Resources For Struggling LGBTQ Individuals And Families

You already know that being a member of the LGBTQ community is a struggle. A person with a conservative family is less likely to come out of the closet at an early age, and as a result will feel increased guilt, shame, anxiety, and depression compared to their open or straight counterparts. Even those who do come out of the closet might be met with resistance from close friends and family members. Life can be hard — and we all deserve a helping hand once in a while.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) was founded in 1985 to fight against negative coverage of gay, lesbian, and trans people both in and out of media. It is now known only as GLAAD in order to remain inclusive. GLAAD has implemented the GLAAD Media Awards, the Equality Project, the Commentator Accountability Project, and the Studio Responsibility Index to make life easier for LGBTQ figures in media. GLAAD resources can be found here.

The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 as a response to the epidemic-level spate of LGBTQ suicides. The Trevor Lifeline is a confidential service that provides trained counselors to anyone who needs help. The non-profit organization provides a number of other affiliate resources ranging from conversations, coping mechanisms, how-to books on support, education, and legal options for bankruptcy.

The Trevor Project is more of a “collection” of projects, such as the film by the same name (Trevor), The Trevor Lifeline (the aforementioned phone line for counseling), TrevorText, TrevorChat, TrevorSpace, the Palette Fund Internship Program, the Youth Advisory Council, and a number of school workshops. The Trevor Project has received a great deal of celebrity support, including a fundraiser by famous YouTuber Tyler Oakley. The project hosts many awards.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a number of resources to gay, bisexual, or transgender youth aimed at fostering positive environments and educating friends and family. The CDC focuses on recognizing the different struggles that LGBTQ individuals face growing up, which make it hard to relate by their straight counterparts.

CDC resources include fact sheets, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network, HealthyChildren.org: Health Concerns for Gay and Lesbian Teens, the It Gets Better Project, the Q Card Project, the Q Chat Space, Stomp Out Bullying. It is affiliated with the Trevor Project.

The Human Rights Campaign is associated with a number of other support projects, including: The Trevor Project, Gender Spectrum Lounge, the National Runaway Safeline, the Validation Station, the Trans Lifeline Hotline, the LGBT National Help Center, True Colors United, and PFLAG (which is a system of peer support and education for LGBTQ people across the United States, with more than 400 local chapters in all 50 states).

What To Do When You’re The Target Of An Alleged Hate Crime?

Many members of the LGBTQ family have been targeted by a hate crime at some point in their lives — or, at the very least, understand what it means to experience hate-driven speech or actions that don’t quite amount to “criminal” activity. For example, find me a gay man who hasn’t heard the word “faggot” screamed from a car driving by. You can’t! Every gay guy has experienced this kind of relentless behavior.

But violence is different. Although it can be scary to address violence when you don’t know how the people around you will react, we always, always, always feel obligated to recommend immediate legal action. Call the police before you do anything else. They will want to know exactly what happened, and will try to apprehend the alleged perpetrator if possible. Any witnesses on site will be interviewed if they’re doing their jobs the way they’re supposed to!

If you haven’t suffered a major injury, try to speak with the people nearby about what they may have seen or heard if possible. Ask if they’re willing to let you record their statements. Don’t press the issue if they are unwilling! This information can be tremendously useful to an attorney if you decide to go that route (and you should). If any property was damaged, take pictures of the damage now.

Next, seek medical treatment. Make sure you don’t overlook any injuries. If you come back tomorrow, it’ll be much harder to pin it on the perpetrator of yesterday’s attack. Take as many pictures of the wound or injury before a nurse or doctor views you. These photographs will go in the folder you hand to your attorney later, and may be used to obtain a settlement or during trial.

Compile all your bills into a folder with the photographs and any notes you have on witness statements or interactions with the police.

Most personal injury attorneys will provide a consultation free of charge, which means you can call and speak to anyone, like Koonz McKenney Johnson & Depaolis LLP if you reside in the Washington D.C. area. We strongly recommend you contact an attorney to learn about avenues of compensation. For example, you can sue for restitution through the criminal system — or you can sue in civil court for compensation. Your lawyer will obtain a copy of the police report.

Another thing that often gets overlooked is your thoughts and feelings on being the victim of a hate crime. How were you hurt? In addition to emotions, use a journal to track your physical recovery. These notes can go a long way to persuading a judge that you deserve more damages.

