Life After Love; It Gets Better
Over the last few years our LGBT community has spoken out strongly on the issue of bullies in the schoolyard. After a series of high-profile deaths, we were able to speak through YouTube and other means to our young people directly and offer them hope and support. The ‘It Gets Better’ videos have reached millions through everyday people joining in, as well as celebrities and politicians, to speak out against violence against LGBT youth.
In light of the recent domestic violence and false imprisonment charges against our very our County Sheriff, it’s important to ask ourselves: what about bullies in one’s own home? Our community members not only experience fear as youth growing up, but also there are many in our own community who have their own experiences with domestic violence in a same-sex household.
Years ago, as a community outreach trainer for the Washington, DC Police Department, I would speak on issues of abuse in same-sex households because one of the first and most common ways that police departments around the country deal directly with the LGBT population is through domestic quarrels. Often, one partner is afraid of the other for issues related to family/employment secrecy, physical size, immigration status, HIV/AIDS health status, loss of friends/networks, and many of the other common reasons for domestic violence in the home.
Just as with bullies in the schoolyard, bullies in the home is a national matter that must be addressed. We cannot continue to stand by silently while there are those in our country living in constant fear of their own partner, opposite sex or same sex. We must stand in solidarity with our community organizations who work to end domestic violence and speak out for those who cannot always speak themselves. And we must speak directly to our own community in order to give hope and support that there is a full life and community beyond a current relationship.
Cher once had a hugely popular song with the lyric: “Do you believe in life after love?” Everyone, LGBT or straight, has longed for love at one point in time, and has hoped to find a partner that will bring them that love. When it seems to be found, it can be hard to see the road after, if the relationship itself isn’t working. There can be much fear of the unknown, the life after the love, and sometimes fear of the partner themself. If the partner is intimidating, violent, demeaning, hurtful, bullying, it can seem completely overwhelming to break free. In fact, it may be so overwhelming that breaking free isn’t even a consideration.
Just as with the YouTube phenomenon that Dan Savage wisely began, I’m here to tell you that there is Life After Love; It Gets Better. If you’re in a relationship that is hurting you mentally, physically, psychologically, draining you of all your own energy and life, it’s not really ‘love’ anymore. Maybe it once was; maybe it felt good long ago; maybe you can remember some good times; but it’s no longer ‘love.’
Know that there are people and community organizations and resources all around you, in this City and nation, who will help you. Know that you are not alone. Know that there is something better than letting yourself be bullied constantly in your own home. Know that It Gets Better.
For more information, or to talk to someone, check out the following resources (just a few of many out there if you need help):
- Community United Against Violence (CUAV) SF Hotline: (415) 333-HELP (4357)
- National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs: 212-714-1141
- Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project: national hotline: 1-800-832-1901
Reese Aaron Isbell, Co-Chair
Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club