by an intimate partner compared to the 35% of heterosexual women who have had similar experiences.

According to Dr Aliraza Javid who is a gender and sexuality theorist at Newcastle University, “There is a lack of awareness in LGBT communities about the different forms of male sexual assault and rape.

The absence of discourse or knowledge of the many intricate issues surrounding sexual violence is problematic because it, implicitly, strengthens rape myths.”

Javid pointed out that one of those myths is the assumption that a real man can’t be raped. In fact, a lot of people feel men cannot be sexually assaulted in any way because they love sex.

Ashlee Marie Preston, who is a trans activist told vice.com that accuser’s in Weinstein who are both white and cisgender  “are a bit more protected by respectability politics than trans women of colour.”

Transgender victims, by contrast, are not given that same level of compassion. “Because of the continuous hyper-sexualisation of trans identities in media, people believe that we ‘bring it on ourselves’ or that we ‘desire’ it more.”

Marie blamed herself for her sexual abuse for many years especially because she had been on drugs when it happened  “I wondered if perhaps I would’ve made better decisions had my judgement not been as impaired,” Marie explained.

“However, the drugs were a social lubricant that numbed my conscious to the demoralising things that were done to me out of survival. It all went hand in hand.”

LGBT

Just like gay women, gay men can be culturally conditioned to believe they invited sexual abuse on themselves.

Preeminent scholar on the male sexual victimisation and assistant dean at UCLA’s law school, Lara Stemple, points out the possibility of the reporting rates of men, in general, do not reflect the exact situation as the masculine gender is taught to welcome every kind of sexual advances.

“Men are portrayed in our society as being sexually insatiable, which makes it hard to acknowledge that something that happened to them—which they did not fight off but which was nevertheless unwelcome—was abusive,” Lara said.

Even Mike Rizzo who works as a crystal meth counsellor at the LGBT centre in Los Angeles, admits to meeting many gay men who are uncomfortable with labelling a forced sexual intercourse they experienced as rape.

“We’ve had clients who’ve been traumatised because they’ve gone over to party and someone slips GHB in their drink, and they don’t remember what happens over the following few hours,” he said. “They think, somehow, that they’re responsible for whatever happens.

They say, ‘If I hadn’t been there if I hadn’t been using drugs…'”  Adding that serial predators within the gay community rely primarily on that confusion to carry out their deeds.

“Someone was talking about something that happened, and another person said, ‘Oh my God, that same thing happened to me,’ and they realised it was the same person who’d raped them. There certainly seems to be a pattern of behaviour by the perpetrators.”

Finding gay victims of rape and other forms of sexual assaults is not as rare as we might imagine. A boy named TED (not real name) reported he was raped by two men who were a lot older when that he met at a bar when he was only 21-years old.

According to an anonymous source, he said: “Since I was the cute young thing, most of the time I’d end the night not really spending any money at all—everyone would buy me drinks until I was shit faced, then my friends would take me home, and I’d pass out.”

However, one night when his friends had departed the bar to their various homes, a couple offered to buy him more drinks while they chat. “The older guy was the one who seemed to have a primary interest in me.

We talked about music and movies and politics, sort of general friendly half-sober banter. I got not-sober, then they walked me to their place instead of mine.

Eventually one of them brought out some weed—that was my first time getting cross-faded. I slowly started to fall asleep. I remember waking up to the older guy having sex with my mostly not-conscious body. I just told myself to go back to sleep.”

Men who are gay sometimes find it difficult to recognise when they are sexually abused. This difficulty doesn’t only stem from cultural conditioning but also because of certain physiological factors that are beyond their control.

“When a man who is being victimised experiences an erection or a climax, those responses are sometimes read by the victim as implying consent,”

Lara said. “I think that’s one of the factors that can be very confusing for victims and can be hard for them to reconcile their physiological response with the fact that they did not consent to the act.”

For women raping other weaker women, you might not hear about it as much as you hear about men getting raped by other men, but that too is an actual thing that some lesbians have had to deal with.

A student of the Midwestern university (name withheld), shared her rape experience recounting that she was assaulted by an older lady while they saw a movie together. She said “I pulled her hand out of my pants at least half a dozen times, and I wasn’t able to overpower her.

I said stop, but I was so overwhelmed I didn’t yell at her. I just remember feeling, I guess I’ll just let her finish.”

When she reported the abuse to the local police, they  “were totally unequipped because it involved two women, and there was no penis,” she stated. “They were like, ‘Well, we don’t get it.’ Even though she’d had an accusation levelled against her before me.”

Adding that  “Nobody in the lesbian community defended me. They were mute. Women that I knew who are currently calling people out on Facebook did nothing about my case.

It was like, ‘alright, well, we’ll sweep that one under the rug.'” When it comes to making a police report about a sexual assault, Stemple said that;

“A lot of gay individuals still deal with sexual shame, and then if you layer on to that being in a countercultural sexual setting, whether it’s a party or a hookup, there’s a sense that those settings are going to move the person further down in the hierarchy of sexual victimhood.

The more ‘deviant’ the person or setting, the less sympathy there is, and the more reluctance those victims have coming forward because they know their practices are stigmatised.”

Now that you know, members of the LGBT community get raped and sexually assaulted in other ways; it would be fair to give them the required support and attention.

Above all, STOP RAPE!

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

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