Next steps include contacting your support group. Tell friends and family what happened and discuss how you feel. Find a therapist if necessary. You might also decide to contact any local LGBTQ community centers or organizations to report the incident. They can provide a number of helpful resources, including legal recommendations.

Does The LGBTQ Community Make Less Money?

For decades, equal pay has been a gender-specific issue. We hear about the pay gap between minority groups and white or straight men much less often — but this pay gap most definitely exists. Few studies have looked into this matter in the last decade, which means the time for action is now. And to answer our headlines question, yes, members of the LGBTQ community make less money than straight men.

There are a number of studies that have identified a pay gap between gay or bisexul men and straight men. These include a study done by Lee Badgett in 1995 that proved a gap of anywhere between 11 and 27 percent between the earnings of straight men and gay or bisexual men. Interestingly, no such pay gap could be proved between gay or bisexual women  and straight women.

Another study done by Dan Black, Gary Gates, Seth Sanders, and Lowell Taylor in 2000 showed a more defined gap of 14 to 16 percent. In another twist, the study seemed to show that gay women might actually make between 20 and 34 percent more than other women.

A study conducted by Sylvia Allegretto and Michelle Arthur in 2001 showed that gay men were likely to make about 15.6 percent less than their straight, married counterparts when they were in a same-sex relationship.

More studies show that transgender individuals have more trouble finding work and often make much less. After transitioning, transgender individuals were likely to make about one-third less the pay they were making when their biological sex was apparent. In another sticking point about our society’s obsession with masculinity, male transgender individuals actually made more money after transitioning. 

This waiter pay infographic shows what the average person would make during a less-than-minimum wage job. But keep in mind that LGBTQ individuals who work in the service industry still make the majority of their money off tips — but maybe not as much as their straight or cis-gendered counterparts. There isn’t any information or data on any such disparity yet. But we’d like to see some! It stands to reason that individual customers have less to worry about (legally speaking) than employers who must dot every “I” and cross every “T.”

What does all this mean? Well, it means that the already troubling obstacles present for those who are gay, bisexual, or transgendered are just as bad in the workplace. Another study has shown that the average household income for same-sex couples is a whopping 20 percent less than the household income of their straight counterparts. This is unacceptable in 2021. 

Gay and transgender individuals are statistically more likely to live below the poverty line, making it more difficult to build substantial relationships, have fun, or even have children. Transgendered individuals live at a rate of poverty 400 percent that of straight individuals. Think about that number for a minute before going about your day!

Does Sexual Abuse Influence Sexuality?

When we discuss sexual abuse (occurring at any age), we often discuss depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or feelings, eating disorders, addiction, and relationship difficulties. The latter category might sometimes fall under the umbrella of sexuality, which encompasses all of our sexualized thoughts and feels. It doesn’t necessarily include sexual orientation in the case, but we’ll discuss it anyway.

According to Roller, Martsolf, Draucker & Ross, “The sexual functioning and sexual identity in adolescence and adulthood is a particularly vulnerable factor in survivors. When a child suffers sexual abuse, sexual arousal becomes activated prematurely and can largely impact the survivor’s sense of autonomy over their body and sexual sence of self.”

No one can deny that men in particular associate sex and sexual thoughts with feelings of power and control — but also immense guilt. It’s also not uncommon for men and women to feel fear, confusion, or shame while exploring sexual arousal during late childhood and early adolescence. Others will feel a connection to pain. 

One of the most psychologically damaging aspects of abuse is that the victim can feel pleasure in response to that abuse — and it would be totally normal. This leads to shame later in life, but more commonly a distrust of the body’s physiological responses to normal sexual stimuli. This can lead to conditions like sexual aversion or sexual anorexia. 

Sexual aversion occurs when a victim tries to avoid all genital contact with a partner. Those with sexual anorexia might avoid intimacy altogether. Either condition can result in connected conditions like impotence. Neither condition is a guaranteed indicator of sexual abuse.

If you’ve been the victim of abuse here in LA, a California sexual abuse attorney might be able to help determine whether or not now is the time to cast light on your past trauma. Doing so can be very difficult and painful, but it can also help a person move on from the pain. Alternatives include therapy and possibly medication.

