It was six years ago when I became the victim of rape, 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 and information. As I began to share my story with friends, family, and community I heard from too many an ever-growing chorus of voices saying, “Me too.”
What started with a small group of queer, bisexual, and gay men grew into the LGBTQ Survivor Task Force as we attempted to bring better, more culturally competent care to our community. Nationwide, approximately 40% of gay men and half of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence, compared to 20% of heterosexual men. Sixty-one 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. Forty-seven percent of our transgender siblings experience sexual assault in their lifetimes.
This April 27, 2019, we will be hosting our 2nd #MeTooLGBTQ Conference. For those looking to engage in this critically needed and deeply meaningful work, I hope you will join us. For me, to take something so vile and painful and turn it into something that can build up the health and well-being of our community was and continues to be a source of my own healing. It is part of my own Legacy of Liberation, and you are welcome to have it be a part of yours.
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 him a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.