Social suffering as structural and symbolic violence
Much of Staffan Hildebrand’s archive relates to the gay male population, specifically in developing countries, and highlights the vulnerability of gay people living with HIV/AIDS or exposed to a high risk of virus transmission because of the structural, interpersonal, and symbolic violence they face. In this chapter we will interpret LGBT experiences as evidence of structural, interpersonal, and symbolic violence. Structural violence, especially, is exerted indirectly and systematically by everyone who belongs to a specific social order. When we deal with structural violence we must take into account all the dimensions in which oppression can occur. In particular, non-white LGBT groups in developed countries or LGBT minorities in developing countries are at high risk of exposure to violence within their own ethnic group and to vulnerability compared to the wider society; they face both rejection from their families and group because their sexual orientation or gender identity and discrimination from the white gay communities. Those are risk factors that contribute with other structural conditions – such as poverty, racism, social exclusion, discrimination, and criminalization – to have a big impact on HIV risk behavior and other problems such as anger, low esteem, depression, drugs, and substance abuse.