Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Domestic violence in the GLBT community: From the NFL to Memphis

Two items on domestic violence at The Advocate made me pause this morning. The big headline was that openly gay former Minnesota Vikings player Esera Tuaolo has been charged with domestic assault. I want to emphasize Tuaolo has been charged, not convicted. Still, the allegations are troubling given his work to try to reduce homophobia in professional sports.

If it had been a straight male athlete currently playing for a major professional team, most observers would simply treat it as another example in a long list of highly publicized cases of "boys behaving badly." As The Bleacher Report's Scott Goll said a few years ago, "Yet, it's almost an afterthought when we read about it buried in the sports pages. It doesn't live long in our psyche, especially if he goes on to hit a game-winning homer the next day—all is forgiven somehow."

But what the charges against Tuaolo bring up for me is the invisibility of domestic violence in the GLBT community. As if to underscore the point, the Advocate linked to a clip from the TLC show Police Women of Memphis (I had no idea there even was such a show!) that captures the aftermath of a domestic violence call:

We can be thankful that there are officers like the one who responded to the call. Not all victims are treated so considerately. Amnesty International USA has outlined some of the problems in police response to domestic violence in the GLBT community. For example:

"Only 17% of police departments report having specific policies on same-sex domestic violence. 83% of police departments report providing training on issues around same-sex domestic violence. 14% of police departments report that they do not train on issues around same-sex domestic violence. "

We are fortunate in Tennessee that organizations like the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence do wonderful, inclusive work around these issues. They list this information if you or someone you know needs help with domestic violence:

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. For resources in Tennessee call 1-800-356-6767 or 1-800-799-7233 (National Domestic Violence Hotline).

-Chris Sanders

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