CT victims attacked because of sexual orientation react to Jussie Smollett

New Haven

For people here in Connecticut who are part of the LGBTQ-plus community and who have been victims of violence because of it, the whole ordeal with actor Jussie Smollett has them concerned.

“Anytime any crime is falsely reported, it creates doubt for all future reports and certainly silences people even more than they’re already silenced,” said Patrick Dunn, Executive Director of the New Haven Pride Center. “I’ve personally been a victim of violence multiple times in my life, unfortunately. I’m one of the lucky ones who wasn’t necessarily hospitalized.”

Related: Prosecutor: Actor gave detailed instructions for fake attack

Dunn and Iv Staklo, who identifies as transgender, fear this incident could create more distrust between actual victims of violence and the people they tell their stories to — like the police.

Staklo says before this, it was hard enough for victims of violence in the LGBTQ-plus community to come forward.

“I’ve been in situations where I’ve been attacked or threatened with assaults,” said Staklo. “I know what it’s like from experience to not feel safe reporting something.”

They say even if what Chicago police say is true — that Smollett made up the attack that was allegedly filled with homophobic, racist and politically-hateful language — it doesn’t negate the fact that less famous people are often physically attacked because of their sexual orientation. Staklo and Dunn hope more people start talking about that.

Related: Police: ‘Empire’ actor faked attack to ‘promote his career’

“The more we hear those stories, the more we share those stories, the more we are hopefully able to bring attention to this epidemic,” said Staklo.

“If that happened you would see a lot of change,” said Dunn.

According to the latest statistics from the FBI, hate crime incidents by sexual orientation are up 5%. More than 2,000 incidents were reported in 2017. Hate crimes against African-Americans are up 16%. More than 1,100 of those incidents were reported that same year.

Dunn helps to run the New Haven Pride Center and Staklo runs a hotline aimed at helping transgender people deal with any issues they may have. 

“It feels good to be there for people when they need it,” said Staklo.

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