British series “EastEnders” brings lesbian domestic violence out of the closet

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Domestic violence is a dirty little secret we gays prefer to keep in the closet. We pretend this is a non-issue in our community; its isolated occurrences are not of concern because we’re following the rules of picking on someone our own size–on account of the fact that we share similar genitalia and all. We preach that a man should never lay a hand on a woman, especially within the context of a loving relationship, and we pat ourselves on the back for staunchly defending our heterosexual sisters. But, we conveniently forget about the often silent screams in our own gayborhood.

Thanks to the long running British soap EastEnders, we’re watching the abuse we’ve tried so hard to ignore be dragged out of the closet and onto our television screens. Lesbian couple Tina (Luisa Bradshaw-White) and Tosh’s (Rebecca Scroggs) relationship has shown viewers the frightening similarities between the domestic violence we’re accustomed to seeing in straight relationships and that of a relationship with two women. From the aggressive behavior leading up to the first violent offense, to the elaborate apologies laced with flowers, accusations of provocation, and everything in between. In watching Tina and Tosh struggle through their dysfunction, viewers quickly forget that the violence is from one woman to another and begin to simply see two people–victim and abuser.

Tosh (on left) and TinaEastEndersTina

A man is not a prerequisite to a domestic abuse scenario. EastEnders confronts this outdated assumption, using two women in a romantic relationship with one another. Too often seeing two women in a physical altercation is reduced to a cat fight; it’s something we laugh at and find entertaining. Thanks to EastEnders this stereotype is dismantled; the presentation of the abuse is taken seriously by the viewer. It is clear that the victim is experiencing both physical and emotional pain at the hands of her partner, which makes us think twice about our preconceived notions on same sex domestic abuse.

EastEndersTosh

It is clear that BBC has done their homework in the way of research on domestic abuse in gay relationships. The network has worked closely with Broken Rainbow UKan organization that raises awareness and offers support surrounding domestic violence in our community. A key mistake television networks often make when bringing such a delicate scenario into a storyline is failing to consult with individuals and organizations that have knowledge and experience on the issue. I find it refreshing that BBC took the time to reach out to Broken Rainbow to ensure that the on screen representation of domestic violence in gay relationships was presented in an accurate and appropriate manner.

EastEndersTinaTosh

Let’s take a cue from EastEnders and push same sex domestic abuse out of the closet. Let this soap opera storyline be a springboard to a dialogue on this issue.

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