#MeTooGay started trending in France after huge numbers of queer men came forward to share their experiences of sexual violence on Twitter.
Some gay men simply shared the age they were when they were first sexually assaulted along with the hashtag, while others told heartbreaking stories of being raped by friends, colleagues and complete strangers.
“He was my first time,” one person simply said, alongside the hashtag.
“I was in MY prime,” one Twitter user wrote. revealing that they were sexually assaulted on three separate occasions throughout their formative years: “I was 16 then 18 then 20.
“And every time I thought it was my fault and I REFUSE to stay silent for another 21 years.”
One person opened up about their experience of sexual abuse at the hands of a colleague, revealing the pain and suffering they endured in the aftermath, when they had to see him at work every day.
Another tweeted: “I was 17. He forced me to take him into my home. He made me do things. When I tried to fight back, it turned him on. Even when I managed to kick him out I felt dirty, tainted.”
One person simply wrote: “I was 15. I said no.”
In one particularly shocking story, a person shared: “I forced myself to blackout so I wouldn’t remember what happened. When I cam to, he was gone and I was bleeding. Couldn’t tell a soul – until today.”
The deluge of tweets has led to an outpouring of support from the wider LGBT+ community in France, with many praising the men for coming forward and sharing their stories of sexual violence.
#MeTooGay is currently trending in France. LGBTQ+ victims of sexual assault are sharing their stories. It's heartbreaking. Unfortunately, it does not seem that tackling sexual violences & sexual harassment are a priority for the Government. Love & support to the victims💜.
— Rim-Sarah Alouane (@RimSarah) January 22, 2021
— Stéphane Gaillard (@GaillardStphan1) January 22, 2021
you are so brave and courageous. you are changing history by sharing your stories. thank you. #MeTooGay
— May leert Nederlands (@_xMarion) January 22, 2021
Flora Bolter, co-director of LGBT+ rights group l’Observatoire LGBT+ de la Fondation Jean Jaurés, told FRANCE 24 that queer people often stay silent about their experiences of sexual violence because they fear it could lead to backlash against the wider community.
“We’re [already] experiencing strong discrimination because people have this shortcut of stereotyping, and linking LGBT persons to sexual predators,” she said.
“So it’s always been very difficult to broach and address the question of sexual violence within the LGBT+ community because there has been this fear of speaking out and [thereby] fuelling homophobia.”
Statistics suggest that LGBT+ people are at greater risk of sexual assault than their straight and cisgender counterparts.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, various factors such as poverty, stigma and marginalisation can put queer people at a higher risk of facing sexual abuse.
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