The Harvey Weinstein allegations have brought to light how many women in Hollywood deal with sexual abuse — but it's not only women facing this problem. Many LGBTQ actors have also been targets of sexual harassment and assault, and several spoke out about it during the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)'s Respect Awards on Friday, Variety reports.
"Early on when I was a little twink there were people who made suggestions about how they could help me," said My So-Called Life's Wilson Cruz. "I did not take them up on it, but it was uncomfortable. I was in my 20s, and I thought: ‘Is this what one does?’ And also: ‘Am I going to ruin my career by not doing it?’ In the end, I politely said no and kept on my way."
This kind of behavior was normalized, he explained, so he figured he needed to just shrug it off. "I was trying to maneuver my way through Hollywood as an openly gay actor and there weren’t many examples for me at the time," he said.
Teen Wolf and The Leftovers' Charlie Carver agreed: "There are many other people who have experienced way worse in terms of harassment, but I can identify and empathize with anybody who has gone through it," he said at the event. "I’m not a stranger to it. This will hopefully open up a discussion about men and power dynamics in general — maybe it has to do with exerting masculinity."
LGBTQ people in general may be especially vulnerable to sexual harassment and assault, according to the Human Rights Campaign. For example, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that nearly twice as many gay men than straight men — and even more bisexual men — had experienced "sexual violence other than rape."
It's important for celebrities to speak out about this issue to bring awareness to the many ways sexual abuse can manifest. As the sheer variety of stories that have come out recently prove, it can happen to anyone.