Another condition that most people probably don’t associate with abuse is sexual addiction. This term refers to those people who cannot control their actions and have sex compulsively — often with associated feelings of shame and depression. 

Research on whether or not childhood sexual abuse can affect later sexual orientation is severely lacking, but what limited research we do have says “probably not.” Orientation is primarily dependent on biological factors like epigenetics or chemical reactions in the mother’s womb after she has already had several children. And of course there’s a ton we simply don’t know!

One of the reasons why we don’t understand whether or not abuse is connected to sexual orientation is because of the “correlation versus causation” argument. In other words, are the children who others perceive to be gay or transgendered more likely than their straight counterparts to be abused? The answer to that question based on research is “yes.” And that could have a large impact on whether or not childhood sexual abuse has an impact on orientation. 

Can I Sue For A Hate Crime?

Oxford Languages defines the term “hate crime” as such: “A crime, typically one involving violence, that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds.” Because hate crimes so often involve violence against one or more victims, that means the perpetrator has two types of liabilities: criminal and civil. Criminal liability means you might owe the jurisdiction where you were arrested money in the form of fine or restitution for the victim (plus get put in jail), and civil liability means you might be sued for any financial losses incurred by the victim because of your crime.

In most cases, victims will want to consult with a personal injury lawyer immediately after the crime takes place or as soon as they have recovered from their injuries. Needless to say, but a victim cannot recover damages without first consulting the police. In some cases, it might even be prudent to report the crime to the FBI!

Victims almost always have means to recover damages from the perpetrator because 47 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books to determine punishments for crimes that fit the category of “hate.” The federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 might also mean the perpetrator committed a federal crime.

Not sure if the criminal activity fits the definition of a hate crime? No problem. You can consult with a personal injury attorney to find out, or check UCLA Law Library’s section on hate crime statutes for a state-by-state list.

There are several types of “damages” or recompense for which a victim can sue. These include physical damages to the body, pain and suffering damages to the mind, lost wages both during and after recovery, reduced productivity damages, and punitive damages. Most of these categories are self-explanatory, but the last is based on a judge’s decision to punish the perpetrator for gross negligence — in this case through voluntary action, which is when punitive damages are most likely stacked with the rest.

Victims of a hate crime should document everything from the bills they pay and the hours they miss at work to the feelings they experience during recovery. Keeping a journal of the entire ordeal can help a personal injury attorney file a successful claim on a victim’s behalf.

What should you expect? What you shouldn’t expect is to move mountains. You are owed recompense for any losses sustained, but the vast majority of criminals who owe criminal or civil restitution pay it back slowly over a period of years — if at all. The criminal justice system has yet to find an efficient way to expedite or guarantee that restitution is paid, and you should be prepared to wait a while.

That said, you should still file a lawsuit. A crime without serious consequences is a crime that will happen again. Not only could a strong lawsuit help you but it could also help those who would have been future victims. We owe it to ourselves to hold those who would do us harm accountable for their actions!

Election Day 2020: How To Reduce Your Stress

Our community has been through a lot these past four years, which have been wildly different than the preceding eight — those were filled with victories, warmth, and mutual respect. It seems like much of that was left behind when Trump was elected in 2016. Hate crimes committed against the LGBTQ community — and toward transexuals in particular — skyrocketed from 2015 and on, in part fueled by Trump’s caustic rhetoric toward minorities.

Today’s the day the country decides whether or not the self-inflicted wound will continue to gape wide open. There’s a great chance Biden sweeps tonight, which means that wound should hopefully close over time. Until then, here’s how to reduce some of your election cycle stress.

First, get outside! Natural environments help release the happy hormones that make us less aggressive and reduce our inclination toward arguments. Plus, they help us get away from the people who are most likely to start those arguments! This is a great time to go backpacking or camping.

Being outside will also help you stay away from the constant barrage of Trump-related news, which will almost certainly continue even if Biden is elected president. 

If you can’t spend much time outdoors, then at least stay away from social media as much as you can and try to avoid the news when you switch on the TV or computer. Instead, marathon your favorite series or watch a few movies. Need to work? Then focus on the tasks at hand and keep your phone in your pocket. Your bosses will appreciate it too. 

