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Woman leaning on another person for support.Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash
April was Sexual Assault Awareness month, and most of the time the narrative about assault gets lost in the heteronormative world. Unless we have experienced it first-hand, the images that come to mind are often stolen from the news and they are mostly man-assaults-woman kind of images. But a huge part of the LGBTQ+ community has experienced sexual assault of some form and is incredibly underrepresented. A 2020 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law demonstrates, in fact, that LGBTQ+ people are nearly four times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than non-LGBTQ+ people.
Sexual assault is, by definition, “any type of intentional physical conduct that the victim has not consented to”, and falls under criminal law, while sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, includes unwelcomed sexual advances and covers discrimination based on one’s gender and/or sexual orientation, and falls under civil law.
Sexual Violence and LGBTQ+ Communities
When a victim of sexual assault decides to come forward, it is never easy. Many fear not being believed, being pointed out as guilty, to not finding support; for LGBTQ+ people, it’s even harder as we face the risk to encounter homophobic or transphobic authorities and facing disbelief that sexual violence even affects the lives of LGBTQ+ people. But studies tend to highlight the contrary.
In a study dated 2006 called “Sexual harassment between same-sex peers: Intersection of mental health, homophobia and sexual violence in schools” it was found that lesbians and gays are most likely to suffer sexual violence as a hate crime than other minorities. For transgender people, the numbers are very high: in a study of 6.436 individuals who identified as transgender and gender-non-conforming, 51% had experienced sexual assault in school, and 6% at work; the rates were higher among people of color, which highlights the intersection between transphobia and racism. In another research, it was found that 47% of transgender people are victims of sexual assault in their lifetime, as well as 1 in 8 lesbian women, 1 in 5 bisexual women, 40% of gay men, and 47% of bisexual men.
What seems to be lacking, understandably, are the reports of these attacks. In fact, raped lesbian or bisexual women seem to come forward 11-53% of the time, while the percentage of raped gay or bisexual men coming forward is 11-45%. This is commonly due to the possibility of not being believed, but also the possible fear of coming out to the authorities.
Sexual Assault Facts
Your body belongs to you
Surviving sexual assault takes a lot of strength. In fact,
- sexual assault survivors are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than people who have not been abused
- 40% of survivors contract a sexually transmitted disease during the abuse
- 42% of raped women expect to be raped again at some point in their life
- 4 out of 5 victims develop some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder. These mental health consequences include impaired memory and concentration, difficulty in relating to others, difficulty in engaging in a relationship, anger, rage, detachment, nightmares, apathy, self-harm, suicidal behavior, sleep disturbance, and drug and alcohol abuse.
- In cisgender men, the consequences of sexual assault can include the contraction of STDs (including HIV), infertility, sexual dysfunctions, abscesses of the rectum etc.
- In the LGBTQ+ community, we are 6 times more likely to experience violence from someone who is well known to us, and about 2.5 times more likely to experience it from a stranger, compared to non-LGBTQ+ people.
What to Do If You Are Sexually Assaulted
If you are attacked and want to report the crime to the authorities, do it as soon as possible, without taking a shower or changing your clothes, in order for the medical personnel to gather physical evidence of the assault.
Remember that everyone deals with sexual assault differently, especially when survivors. Do not feel pressured to come forward as a survivor: you should do so on your own time and terms, if you ever desire to. It is helpful, though, to talk about it and process the trauma with people you trust: be it a friend, a family member or a therapist. Dealing with the post-traumatic stress can be exhausting, which is why therapy is considered a valid method to get through it.
A lot of the time survivors feel the need to connect with people who underwent similar experiences, which is why support groups are a valid option. You can find them online or through therapists in your area if you prefer to meet in person.
If you or anyone you know is in a crisis, these resources should help:
Healthcare is a hot topic for many Americans. No matter your stance on it, most of us can agree that it’s not easy for everyone to access affordable medical care. If you’re in the LGBTQ+ community, you might face another obstacle – discrimination.
It can be hard to believe you would be discriminated against or even turned away based on your sexual identity, but it does happen like so many other injustices in this world. If you already have a healthcare provider you like and trust, you might be worried about coming out to them.
Will they treat you differently? Will your care be compromised?
