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Love and Violence in Black LGBTQ Communities

Love and Violence in Black LGBTQ Communities

The Jills* were the envy among us lesbian couples of African descent. Their public display of love for each other and their exchanges of their special terms of endearment was the stuff you read in romance novels. They were inseparable and we distinguished them by calling them Jill and Jillie.

When I received the call that one was being seen in the ER and other one was being detained by the police for battering I knew it had to be a mistake. But looking back there were visible signs of inter-personal violence (IPV) that we sistah-friends came to understand and wished we could have intervened on their behalf. But we were so enamored, envious and awestruck by their oversized demonstrative displays of love and seemingly respect for each other we didn’t see their troubled marriage.

October is Domestic Awareness Month, and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities of color, not enough attention, education, intervention and advocacy is given to this issue.

The 2014 Advocate article “2 Studies That Prove Domestic Violence is an LGBT issue” reports that ”21.5 percent of men and 35.4 percent of women living with a same-sex partner experienced intimate-partner physical violence in their lifetimes... Transgender respondents had an incidence of 34.6 percent over a lifetime according to a Massachusetts survey.” The Inter-Personal Violence (IPV) study conducted in 2011 LGBTQ stated that LGBTQ communities of color are one of the demographic groups experiencing high incidents of domestic violence.

However, to obtain accurate statistics of how high IPV is in these communities are obfuscated by social stigmas and cultural taboos, not excluding also racism and other forms of oppressions and discriminations.

What also interferes in obtaining accurate statistics on how high IPV is in these communities of color is that same-gender interpersonal violence is clouded with myths. And within these communities there are several cultural barriers preventing reporting domestic violence and receiving interventive services.The Black Church is one of them.

Jill grew up in the church and whenever troubled and heavy burdened she took her woes and concerns there. The network of support through prayer and counselling weren’t available to Jill and her spouse once she came out.

In 2016 many black churches are woefully far behind the country’s acceptance of LGBTQ Americans. These places of worship are still spewing homophobic rhetoric from their bully pulpits. And unfortunately, some LGBTQ victims of IPV have internalized the church’s message they are an abomination to