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    Wrapping Up the Year with Real LGBT Sexual Liberation

    By Andrea Shorter–

    Tis’ the season for year-end wrap ups of the news highlights before we ring in the New Year. There will be the usual array of most spectacular spectacles in the worlds of entertainment, sports, science, technology, and politics cast against the not so categorical incidents of tragedies and inspiring stories in celebration of the human spirit. Here and there will be “Persons of the Year.” Thanks to President Trump for, yet again, so gracefully and eloquently expressing his disinterest in being named as Time magazine’s Person of the Year, generously making room for a far worthier person to grace its cover.

    At most years’ end, many of us are just thankful to have made it through, keeping our heads above water, and that we’re here to see another 12 months come to pass. Even so, this year will definitely end with particularly undeniable remarkable moments in American history to date. This first year of an absurdly twitter riddled Trump Presidency, and all of its sulfuric volcanic lava that has since flowed to scorch the earth, is likely to outpace any other socio-cultural-political series of events.

    I’m not an avid end of year list keeper, but I do think it would be fair to say that a very close second to more or less surviving to date a Trump Presidency would be the continual onslaught of sexual harassment and assault revelations and allegations involving powerful figures in entertainment, media, and politics. In addition to the numerous harrowing and horrific accounts of gross sexual misconduct primarily involving media figures Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, and most recently Matt Lauer, gut wrenching accounts accorded to highly regarded political figures U.S. Senator Al Franken and U.S. Representative John Conyers elevated concerns about abuses within the corridors of power from D.C. to Sacramento and beyond.

    While a prosecutor, controversial U.S. Senatorial candidate Judge Roy Moore of Alabama appears to have held a side career of preying upon underage girls and young women. As “openly held secrets,” his offenses were rampant to the extent that he was virtually banned from a shopping mall. Similar to the ascension to the presidency of self-professed serial sex offender Donald Trump, it is expected that Alabama voters will nevertheless send Moore on to Washington, D.C.

    With the vast majority of objects of prey being cisgender women, the victimization of men to similar abuses of power has been nearly overcast and overlooked. #MeToo accounts from footballer turned comic actor Terry Crews, and long-embattled former child star Cory Feldman who was subjected to sexual harassment and assault by high-level Hollywood executives, remained the chief highlighted reports.

    Then came allegations against House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey by a fellow actor who was, while a minor, subjected to Spacey’s aggressive advances. A cascade of multiple accounts of harassment and assault involving Spacey resulted in his swift removal from his hit Netflix series and replacement in a film production by veteran actor Christopher Plummer.

    In the Spacey matter, it was equally offensive to many that in his released statement on the matter of sexual impropriety involving a minor, he finally came out as a gay man. The subject of Spacey’s sexuality has long been speculative. Coming out as gay amidst charges of sexual misconduct against a minor incited a twitter outrage initially led by out actor Zachary Quinto, Mr. Spock of the new Star Trek movies franchise. The reckoning against Spacey’s shameful implication that being gay was summarily congruent with his statutory offenses involving a minor—the cruelest stereotype of homosexuals as being predatory pedophiles—was immediate and cut deep.

    Being gay has zero to do with causation of abuse of children or minors. No responsible adult, gay or straight, would nor should contest that any manner of sexual conduct towards a child or minor is acceptable. It is reprehensible and unlawful for what should be very obvious reasons.

    Still, the realities of straight men and LGBT people as subjects of sexual harassment and assault should not be further overcast by this latest of unsettling developments. According to the Centers for Disease Control, lesbian, gay and bisexual people are subject to sexual violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexuals. Other sources indicate that approximately half of transgender people and bisexual women will eventually experience sexual violence their lives.

    For LGBT students, various on campus surveys across the country indicate that LGBT students are twice as likely to experience some form of sexual harassment or assault, further highlighting the case for making Title IX protections and response to on campus assaults a priority.

    In the workplace, while several gains have been made to create more LGBT inclusive environments, sexual harassment remains a concern. Throughout much less progressive times, sexual harassment against LGBT people was often used or implicated in threats of outing individuals. This type of threat was not only known to be directed from straight people, but it also occurred among and between ourselves. The stigma, shame and all but guaranteed social ostracism were potent and terrifying forces, effectively working to further marginalize, criminalize, and confine us to a dark, shadowy closet. One would hope that those times of enduring harassment for fear of being outed are long over, but as the national discourse on sexual misconduct evolves, the similar and unique impacts on LGBT people are being further and more seriously explored.

    The LGBT movement for the liberation of all healthy sexuality in an expansive spectrum should be celebrated as breaking down barriers that impede our full experience as human beings. It should not be misconstrued as an invitation to hyper sexualize our experiences to the point where boundaries against abuse, harassment, or assault are considered non-existent or dissolvable. Standing against such violations is core to our long-fought cause that all persons be treated with dignity and respect—no matter their gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

    Andrea Shorter is President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights, and marriage equality. A co-founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.