Content Warning: Sexual Assault

Nine years ago I was drugged and raped right here in my own community. While this was not the first time I was raped by someone in our community, it was the first time I sought help. In my journey to find support and treatment, I kept bumping into the lack of LGBTQ culturally competent care. Some service encounters were even blatantly homophobic. As I began to share my story with friends, family, and community, I heard from far too many that had also endured similar experiences of being drugged, sexually assaulted, and a lack of compassionate, competent care. We banded together. 

What started as a small group of queer, bisexual, gay, and nonbinary community members bonding through shared trauma, grew into the LGBTQIA+ Survivor Task Force as we attempted to bring better, more culturally competent care to our community. The group has hosted online and in-person conferences and workshops, helped to tell the stories of LGBTQ survivors on social media and news outlets, and helped provide LGBTQ and trauma-informed care training to regional service providers.

Nationwide, approximately 40% of gay men and half of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence, compared to 20% of heterosexual men. 75% percent of bisexual women and 44% of lesbians have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35% of heterosexual women. 47% of our transgender siblings and 55% of all non-binary people experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. 

While we know LGBTQ people are already more susceptible to intimate partner violence, COVID-19’s economic and isolation impacts on our community had a disproportionate impact. Throughout the pandemic, the unintended consequences of the essential public health stay-at-home orders were LGBTQ people, and youth, in particular, were at greater risk of sexual violence and human trafficking, making the work of these incredible community members that much more vital.

This month, She Fest and the LGBTQIA+ Survivor Task Force are collaborating to hold two SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) events they are calling the Queer Survivorship & Resilience Series (Part 1 & Part 2)  geared towards queer women, non-binary people, and/or any San Diegans in the queer community who are at home with “she.” Later this year we will offer Provider Training with Continuing Education Credits available through North County Lifeline for Master’s-level practitioners.

I never could have imagined doing this work, and yet I’m constantly inspired by this program built by and for LGBTQ+ survivors which continues to grow thanks to our incredible community partners and volunteers. It’s further proof that our community can take even the most toxic and traumatic of situations, work together, and make something beautiful and healing. We mend as we are mended, and together, pursue Justice with Joy.

With Pride,

Fernando Zweifach López
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs
Executive Director
San Diego Pride


About Fernando

Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made them a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.