Spend time with your loved ones. Cuddle! Body warmth releases the “love” hormones that relieve stress. Listen to music together. Watch the sunset. Read a book. Play with your children or toss a ball to Fido. Do whatever you need to do to take your mind off of what’s likely to happen tonight and over the next few days.

Were You Discriminated Against During The COVID-19 Crisis?

The world is approaching an awe-inspiring 500,000 cases, but the count is accelerating every day. Within a week or two, we’ll see a million cases or more. The fatality rate will skyrocket. Most of us are paying attention to our employment status, quality of insurance, and overall health. But it’s important to remember that some of us have to worry about these things on a daily basis — and then some.

For the LGBTQ community, times are especially tough.

While everyone else pays attention to the viral outbreak that causes the disease COVID-19, sometimes cases involving discrimination against the LGBTQ community fall through the cracks. Does it seem like no one is paying attention? You’re not alone.

And the potential for discrimination that goes unnoticed by authorities isn’t all. The community watches the pandemic with bated breath, noticing obvious parallels to the AIDS epidemic that affected it throughout the 80s, not the least of which is a president pretending that the illness isn’t really a big problem.

It’s almost worth noting that COVID-19 could be particularly damaging to the community as a whole. While rates of smoking, depression, drug use, and suicide are all decreasing with time, those rates are still among the highest of any minority demographic. Each of these represents an “underlying condition” that can make one much more susceptible to COVID-19, which has a relatively high fatality rate when compared to illnesses like the seasonal flu.

What can you do to help prevent spread among members of the community?

First and foremost, stop perusing apps like Grindr and Tinder. These only compel members to hook up. The close contact makes transmission much easier. Don’t go outdoors. Don’t see family or friends until notified it is okay to do so by the CDC. This crisis will not go away on its own, and the longer we avoid social distancing options, the longer we’ll have to do it.

Many of us currently feel that COVID-19 reactions have been overblown and that the disease isn’t really all that dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fatality rates are tens of times higher than the seasonal flu. The underlying cause of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is far more contagious. It’s possible that its infectiousness eclipses even the Spanish flu, which was the deadliest pandemic in modern human history.

Should we fail to recognize the severity of the threat and act to stop it (as China and South Korea successfully did), then millions of people could pay the ultimate price. This is serious. We should treat it that way.

The LGBTQ+ Community Supports The Impeachment Of President Donald J. Trump

LGBTQ+ voters — or at least those who ticked the box indicating they plan to vote in the 2020 Democratic primaries — say they support the impeachment of our current president, Donald Trump. This should not surprise those who have paid attention to the Trump administration’s treatment of the community while in office. In addition to rescinding or altering long-established protections for LGBTQ+ members, the number of hate crimes has continued to rise over his years in office.

90 percent of these LGBTQ+ voters believe that Trump should be both impeached and removed (it should be noted that many surveys ask these questions separately, i.e. “Do you believe Trump should be impeached?” versus “Do you believe Trump should be impeached and removed from office?”).

Only 5 percent said they did not believe Trump should be impeached and removed.

94 percent of survey respondents said they disapprove or strongly disapprove of Trump’s job performance.

Only 5 percent said they approve of Trump’s job performance.

Those who responded to the survey characterized their feelings for politicians like House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and freshman New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as somewhat favorable or very favorable. 89 percent of respondents held the opposite views on Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump is poised to become only the third president in the history of the United States to become impeached. After a lengthy debate session, a Democratic House of Representatives majority is expected to impeach a sitting president, whose case will then be turned over to the Senate for a most likely quick and superficial trial led by a Republican majority that will almost certainly keep him in office regardless of the blatant abuses of power of which he has been accused.

This will transpire only a day after Trump apparently sent Pelosi a scathing letter, once again decrying the process as unfair. He says that the facts uncovered do not exist.

Trump wrote: “The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”

What started as a somewhat coherent — yet inaccurate — letter written in opposition to the process quickly devolves into a six-page rambling stream of thought, often accusing other government officials of criminal activity (which is something he often does: deflect the accusations made against him back to those who made them in the first place.

He continues, “Congressman Adam Schiff cheated and lied all the way up to the present day, even going so far as to fraudulently make up, out of thin air, my conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine and read this fantasy language to Congress as though it were said by me. His shameless lies and deceptions, dating all the way back to the Russia Hoax, is one of the main reasons we are here today.”

