Pride Month 2023: Empowering LGBTQ+ Survivors

Celebrating LGBTQ+ Survivors at NYC Pride

In the midst of the floats lining up on Fifth Avenue and the massive crowds gathering for NYC Pride, a young woman approached Sanctuary staff who were preparing to march. She revealed that she had been a client of Sanctuary’s Campus Advocate Project, which provides legal consultations and representation to student survivors of gender-based violence, including sexual violence. With the help of Sanctuary’s attorneys, she was able to leave her abusive relationship and go back to school.

That kind of story is what Sanctuary is all about. For almost 40 years, Sanctuary has been a pillar of the community, providing holistic, comprehensive services for all survivors of gender violence, empowering clients, and enabling them to attain safety, healing, and self-determination.

Within this mission is an unwavering commitment to equal rights and freedom from discrimination. Each June, Pride Month celebrates the strength and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community, but the work is year-round. Anti-LGBTQ+ hate is on the rise, with ADL and GLAAD reporting over 350 anti-LGBTQ+ incidents between June 2022 and April 2023. As the community continues to fight against discrimination, Sanctuary’s commitment to providing free and available service to all individuals, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, is more important than ever.

“[Pride] was a joyous celebration of LGBTQ+ pride and a reaffirmation of the basic human right to love whomever we choose. This is evermore critical in these times of increasing attacks on gay and transgender rights.” – Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director

Visibility has always been at the core of social change, and the NYC Pride March served as a powerful platform to uplift queer survivors. Our dedicated staff members, survivors, and supporters proudly marched through the streets, spreading the word about Sanctuary’s services and unapologetically demanding an end to gender-based violence. The cheers and applause from the crowd served as a powerful testament to the collective determination to eradicate violence and create a safer future for all.

“It was incredible to not only feel like Sanctuary was out in full support of the LGBTQ+ community, but also the cheers we got for our signs and for believing survivors was everything,” said Geny Kimbrell, Senior Manager of Special Events, when reflecting on the march on Sunday. “You could see the looks on people’s faces as they read our signs, and that felt meaningful.”

In the midst of this ongoing fight, the Pride Parade shined a spotlight on the hope, love, and joy that has defined the movement. Seeing survivors, allies, and activists come together to celebrate love, equality, and acceptance was a profound reminder that change is possible, inspiring us to carry the momentum forward and continue the fight for a world free from violence, discrimination, and inequality.

Intimate Partner Violence in the LGBTQ+ Community

While narratives around gender violence often center on heterosexual relationships, intimate partner violence does not discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. In fact, abuse occurs in LGBTQ+ relationships at similar or even higher rates than in the general population. The HRC reported that 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner compared to 35% of straight women. Trans and non-binary folks are also at a heightened risk for violence, with 54% experiencing some form of intimate partner violence.

LGBTQ+ individuals facing intimate partner violence often encounter unique barriers when seeking help. Fear of outing themselves, concerns about discrimination from service providers, and the limited availability of LGBTQ+-affirming resources can hinder survivors from reaching out. Survivors may face multiple forms of discrimination based on intersecting identities such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or disability. These unique challenges often lead to silence, isolation, and difficulty seeking help.

Events such as NYC Pride present a rare opportunity to acknowledge the complex realities of navigating care as an LGBTQ+ survivor, as well as raise awareness about the services available to the millions who attended the parade. Even as Sanctuary continues to provide services to more than 7,200 survivors a year, greater efforts–education, advocacy, and changing the narrative–are essential to ending discrimination and harassment and creating a world free from gender violence.

Learn more about intimate partner violence in the LGTBQ+ community.

You Are Not Alone: Resources and Services for Queer Survivors

We want to remind our fellow New Yorkers that Sanctuary’s services are free and available to ALL individuals regardless of race, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, national origin, citizenship status, or marital status. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help.

Learn more about safety planning and download our guide by clicking here.

For support on a national level, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

See below for some queer-specific resources:

The Trevor Project
(866) 488-7386 (24/7)

The Trevor Project’s mission is to end suicide among LGBTQ young people.

NYC Anti-Violence Project
(212) 714-1141 (24/7)

AVP empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy.

The Network/La Red
(800) 832-1901 (24/7)

The Network/La Red is a survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, kink, polyamorous, and queer communities.

Northwest Network
(206) 568-7777 (Mon–Fri, 9am-5pm)

NW Network supports queer & trans survivors in reconnecting to their self-determination through advocacy-based counseling and community education.

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