Portland has become a well known destination for many queer folk. In turn, this has led to a blossoming community. Unfortunately, the LGBTQIA+ community remains at risk for violence, houselessness, and drug abuse. Moreover, these threats remain promininet for people within the LGBTQIA+ community, and the risk remains higher for queer people of color and transgender individuals. This community needs the assistance of the larger community to offer assistance and protective measures. As a secuirty professional with Echelon Protective Services, I have dedicated my life to educative efforts to increase awareness about the security struggles of queer peoples.
Working on the streets of the downtown Portland community, I can attest that the mentioned security risks exist for the LGBTQIA+ community. On a daily basis, I encounter people in my community who are drug-addicted and suffer from higher occurrences of mental illness, including depression disorders and suicidal ideation.
According to some medical studies, the LGBTQIA+ community are 3-times more likely to commit suicide compared to straight youth/adults. This elevated risk to mental health crisis leaves the LGBTQIA+ community vulnerable, and more likely to be houseless. Likewise, individual members of the LGBTQIA+ community are 7-times more likely to be victims of a crime as compared to heterosexual youth/adults. Such disparities require the larger Portland community to come alongside LGBTQIA+ community members as a bond of protection.
As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I am aware that wearing a uniform in the current climate can sometimes act as a barrier to building relationships within my own community. Moreover, working with Portland’s houseless population, I understand the anger and frustration that some people on the streets face every day. Taking into consideration these circumstances, I believe that private security can act as an ally, coming to aid many in the LBGTQIA+ community.
As a private security guard with Echelon Protective Services, I have been able to assist my community by helping them transition into shelters, drug addiction programs and into mental health service programs. Moreover, as Echelon’s Director of Community Engagement, I have worked with area non-profits in order to provide Portland’s houseless community members with necessary supplies, such as food, tents, sleeping bags, etc.Overall, it is my estimation that private security has a role to play in assisting and protecting the LGBTQIA+ community.