News Flash: Some Of The Asylum Seekers At Our Southern Border Are LGBTQ

And they’re being persecuted both here and at home. The problem isn’t exaggerated: it’s real. There are more than 800,000 migrants seeking asylum here in the United States. The Trump Administration is trying to do everything it can to turn them back or prevent them from entering. His supporters routinely reiterate the willfully ignorant belief that the migrants wouldn’t be locked up in concentration camps if they had entered the country the “legal” way. 

But they did exactly that.

By law, asylum seekers are supposed to come into the country through a point of entry and make their application. That’s what they did. There’s nothing illegal about it. That’s why Trump is trying to change the current laws to make it illegal.

Some of these folks left their home countries because they were persecuted for sexual orientation or gender identity; we’re supposed to be more civilized in this country, right? It’s getting harder and harder to make the case when those leaning right are so heavily influenced by Fox and Friends.

The UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute believes there are around 267,000 undocumented LGBTQ residents of the United States. They face the same obstacles as the LGBTQ community in general, except those obstacles can be greatly amplified and become much more difficult to tackle simply because these people have a different ethnic origin.

One migrant shares her story that began on January 1, 2017 when she crossed the border with Mexico at El Paso, Texas — a place the entire nation knows very well by now. It’s not only the location of a recent mass shooting, but it’s one of the places where asylum seekers are legally allowed to cross into the country in order to make their application.

“That was the start of another horrible ordeal,” she says, “which was going into ICE detention. It is difficult when you show up and your appearance is completely feminine but your document says you are a man. They brought me into the famous ‘ice boxes’ as they call them. And they were full of men, and they knew that because I was there, that I was trans.”

When she was verbally assaulted and screamed at, the officials there gave her little in the way of consolation. They handcuffed her to a pole outside for the next six hours. Weeks later, she was finally transferred to a special facility, but not before enduring additional trauma.
While the experience is worse for LGBTQ individuals, it highlights the way the migrants are being treated in general: like prisoners, like criminals, like animals, but not like human beings.

What To Do If You’re LGBTQ In Miami This Year

It can be difficult to make friends in the LGBTQ community without resorting to sketchy hookup apps like Grindr, but if you live in a big city there are always plenty of activities to keep you busy — so long as you know where to look. Here are a few of the biggest LGBTQ events hosted by Miami organizations over the summer and beyond.

  1. Brothers at Sea LGBT Cruise. This one is tailored to “brothers” i.e. African American members of our community. The cruise will last for seven days and have everything you’d expect, stopping in Cozumel, New Orleans, Jamaica, and the Cayman Island on either end of three sea days. It will even include a Halloween party! The cruise departs from New Orleans at 12 p.m. on October 27 and won’t get back until November 3.

  2. LGBT “Dinner and a Movie” in Downtown Hollywood. No, not that Hollywood. This event kicks off Saturday, August 3 from 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. at 121 N 20th Ave in Hollywood, Florida. Tickets will set you back $60, but thankfully you can bring your own booze!

  3. LGBTQ+/Transgender 101 Training. This free event will begin at 2:30 p.m. and end at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 1 at the West Regional Library located at 8601 West Broward Blvd. in plantation, Florida. Head to the multi-purpose room on the first floor to get a new perspective on gender spectrum, identity, and transgender individuals in particular.

  4. Setting The Table: Cultivating Pride All Year Long. This event will take place on Thursday, July 11 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Miami Ironside Campus. Tickets cost $35. The monthly event is meant to shed light on important facets of society, and this gathering will help continue to celebrate LGBTQ pride — because it extends way past June!

  5. Riptide’s Christmas in July Pool Party. Who doesn’t love a good pool party? Even if you’re hesitant to jump into anything with the word “party,” rest assured that this one is for a good cause. The “Christmas in July” pool party will help raise funds toward the 2019 Gay Softball World Series. Food and drink are included in the price of admission, which is set at a “suggested” $20 donation. This particular event is on Saturday, July 20 from 2-7 p.m. at 2129 Northeast 61st st Court in Fort Lauderdale.

Have you ever been arrested during an LGBTQ-themed rally or event? Are you in the midst of litigation you think was born out of hate? A lawyer at Valiente Law is available to look at your case so you can have the best possible defense.