These Tragedies Are Why We Need To Stop Sexualizing LGBTQIA+ People

by Amber Leventry
Originally Published: 

Some folks didn’t get the memo that June is Pride month. Instead of joining the March for acceptance and equality, they are going to keep beating and killing LGBTQIA+ people instead. What part of oversaturated media coverage of queer stories, businesses cashing in on a marginalized community, and 11 out of 12 months of an ignored and underrepresented population could have possibly led them to continue to hate and hurt queer and transgender people?

Pride month hasn’t resulted in less violence against LGBTQIA+ people because people don’t care what day or month it is when their sexuality is threatened. Let me be clear: Get the fuck over yourselves and stop sexualizing my community.

Early in June, four men attacked two women on a London bus when they refused to kiss in front of them. They called them lesbians (one woman later described herself as bisexual) and kept describing sexual positions. The men wanted to watch. They wanted to get off on two women getting it on. I hate to break it to you, guys, but women don’t have sex for your enjoyment. And the porn you see between two women isn’t real. It’s business. These women are making money off of the men who fantasize about them having sex. It has created a warped sense of human sexuality that causes both erections and violent, public beatings, some of which lead to murder.

28-year-old, Melania Geymonat was one of the women attacked. She said, “I’m tired of being taken as a SEXUAL OBJECT, of finding out that these situations are usual, of gay friends who were beaten up JUST BECAUSE. We have to endure verbal harassment AND CHAUVINIST, MISOGYNISTIC AND HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE because when you stand up for yourself shit like this happens.”

And I am not just talking to straight, cisgender men. There are plenty of straight, cis women who need to hear this too. And to the women who think they are accepting of the queer community but tolerate their men being bigots, you are part of the problem too. Also, every sexual act that is given as a “reward” for a task done around the house is part of the problem. Anything done to add to men’s engrained notion that they are entitled to sex and sexual favors feeds directly into violence against the LGBTQIA+ community.

Because when women are no longer something to be consumed, when men are told they are not needed or wanted, their egos can’t take it. They become angry. They become violent.

The bloodied face of Geymonat and her date, known simply as Chris to protect her privacy, was all over the news. It triggered many people to take notice, but as Chris pointed out in a follow-up essay for The Guardian, she knows it was in part because she and Geymonat are white, attractive women. She writes, “The commodification and exploitation of my face came at the expense of other victims whose constant persecution apparently does not warrant similar moral outrage. Make the extraordinary reaction to our attack the norm.”

The norm seems to be to ignore the continued killing of transgender women, specifically black women. Three black transgender women have been killed in June, and there have been 10 reported murders of black trans women so far in 2019. The latest victim was 23-year-old Zoe Spears, who lived outside of Washington D.C. and was found 4 blocks from where Ashanti Carmon, another black transgender woman, was murdered in March.

Both women happened to be sex workers. Transgender WOC are the most at risk for discrimination, job loss, and housing insecurity. They do what they need to do to survive. The men who use and then kill transgender women have such deep-seeded feelings of shame and fear that they blame the victim for their violence. Society has tried to convince people that body parts equal gender; the message is that if you are a man who gets a blow job from a woman with a penis then you must be gay because only men have penises. And if you are gay, you should be ashamed. You are not normal. You are bad.

This intersection of racism and transphobia feed into both external and internalized homophobia that leads to violence. There is a very egotistical notion that a queer person will hit on any person in sight, no matter their sexuality. Many straight people assume they are “at risk” for such advances. It’s an attack-before-I’m-attacked mentality. This gay and trans “panic” defense is a legal strategy that is used to blame a defendant’s violence on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been banned in four states and is pending legislation in other states, according to the LGBT Bar. This “defense” plays into the stigma that LGBTQIA+ people are oversexed sexual deviants who are also pedophiles and rapists.

One more time for the people in the back: Stop sexualizing queer people. We are so much more than sex. And please stop flattering yourself: We are not after your sex. Women loving women is not meant for straight men’s consumption. Gay men are not looking to make moves on straight men—they know that shit is dangerous. And transwomen, transmen, and nonbinary folks are not a threat to your masculinity or sexuality.

If our existence feels like a threat, then stay in your lane, cis, straight folks. Check your ego, and stop beating and killing LGBTQIA+ people. Or at least take a break in June. It is Pride month after all.

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