Bay Area Reporter Guest Opinion by Martha Knutzen and Reese Aaron Isbell

Martha Knutzen, Co-Chair Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club

Martha Knutzen, Co-Chair 

Reese Aaron Isbell, Co-Chair Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club

Reese Aaron Isbell, Co-Chair

Recent events, whether it is against a gay man in a dorm at a public university, or a young African American man walking at night in a gated community in Florida, or a woman in San Francisco who was the victim of false imprisonment by her husband in her home, call upon our leaders to raise their voices against the vast undercurrent of violence that works to frighten and intimidate members of all marginalized groups in society. The public response to these acts of violence literally makes the difference between frightening all of us, whether we are LGBT, women, or people of color; or freeing us to live in a safe and tolerant society where we are all respected and treated fairly.

Our LGBT community has come out strongly and publicly 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.

While it does get better, it is also true that bullying doesn’t always end after the school years.  Bullying schoolyard youth are but one tactic of an oppressive society. When adult members of our culture perpetuate a violent, demeaning, hurtful, bullying environment for anyone, it does so to reinforce its oppressive, misogynist, racist, anti-LGBT framework. This is true whether it’s via our businesses and corporations, an outdated legal system, hateful legislators or intimidating power-brokers, shock jocks and faux-news commentators, or even the very likes of Rush Limbaugh.

The Alice B Toklas LGBT Democratic Club supports all the public leaders who have called out to support the people who are the recent victims of the cowardly bullies in our society. We applaud President Barack Obama for calling and supporting a young woman who spoke for her reproductive rights, and for saying the tragic death of a young African American man could have been his own son. We join with the millions of people who stood up to Limbaugh and his tactics attacking a female law student, and the millions who wear hoodies in solidarity for Trayvon Martin. We stand with San Francisco’s advocates against domestic violence, when they protect the witnesses to violence against women and speak out, regardless of the political environment, for homes without violence. And, we are proud of a mayor and a district attorney who state clearly that there should be a consequence for falsely imprisoning your wife.

The personal is political. In San Francisco, many of us moved here to build a better world and we are proud of innovative public policy that leads the nation’s response to our social problems. Our LGBT community responded over 30 years ago to stop the deaths of our brothers and sisters from AIDS. Our Commission on the Status of Women has worked for as many years to build a public system that responds to the victims of domestic violence, whether it is against women or men, whether it is in same-sex or opposite-sex households. We ensure our public agencies protect against attacks against people of color and immigrants.

We all work and support these public responses because it makes everyone’s world safer. And, when we speak out against violence against anyone who is bullied because of their race, gender, immigration status or sexual orientation, we are also protecting ourselves from political forces that would make it acceptable to deny rights to marginal groups in our society.

In our recent monthly newsletter, the Alice B Toklas LGBT Democratic Club encouraged anyone who is being harmed by domestic violence to seek help from the public agencies we have here in San Francisco. In that spirit of public support against violence everywhere, we reprint them below.

Bullying occurs at all levels of our society. But so does support. 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, at your job, on the street, on the radio, anywhere. 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 ( 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


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