Let’s cover some of the common barriers people within the community can face in the healthcare industry, why your doctor should know if you’re LGBTQ+, and what to look for in a provider that won’t discriminate.
What Challenges Do LGBTQ+ People Face in Healthcare?
There are a variety of underserved populations in healthcare, including minorities and those in traditionally underserved or poverty-stricken communities. Those in the LGBTQ+ population are often underserved because of discrimination. Think it doesn’t exist? Consider some of these staggering statistics from a 2017 national survey:
- 8% of respondents said a healthcare provider refused to see them because of their sexual orientation.
- 6% said a doctor refused to provide them with care.
- 9% said a healthcare provider used abusive or harsh language while treating them.
- 7% said they received unwanted physical contact from their healthcare provider.
It should come as no surprise, then, that fewer LGBTQ+ are getting the healthcare they deserve. These statistics are more than numbers. They are people. They are stories. If someone you know had a negative experience with their doctor and told you about it, you’d be less likely to go. Maybe you even had a bad experience yourself, and have never trusted the medical industry again.
Several things need to be done to serve the LGBTQ+ community better, including:
- Federal initiatives
- Smart devices that make it easier to access public health care
- Education on inclusivity within the medical field
Unfortunately, it will take time for this kind of reform and restructuring to happen within the healthcare industry. In the meantime, what can you do to get the care you deserve, whether it's from your current doctor or someone new?
Why You Should Talk to Your Doctor
Building up a trusting relationship with a healthcare provider can take some time. Maybe you’ve been working with your doctor for years, and you trust their medical knowledge and like their personality.
However, maybe they don’t know your gender identity or sexual orientation. Maybe you’ve thought about telling them in the past but have been worried about discrimination.
While it’s always a risk, it’s important to come out to your doctor for medical purposes, if nothing else. Certain health issues affect higher proportions of the LGBTQ+ community, including:
- Mental health issues
- Sexual assault
HIV is still a problem among members of the community, too. According to a 2010 study by the CDC, 63% of new HIV infections impacted men who had sex with other men.From a mental health standpoint, telling your doctor can be both freeing and can get you the help you need. It’s not uncommon for those in the community to experience extra stress, anxiety, and depression due to discrimination and constant worry. Because LGBTQ+ people are also at a greater risk of sexual violence, finding the right mental health treatment for the aftermath is crucial. Medical attention is needed to document evidence and identify any injuries or long-term risks, as well as to set up a mental health treatment plan that will help you process what happened.
Finding the Right Healthcare Provider
Whether you’ve experienced discrimination from your doctor or you want a clean slate in a place that will give you the care you deserve, there are a few things to look for in an LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare environment.
- First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Shop around, and set up consultations with providers you’re interested in. Ask them about their experience with the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll get a lot of information from that answer, and can probably trust your “gut” with whether they’re comfortable or not.
- You should also do your research. Seek both online and offline resources for LGBTQ+-friendly physicians in your area. Read reviews, look for doctors who offer a safe and inclusive practice for everyone, and consider asking your friends about their personal experiences and where they go. Thankfully, despite the obstacles you might face in finding a doctor, it’s not impossible. Even if you live in a rural area or far away from a doctor who is willing to give you proper care, nowadays, it’s easier than ever to connect with the right provider.
- If you can’t find someone nearby, consider choosing telehealth services for your general well-being and for regular checkups. While they can’t cover everything, it can help to have a physician in your corner who you trust, even if they’re hundreds of miles away. Don’t let discrimination in the healthcare industry get you down. With a little bit of time, research, and doctor-shopping, you can find a provider who will give you care without judgment.
The weather is warming up, and that means it’s grilling time. It's time to invite friends over and fire up the grill. If you are new to grilling, it's best to start with the basics, and a charcoal grill is a perfect place to start.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started, it's important to learn about the type of charcoal grill you have. Ensure everything is in working order and familiarize yourself with the air vents on the grill because these help you control the heat. If you are looking to buy one, you will need to consider which size is best for your needs. We recommend buying one with an ash container for easy cleanup. Charcoal grills come in different shapes and sizes, and the price range starts at around $100 and can go up from there.
Once you have your grill set up, you will need a couple of things.
