Today, we remember the 49 people lost two years ago on this day in a senseless act of gun violence during the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Most of those lost that night were young, Latinx members of the LGBTQ community simply enjoying a night out with their friends and loved ones, and yet, somehow there are still conversations going on across America questioning whether gun control should be an LGBTQ priority.
Over the last year, we have witnessed regular news media headlines coming out of Washington, D.C. with a state of shock, horror, and anger. Specifically, we have been alarmed by the rollback of protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth and students.
“I would kill myself.” This is what a 70 year-old transgender woman told me recently when I asked what she would do if she needed long-term care. While this sounds dramatic, it is a common sentiment among older transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) adults (Witten, 2014). Many TGNC older adults do not have family caregivers available to meet their needs for assistance in later life, having been rejected and ostracized by their families of origin according to a study by Grant and colleagues (2011), and long-term care services may be their only option.
How is the current sociopolitical climate impacting at-risk LGBTQ youth? It could predict more peer victimization of LGBTQ students. Parents and school personnel can do a lot to change community or school climate.
They say, “Black boys turn blue in the moonlight”. In the Oscar winning movie Moonlight, the story follows character Chiron as he develops into a man. What’s interesting about Chiron’s story is that it mirrors that of countless other African American men. Chiron is simply not allowed to “be” – he’s bullied for being “Little,” beaten because of his demeanor, and denied the opportunity to safely and freely explore his sexuality. It is indeed under this distress that Black boys turn blue.
This September, I met with staff members in the Office of Civil Rights, at the U.S. Department of Education (DOEd) in Washington, D.C. to talk about the risks posed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) students by disaffirming religious universities/colleges (DRUs).
Through a very complete body of research, the field of psychology has established that a person’s identity is composed of several different parts. However, psychological research projects often only focus on one or two aspects of identity. As we move towards a more complete picture of human behavior, we must remember to keep in mind that the intersections of identity are a vital piece of that picture.
On August 11, 2016, the CDC released the results of the first national study of sexual minority high school students. These data show that LGB students experience far greater risks of violence and bullying than their heterosexual peers.
After the horrific shooting on June 12, 2016 at Pulse, a popular gay bar in Orlando, Florida, many of the victims were in extreme need of blood transfusions. Driven by empathy and solidarity with the victims, gay and bisexual men rushed to area hospitals and blood donation centers to help, along with scores of their Orlando neighbors. Sadly, hundreds identifying as men who have sex with men (MSM) were turned away because current FDA regulations prohibit gay and bisexual men from donating blood unless they abstain from sex with other men for a full year before donating blood.
Although the solid links between the LGBT community and the HIV prevention and treatment communities resulted in a strong show of solidarity after Orlando, there is another reason HIV care providers and educators should be concerned about the shooting and its aftermath: It is an instance of the stigma that can increase the risk of HIV transmission and reduce the ability of people with HIV to fight their disease.