By Jimmy Meagher
October 17, 2019
It’s October, which means it’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month (#DVAM). Although it’s imperative that we speak out against domestic violence and intimate partner violence each and every month, October is a time to really ring the alarm to get everybody’s attention. We wear purple, we march, we outreach, and we dialogue, with the hope of shining a light on some of the most insidious forms of violence and abuse in our society.
October also happens to be LGBT History Month. Why October? The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, the first march of its kind in the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights here in America, took place on October 14, 1979. And the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights took place on October 11, 1987. Afterwards, the LGBTQ+ family began observing National Coming Out Day on October 11th every year since. National Coming Out Day is a celebration of coming out and a platform for raising awareness about the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. And beginning in 1994, our community began celebrating LGBT History Month to build on the momentum of these events.
The history of LGBTQ+ communities is a history of pain and violence – state violence, hate violence, gender-based violence, and yes, domestic violence. But it is also a history of pride, beauty, and resilience. A lot has changed over the decades, but the LGBTQ+ family continues to fight for equality, safety, and security for all. Our transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary siblings, especially trans folks of color, face violence from outside the community and from within. And it is on all of us to do everything we can to call out and end this violence.
We cannot talk about domestic violence without discussing gender-based violence, hate violence, gun violence, and all other interconnected forms of violence and abuse. All are deeply linked to systemic sexism, racism, heterosexism, cisgenderism, and other systems of violent oppression.
Last month I testified at a City Council hearing about access to emergency domestic violence shelters and about services for transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary survivors — I said “they face all of the same obstacles and challenges that many cisgender survivors do: trauma, confusing and controlling systems, economic insecurity, the herculean task of finding affordable permanent housing, etc. But they also face discrimination, hate, and additional forms of violence.” It’s incumbent upon us to transform society into one that allows survivors to heal, thrive, and succeed, especially survivors from the communities we marginalize most.
Safe Horizon strives to be an inclusive, accepting, healing environment for all survivors. When it comes to serving LGBTQ+ survivors, we train and support staff, but we can always do better. We are grateful to work alongside organizations like the NYC Anti-Violence Project (AVP), which works with LGBTQ+ survivors. We have leaned on and learned from AVP’s expertise countless times, whether for training staff, consulting on individual cases, or advocating together around issues facing survivors. Our present can feel so dark and scary at times. But I am never more optimistic about our future than when I am in community with the advocates, activists, and survivors who work tirelessly each day to make our world a better place for everybody.
Domestic violence in all its forms is an endemic and enduring disease in our society and our world. Until we confront that reality, this violence will persist.
This October, I am taking the #PutTheNailinIt vow to end domestic violence. This symbolic gesture will show the world I am committing myself to unlearning the sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic messages that are in the air we breathe.