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    Measuring Concerns Over LGBTQ Safety with Travel Plans for the New Year

    By Eduardo Morales, Ph.D.–

    As 2022 draws to a close, many of us are making plans for the year ahead. Doing so gives us things to look forward to and, in terms of planning finances, allows us to create a budget that can help ensure our goals are met. One resolution may be to travel more—it is for me—and I encourage you to think outside of the box when making such plans.

    For example, consider traveling to other countries when they are holding celebrations that are not traditionally observed in the U.S. Scheduling these sorts of trips throughout the year helps to prevent burnout and can keep your curiosity and inspiration elevated. The cultural diversity within the San Francisco Bay Area can inspire your wish to travel internationally. Just take necessary precautions, given that the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, along with RSV and other health threats.

    Unfortunately, as LGBTQ individuals, we must also keep in mind how our rights are protected—or not—both here in the U.S. and in other countries.

    The Thomson Reuters Foundation notes that LGBTQ+ murder rates are at alarmingly high levels in Latin America. The report estimates that four LGBTQ+ people are murdered every day in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the past five years, 1,300 LGBTQ+ people were reported to have been murdered in these regions, with the highest rates being in Columbia, Mexico, and Honduras. Most of the victims were young gay men aged 18 to 25 and who were most likely murdered in their homes, while transgender women were more often killed in the streets.

    An FBI report concerning hate crimes towards LGBTQ+ individuals here in the states noted an increase from 2.2% in 2018 to 2.7% in 2019. The reported data can be found in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s Hate Crime Statistics Data Collection. Fatal violence was found to be more prevalent against transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S., particularly against Black and Brown transgender women.

    Since hate crimes are not always reported, the data appears to represent a fraction of such violent incidences. A publication by the Bureau of Justice Statistics entitled “Violent Victimization by Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, 2018–2020” supports the vast evidence obtained about violence toward LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. Data from other countries varies and is compromised by their methods of reporting.

    Weighing on our minds is the recent nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs on November 20, 2022. Five individuals were murdered and 25 were injured at Club Q. Although this club was thought to be a safe haven for members of our community, it was vulnerable to attack. Similarly, Pulse in Florida was also viewed as a safe place for members of our community. In June of 2016, 49 people were murdered there and 53 were wounded. Most who died during the massacre were Latinx LGBTQ+ individuals.

    While these tragic events and reports documenting other violence are of great concern for our community, we need to balance our need for safety with our need for human connection, socializing, exploration, and much more. These activities are important for our physical and mental health as well.

    I plan to attend many events and to travel in the upcoming year and to do so as safely as possible. I hope you will do so too, staying vigilant and informed, but also staying curious and hopeful for better days ahead for all of us.

    Eduardo Morales, Ph.D. is a Professor Emeritus, retired Distinguished Professor, and current adjunct professor at Alliant International University. He is also a licensed psychologist and a founder and current Executive Director of AGUILAS, an award-winning program for Latinx LGBTQ+. Of Puerto Rican decent, he has received numerous distinguished awards and citations, including being named a Fellow of 12 divisions of the American Psychological Association.

    Nuestra Voz
    Published on December 1, 2022