Columns, Opinion

What Grinds My Gears: Why isn’t the #MeToo movement more gay?

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.



  1. William W. DeLaney III

    I feel pretty comfortable that other gay men would believe me, actually. I feel that gay men tend to be exceptionally tolerant and forgiving in bedroom situations, and I know that other gay men are likely to know this. I think that, if I started trying to report an actual crime to a friend who was a gay man, his first response would be, “I hear you glossing over details. Stop. You don’t have to protect this guy. Tell me exactly what happened, now.” I feel supported by my local gay community, although I will grant that there is a possibility that I have just been lucky.

    I do feel that gay men’s romantic lives can be seriously misinterpreted by police officers. My husband’s ex-husband, who is now our close friend, was briefly in a relationship with a lover that it turned out was psycho. The guy once broke into his house and attempted to join him in his bed, and our friend, upon awakening, immediately broke out punching and kicking and shoving, which resulted in the crazy lover falling into a glass credenza. When the cops got involved, they proceeded to arrest our friend on charges of aggravated assault and battery…for defending himself in his own home.

    Well, the story just shows that it didn’t register in the minds of the cops that our friend was lying in his own house, and this guy had broken into his house and sexually assaulted him in his own bed. If most women were to report this nightmare scenario, their reactions would be different.

    I am not as worried about other gay men’s reactions to what I have to say as I am about the reactions of police officers. They really need to receive more sound training on this. I don’t think they’re trying to be vicious toward us, but I think that they are genuinely just not getting the training that they need, which is not their fault but the fault of policy.

  2. Rutgie Howser

    The last thing the LGBTQ community needs is to be further swept up into the panic. The gay community used to be about getting fisted in the basements of seedy bars and having orgies in bath houses. I don’t want it to be about crying to the cops because somebody got patted on the butt. Or, let’s at least accept something that ought to be regarded as a truth by now: gay male and female sexual responsivity are on completely different levels, and we should not bring the much more discursive, less tolerant female attitudes to bear upon gay male sexuality. Doing so will only bring attitudes of punishment ONCE AGAIN upon men doing what they do. (If females are victimized more by male sexuality than males are victimized by female sexuality, we must also admit that males are punished for their sexuality much more than women –see the Holocaust for evidence.)

    If it gets to a certain level men should feel comfortable saying “#metoo” and seeking support, public services, and even the police if necessary. But in general, gay men should be tolerant of the indecencies of other gay males. As a man who has had his share of being propositioned, ogled, groped, and pestered by males I say to women not “#metoo” but “who cares?” I prefer to live in a world where groping can occur, and don’t want to turn every error in judgment into a sob story.

  3. Matthew Timmis

    What I have to say here may not be popular, but I simply think that #MeToo is a dangerous witch-hunt movement. Yes, I believe Weinstein’s victims by and large, but I do not believe that trial by social media is a good idea. The best place to trial sex offenders is in a court of law, not on Twitter, where no one mouthing off about it has any idea about what did or did not happen. For instance, many of Weinstein’s victims took pay-outs. Well, I am not sure of the legal technicalities, but I am pretty sure if I take a $100,000 settlement like Rose McGowan did, then I am not sure that you can then take it to the courts after that.

    With sexual harassment, there is also gradual concept creep. In the 1970s, it meant asking for sexual favours for a promotion. In the 1980s it meant anyone who was too touchy was in trouble. In the 1990s people started being careful about jokes. Now compliments and even asking people for dates is danger. Recent feminist articles have suggested that holding doors for women could be classed as harassment because it infers female inferiority. Wow, I hold doors for both men and women and it is me being nice! I do not want to live in a sexually fearful society where everyone assumes the worst about others. I would also remind other gay people that a Puritan crackdown on sexual expression is unlikely to be great for gay people in the long run. #MeToo contains dangerous aspects.

  4. This article is spot on. A clear example of this is Law and Order SVU which has almost 20 seasons of heterosexual crimes with a few gay male victims thrown in there. We don’t get to see LGBTQ victims, which speaks to society’s views on them. We rarely hear about a #metoo moment involving members of the LGBTQ community, especially ones that are not heteronormative.

  5. This article is very well done. As a gay man who was sexually assaulted under 3 separate occasions, my experience as a survivor has been undermined by health care professionals, friends in the queer community and my family. When it was found out that this happened to me in a bar, the health care practitioner responding to my case told me that this is to be expected when I drink at a gay bar. My queer friends with me at the bar, told me this is something that just happens to young people when out at a queer club, my family told me that it’s part of the lifestyle I had chosen. I’ve been too scared of posting #metoo onto my social media because these events that have traumatised me for the last 4 years of my life, is often undermined due to my sexuality.

    The framing of gay men as sexual deviants and predators needs to stop and we need to allow more space and compassion for queer survivors.

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