Imagine being harassed, but denied the services necessary to help protect yourself from such harassment. This happened to Jim and Bob when they sought help from their Homeowner’s Association (HOA) after being harassed for being gay1.
Jim and Bob aren’t that different from other couples—they met, fell in love, and looked forward to their lives together.
The couple lived in an active adult community for older/elderly citizens in Arizona. Bob had recently suffered a stroke and a doctor told them that working on exercises in the pool could help speed up Bob’s rehabilitation.
It’s hard to even relate the humiliation and fear we felt that day.
Following the doctor’s orders, they went to the pool, and Jim helped Bob do his exercises, like any loving partner would. He helped Bob remove his brace and cane. He put his arm around him to ensure he wouldn’t slip as they got into the pool. But then, the couple was startled when Bob was intentionally knocked off balance by a woman also swimming in the pool. Things only escalated from there. Soon, a crowd gathered. People were yelling that they didn’t belong there, simply because they showed the same care and concern any partner would show for the person they loved.
“It’s hard to even relate the humiliation and fear we felt that day,” Jim wrote later. “The look of pain and agony on Bob’s face as we drove home still haunts me, and I worried that the trauma would affect his recovery.”
They tried to seek the help of the staff working at their community, but they refused to help find the people who harassed the couple. When Jim and Bob sought action from the HOA, it took months to get any movement on their complaint. And when they were finally able to meet with the HOA, the Association made it clear that they would not force the staff of the community to look into the matter. It became evident that the couple was being sent a message that they were not welcome or wanted. Jim reflected, “When this first happened, I was in a state of shock about it. But since then, I’ve realized that there is a real pattern here.”
After an emotionally exhausting fight, they were no closer to a resolution, and feeling unsafe in their own home was taking a toll on them both. They felt their only real option was to move. This put a huge financial burden on them, at a time when they should have been focusing on Bob’s recovery and rehabilitation.
Arizona is one of 31 states in the U.S. that doesn’t protect LGBT2 people from discrimination. That means couples like Jim and Bob can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, or denied services like medical treatment.
Everyone has the right to marry. Not everyone has basic rights.
Arizona has passed 5 laws that actively harm LGBT people.Learn more
Can be fired or denied a promotion*
Can be evicted from their homes or denied housing*
Can be denied service at public establishments, denied medical treatment, or even kicked out of restaurants or businesses*
Arizona’s total population
Total LGBT population
Of LGBT population raising children