The #MeToo movement has accomplished some incredible things. It’s ousted powerful men from their powerful positions. It’s started a national — if not international — conversation about the sexual assault and harassment that is far too prevalent.
It’s also empowered victims to speak their truth and feel supported. It has empowered women — straight, cisgender, white women to be more precise.
In fact, the lack of diversity within the movement is #MeToo’s biggest issue. It’s not that heteronormative white women don’t deserve to tell their stories and be taken seriously. They do. But it’s that other people deserve to be heard too.
When queer people speak out about their sexual assault or harassment experiences, they don’t get nearly the same media coverage as heteronormative women. This has created an environment where queer people don’t feel as comfortable speaking out.
It’s easy to share an uncomfortable or horrific experience when you see other people like you having their shared experiences validated. Unfortunately, this is not happening for the LGBTQ+ community.
And it’s not from a lack of prevalence. Queer women and men are the victims of sexual crimes far more than their heterosexual counterparts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 44 percent of lesbian women, 61 percent of bisexual women and 35 percent of straight women have experienced “rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner” in their lifetime.
The survey also found similar statistics among men: 26 percent of gay men, 37 percent of bisexual men and 29 percent straight men experienced those same sexual crimes.
This doesn’t include transgender and gender fluid individuals. Forty-seven percent of transgender people are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes and the statistics are similar for gender fluid and non-binary individuals, according to a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Clearly, sexual crimes are also an issue in LGBTQ+ community — they just aren’t getting their #MeToo moment.
People usually view sexual harassment and assault as a heteronormative man attacking a heteronormative woman. Because society has a hard time defining what sexual assault actually is, including something that doesn’t fit the standard definition complicates the issue and is often forgotten about.
This is one of the reasons why queer people have been left out of the #MeToo movement, even though they are victims of sexual assault and harassment at far higher rates. Fetishizing queer people is another reason for the lack of attention.
Society has, for a long time, sexualized queer relationships. For the third year in a row, the most searched for term on PornHub in 2017 was lesbian. Queer people, specifically lesbians, have become synonymous with sexual fantasy.
People in the LGBTQ+ community are also often viewed as hypersexual or sexually deviant, so society often disregards instances of queer people being sexually abused. Much of society justifies these crimes thinking: “They actually liked it. They had it coming. It’s what people like them do.”
Of course, this isn’t true, but it’s the attitude we’ve developed as a society. The #MeToo movement is supposed to be about shedding light on the horrific sexual abuse that happens constantly. But the light is only shining on one group of people. The LGBTQ+ community is being left in the dark, which only perpetuates the notion that this behavior is at all permissible.
The movement has grown and evolved over its lifetime, so as we continue to fight for justice, we need to remember the queer community. #MeToo should become a safe space where anyone can tell their stories and feel validated. The next phase of the movement is including the queer people, the people of color and the people who have been forgotten.
We need to stop framing abuse as heteronormative, and start accepting that anyone can be sexaully harassed or assaulted.
Anyone can have a #MeToo.
If you’re in the LGBTQ+ community and experiencing sexual harassment or abuse, you can contact the NW Network at 206-568-7777 for help.