Queer Too: Kevin Spacey And Normalising Sexual assault Within Queer Culture
After the recent sexual assault allegations against Kevin Spacey and his subsequent coming out I had initially thought that this might shed light on the issue of sexual assault within queer spaces. But instead I saw something else; people passionately having to protect queer identities from being aligned with predatory behaviour and in doing so silencing victims of assault within the queer community.
It is true to say that queer rights are better than they had once been, but the fight is not over and the scars of our history still affect every facet of our lives. A decade ago when I entered my secondary education it was only 5 years after Section 28 had been repealed and schools were allowed to talk openly about homosexuality. It is this kind of environment that meant that most people’s first interactions with the LGBTQ+ community were behind closed doors and the question has to be asked, what kind of protections are people afforded in the shadows?
Of course, if you’re behind closed doors with completely innocent people there isn’t a problem, and I at no point want to suggest that there is anything fundamentally predatory about queer individuals, because there isn’t. But the same factors that create misogynistic straight men create misogynistic queer men; if men are taught to believe they are both entitled to sexual gratification and that an inability to get it is weak then what kind of behaviour are they going to exhibit?
The best and most obvious example I can give about how misogyny affects the queer community would be the popular dating app for men, Grindr. Essentially Grindr allows men to see how far other men are from them who might be looking for anything from a romantic interaction to immediate sex. Go on this app for a month and you will receive hundreds of unsolicited inappropriate photos, offers of sex and offers of money for sexual acts. I first downloaded this app when I was 17, and consequently met the first person I slept with. I know men who started as young as 13. If there were more resources available to allow young people to interact with the queer community, if people could discuss sexuality honestly and openly in schools, and if we made inroads to fight casual and internalised homophobia across generations, then young people would neither seek out or be placed in an environment where sex is commodified in this manner.
When I was 19 I started going to gay clubs, and whilst it isn’t true to say that these clubs have any more of a ‘hook-up culture’ than straight clubs it also wouldn’t be fair to say that sexual assault didn’t occur within these environments. The amount of times me or my friends have been harassed or touched by men and had this behaviour excused because they’re “drunk” or any number of reasons (how we dress, that we started a conversation, they bought us a drink, we were dancing, etc) is ridiculous.
As opposed to this kind of behaviour being unknown to the majority of the queer community, it is instead accepted as normal or something we can’t talk about because of the fear that doing so would have a negative impact on our civil rights. It is especially the case that straight people I know have been uncomfortable mentioning things or making a fuss for fear of being labelled homophobic. We need to fight misogyny wherever it presents itself and we can’t continue being silent about how rape culture affects queer people.