The Dark Side of LGBTQ+ Relationships
Timothy McLemore, founder of Essential Haus, author, “Love Is Not Abuse”
Timothy McLemore, LGBTQ+ relationship champion and author of, “Love Is Not Abuse” is on a mission to create a safe haven and dedicated support system for the forgotten members of the LGBTQ+ community. While Pride Month in June is dedicated to the uplifting and celebrating LGBTQ+ voices, culture and rights, McLemore says there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, especially when it comes to the issues of homelessness and domestic violence. His book, “Love Is Not Abuse,” releasing in late June, is his own personal account of feeling trapped in relationship abuse cycles and his triumph in breaking away from emotional and physical harm. Through his book McLemore aims to provide a roadmap of hope to fellow LGBTQ+ individuals looking for a way out of controlling and abusive relationships. For the past decade McLemore has built an audience around his Gays With Stories Instagram page that has upwards of 125,000 followers and features narratives of loving gay relationships. He now plans to confront the darker side of gay relationships in his storytelling to shine a light on how to stop cycles of abuse that plagues the LGBTQ+ community more often, than in heterosexual relationships through his newly formed 501c3 non-profit organization, Essential Haus, a LGBTQ+ domestic violence and homelessness shelter that provides victims the essentials they need to start a new life, whether that is job placement, housing assistance or educational resources.
McLemore’s goal is to help victims of domestic violence get a new start, not only because leaving abusive relationships is so tough with all the emotional aspects, but also because the financial aspects are a huge barrier. McLemore says they are just in the beginning phases of establishing the house, which will be located in Miami, Florida, and available to anyone in the country, but those in need of support can connect now to be part of their “virtual house” through their Essential Haus Facebook and Essential Haus Instagram pages where they will share resources and have virtual events to support LGBTQ+ victims of domestic violence. McLemore shared with us some warning signs and tips on how to navigate out of a physical or emotionally abusive relationship:
Who in the LGBTQ+ community is most at risk for domestic violence?
I feel like everyone in the LGBTQ+ community is at risk because there’s not many resources available for us when it comes to domestic violence. And while, certainly anyone can be at risk for domestic violence, there are specific groups of LGBTQ+ people who are at the highest risk for intimate partner violence, such as Trans, Black, Bisexual and individuals who do not have financial resources.
Is domestic violence a bigger issue in LGBTQ+ or heterosexual relationships?
The statistics certainly show that domestic violence is more frequent and complicated in LGBTQ+ relationships. For example, partner violence within LGBTQ+ relationships occurs as often, if not more often, than in heterosexual relationships. I also think that a lot of us in the gay community are “hopeful romantics” – things tend to move very quickly. I always say that one year in a gay relationship is like five years in a heterosexual one. While this can be exciting, it can also be a major red flag.
If someone is in an abusive relationship, what are some initial steps they can take to get out of that relationship?
- First, if you see something, say something. And this goes for everyone. If you notice your friend is not acting like him or herself, call it out, because the more someone hears that the relationship does not look normal, the quicker they will start to question the abusive behaviors. At the same time you are establishing yourself as a resource for them when they are ready to get out.
- If you are the person in the abusive relationship, start by simply establishing other friendships outside your abusive relationship. Having friends to talk to will help you hear for yourself how bad the abuse is and this is the starting point for getting out. An abusive partner will try to isolate you and keep you from having other, outside friendships that could influence your perception on the relationship. This, of course, is another major red flag.
- Seek out resources. Although it can be hard to find, try to find resources specifically in the LGBTQ+ community. I personally had difficulty finding resources when I was trying to get out of my abusive relationship, which is why I started a nonprofit called Essential Haus where we will provide a safe place and resources for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community who have been affected by domestic violence and homelessness.
- Do not hesitate to contact your local authorities and even seek a protective order if the abuse gets out of hand. Many people in abusive relationships hesitate to do this because many times they truly love their partner and do not want to get him or her in trouble, but not having the abuse documented on an official police record will negatively affect your case later when you do decide to leave. Legally proving abuse can be very difficult without showing official documentation that it happened and that’s where local authorities can be very helpful. It’s also important for your own safety.
Once you get out of an abusive relationship, how do you stay out?
Do your best to cut all ties. Block the person on all your devices so you are not tempted to be pulled back in. If possible, change your physical location. Start fresh somewhere new. Then learn to love yourself. Don’t jump right into another relationship. Take the time to learn about yourself, and discover what you like and don’t like. This will make you stronger and more independent before you step into another relationship. It’s important to know yourself fully and love yourself fully to avoid repeating the relationship abuse cycle.
The LGBTQ+ community is often met with ineffective and victimizing legal responses to domestic violence. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV):
- 45% of victims do not report the violence they experience to police because they believe it will not help them.
- Members of the LGBTQ+ community may be denied assistance and domestic violence services as a result of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.
- Fewer than 5% of LGBTQ+ domestic violence victims ever seek protective orders from the court.
- 11% of reported LGBTQ+ intimate violence cases involved the use of a weapon.
- Only 26% of men who experienced near-lethal partner violence called the police.
- 8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women are raped, the recipient of physical violence, and/or stalked by a partner at some point; this is true of only 35% of heterosexual women.
For more tips and to be part of the Essential Haus community, or for details on his book, “Love Is Not Abuse,” connect with him directly on Instagram @essentiallytim or through his Essential Haus Facebook and Essential Haus Instagram pages.
Timothy McLemore is the founder of Essential Haus, a non-profit organization in Miami, Florida, that provides a safe place for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community who have been affected by domestic violence and homelessness. His new book, “Love Is Not Abuse,” speaks about his own personal experiences with domestic abuse in a gay relationship and provides resources and hope for others who find themselves trapped in similar relationships. McLemore is a community organizer, social media influencer and creator of “Gays with Stories,” a popular Instagram page that shares the positive stories of gay men around the world. His mission is to bring awareness to LGBTQ+ relationship issues, and provide a safe space for anyone living a truth not widely accepted by mainstream society. His dedication to the LGBTQ+ community is inspired by his own struggles of growing up biracial and gay. His vision for future generations is to have a better experience, and that fuels his motivation to inspire self-acceptance and self-expression for all.