- Chimney starter (optional)
- Grilling tongs
- Pumice stone for cleaning the grill grate
- Heat resistant gloves
Choose Your Charcoal
Charcoal briquettes are the classic choicePhoto by Amin Hasani on Unsplash
Charcoal grills, of course, use charcoal as fuel, and there are two types of charcoal you can use. Charcoal briquettes are the most affordable option. You can find them in any supermarket in a big bag. They create consistent heat and burn for an extended time. While they are inexpensive, they don't add much smoky flavor and the slow burn creates a lot of ash.
Hardwood charcoal is the more expensive option, but worth it if you love the smoky taste of grilled food. This type of charcoal burns quickly and leaves little ash for easy clean-up. If you want the best of both worlds, you can use both charcoals together.
Before you get started, you will want to make sure you have enough charcoal. The amount of charcoal needed depends on how much you are planning to cook and for how long. A rough estimate is if you are cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken for a group, 4.5 to 5 pounds of charcoal is best. If you are cooking for 2-3 people, then 2.5 pounds of charcoal should be enough. And, if you are grilling a long-cooking cut of meat or using your grill as a smoker with lower heat but for an extended time then 2 pounds of charcoal is fine.
Light the Grill
Waiting for the grill to heat up is hard when you are hungry.Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
There are a few ways to get your grill fired up. The most traditional way is to arrange the charcoal in a small pile on the grill and spray some lighter fluid on the charcoal. Always read the instructions on the bottle for the exact amount of fluid to use. Using too much lighter fluid can affect the flavor of your food. Give the charcoal a minute to absorb the fluid, then light the charcoal with a utility lighter. Once the charcoal is lit, resist the temptation to add more lighter fluid, it's dangerous, and it will be difficult to control the flame.
If you prefer not to use lighter fluid, you can use a chimney starter. Chimney starters are available at any hardware store, and if you grill frequently, they are a great investment. Using a chimney starter is the fastest way to get your charcoal piping hot. Some starters have a place to add either newspaper or fire starter cubes. Follow the instructions, add the charcoal to the starter, and light from there. Once hot, pour onto the grill. Use heat-resistant gloves for safety.
For tech lovers, there is also an electric charcoal starter. Just place the charcoal on the grill and touch the electric starter to the charcoal until it lights.
Another option to light the charcoal is a strike-able fire starter. They are like a large match that you can place in the middle of the charcoal to get the coals going.
However, you get your charcoal started, you will need to wait for your grill to heat up before you start cooking. It can take around 15- 20 minutes to get hot enough to cook your food. Most charcoal grills have a built-in thermometer to help you know when it reaches grilling temperature which is anywhere between 350 to 450 F. While your grill is heating up, you can prepare the grill grate.
Prepare the Grill Grate
Oil up the grill grate to keep juices meats from sticking.Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash
You should always start with a clean grill. While you don't need to deep clean the entire grill after each use, you should clean the grill grate before and after each use. Use a pumice stone made for grills to clean your grill grates. There are wire brushes on the market for this, too, but there have been cases of metal bristles breaking off and getting stuck on the grill and then sticking to food, so stick with a pumice cleaner.
Once the grate is clean, brush some oil on the grate to keep food from sticking. Save your olive oil for your salad. Instead, use a high heat oil like vegetable or canola.
Arrange Coals for Effective Cooking
Sear some steaks for the perfect grill marks.Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash
Once the charcoal has heated up, you can use your grilling tongs to arrange the coals. Charcoal placement is key to coking with charcoal. As a general rule, you will want to have two cooking areas on your grill—one for direct heat to sear and one for indirect heat for foods that require longer cooking time. Searing is good for steaks, while indirect heat is better for meat on the bone and roasts.
Another option is to use grilling planks on the charcoal grill. Grilling planks are pieces of wood like cedar or alder that you can cook food on rather than placing the food straight on the grill. Soaking the planks in water for an hour prior to grilling ensures they won't burn. Then, place meats, fish, or vegetables on the plank for a smoky dish.
Cleaning Up the Grill After Use
Properly caring for a charcoal grill extends its life.Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash
When your last burger has been flipped, and it's time to turn off the grill, just close the vents and put the lid on the grill. Without air to fuel the fire, it will gradually burn out. This can take up to 48 hours for it to completely cool and be safe enough to remove the coal and ashes.
If you are in a hurry you can use your tongs and pull out each charcoal brisket and place it in a metal bucket filled with water. Scoop the hot ash into a metal container to let it cool. Never pour water onto a charcoal grill as it can damage the grill and leave a sludge that you will have to clean later. Plus, water directly on hot coals creates dangerous steam that can burn anyone near the grill.
When your charcoal grill is cooled and cleaned, it's ready to be stored for next time. While charcoal grills are sturdy and can be left outside, if you live in a colder climate you will want to ensure it is protected from the elements to extend the life of the grill.
Tips and Tricks for Charcoal Grills
- Resist the temptation to flip your food too much
- Control the heat by using the vents and lid
- Keep the heat around 350° F for most foods or 450° F for searing
- Add a handful of wood chips like hickory or mesquite to the coals for more flavor
Traveling and camping in an RV has many advantages and essentially allows you to have a home away from home, from county campgrounds to the remotest of locations. But those with RVs know that preparing for a trip can be quite stressful. There are countless items to remember to pack. That is why we have put together the perfect list of RVing essentials. Check out this list before your next adventure to make sure nothing gets left behind.
RV Specific Items
What you need for the RVPhoto by Kojiro Inui on Unsplash
- Roadside emergency kit
- Sewer kit
- Extra motor oil and transmission fluids
- Surge protector
- Electrical adapters
- Water pressure regulator
- Drinking water hose
- Leveling blocks
- Tire pressure gauge
- Extension cords
- Wheel chocks
- Duct tape
- Battery jumper cables
- Fire extinguisher
- RV documents (registration, insurance, etc.)
Kitchen and Food
What to cook while RVingPhoto by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash
- Potable water
- Water bottles
- Food storage containers
- Food and beverages
- Cooler and extra ice
- Plates, cups, bowls
- Cooking utensils
- Eating utensils
- Paper Towels
- Dish soap
- Sponge or scrubber
- Grill for outdoor cooking (optional)
- Can and bottle opener
- Pots and pans
- Coffee pot and/or tea kettle
What blankets to bring while RVingPhoto by Jordan Bigelow on Unsplash
- Sheets, blankets, and comforters
- Pillows and pillow cases
- Extra cots or air mattresses as needed
- Air pump if needed
Toiletries for the RV
Toiletry essentials for RVingPhoto by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
- Soap (face and body)
- Hand soap
- Hand sanitizer
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Toilet paper
- First aid kit
- Tampons/sanitary products
- Bath towels
- Shoes to shower in (if using campground facilities)
- Solar shower (If RV doesn't have a shower/bath)
- Bug spray
Personal Items Needed While RVing
Taking your personal items on your RV adventurePhoto by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash
- Phone and phone charger
- Laptop or tablet and charger
- Wallet with ID and credit/debit cards
- Campsite reservation information
- Eyeglasses and sunglasses
Clothing and Footwear Needed for RVing
What clothes do you need when you go RVing?Photo by Ali Kazal on Unsplash
- Moisture-wicking shirts
- Moisture-wicking pants
- Long sleeve shirt
- Down or fleece jacket
- Rain jacket
- Rain pants
- Hiking boots or sneakers
- Sandals or flip flops
- Winter/snow gear depending on the season
What else will we need for Rving?Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash
- Extra batteries
- Cleaning supplies
- Portable charging bank or solar charger
- Firewood and fire starter (If fires are permitted at your campsite)
- Books and/or games
- Dog gear if bringing your four-legged pals
- Dry bags or plastic bins to store items
- Backpack or hiking pack
- Hiking, fishing, kayaking, or other gear for activities
- Outdoor rug
- Patio furniture (chairs, tables, etc.)
- Pop-up tent (if RV doesn't have an awning)
Enjoy Your Trip
You've gone through your checklist and have inspected your RV to make sure everything is up to standard and in working order. Now it's time to decide where you are going to set up camp and hit the road! There are many more logistics to deal with when RV camping compared to car camping, but with the right preliminary preparation, you can relax knowing everything is in place for the perfect RVing experience.