On Friday, Oct. 5, Rainbow in the Clouds hosted a fundraiser for CARDV (Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence) in Corvallis. They took over Downward Dog with a spirited drag show and costume contest deemed, “Hall O’ Queens.” Sometime after the evening began, two members of the LGBTQIA+ community were taken to the hospital.
Four minutes after winners of the costume contest were posted, at approximately 12:06 a.m., RITC posted the following: “Y’all please be careful tonight to KEEP YOUR DRINK IN VIEW! We have some folks hospitalized due to drugging of drinks. Stay vigilant! If you see something say something.”
“During our event on Friday, Oct. 5, it came to our attention that at least two peoples’ drinks were drugged and two people were hospitalized due to this,” said Dharma Mirza.
Mirza, an LBCC alumna, is an active and key organizer for RITC. RITC hosts a fundraiser/dance party every month, that supports LBGTQIA+ equal rights and opportunities.
Mirza also founded Haus of Dharma in 2014, a local drag entertainment and event planning group and drag family based in Linn and Benton counties.
When describing the scenario that happened that evening, Mirza stated, “Our immediate response was to share the information amongst the organizers of the event and coordinate with bar staff to ensure they were aware of the incident as well.”
But the organizers sense of urgency didn’t dissolve over the course of one night. The next morning Mirza found herself among those within the LBGTQIA+ community vocalizing the extent of damage and also, the need for support.
“We did not have a set protocol for how to respond,” said Mirza.
However, within a day, several communities were able to pull together to form a support system with organizers from RITC, OSU Pride Center, and OSU Diversity and Cultural Engagement. OSU Pride Center was open from 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturday and encouraged everyone to come by, regardless if they were a student.
RITC held a community event the same evening with representatives from Counseling and Psychological Services, and campus sexual assault services. RITC offered food, drinks, support and also offered to pay for any medical services for victims.
None of the victims filed police reports that evening.
“As with any situation involving assault or sexual predation it is important to allow the consent of survivors in seeking police attention/reporting. This is particularly vital for marginalized populations like LGBTQ+ individuals who may have trouble getting appropriate assistance from police and understanding the traumatic histories of marginalized folks with police,” said Mirza.
According to RAINN, (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), spiking drinks and alcohol related sexual assault is the number one substance for assailants of sexual assault and rape. In a survey of 246 people created by alcohol.com, 65 percent of women and 58 percent of men do not feel confident that assailants will be held accountable by the law.
Data regarding spiked drinks is tough to gather, due to how hard it is to detect drugs commonly used in sexual assault. Information is even harder to gage when applying demographic and/or unreported instances.
Given the current political climate surrounding confirmation of Brett Kavanagh into the Supreme Court this event was especially traumatic.
“This tragedy has highlighted predatory rape culture and how pervasive it is in our community even in safe spaces, even at a fundraiser for sexual assault survivors,” said Mirza.
“Resilience means being responsive, empathetic to victims/survivors and being vigilant in our security. It also means being transparent about events and letting folks know what has occurred, how folks can get support and creating spaces for healing and grieving. The most powerful non-violent response is solidarity, taking back our spaces and continuing to organize, express ourselves and be in community to show predators that we will not be swayed or deterred [when] faced of trauma and tragedy.”
Mirza described how support is sustainable within her community and could be for others, “Be realistic, provide support resources not just illuminating traumatic events and work with community agencies to create response protocols proactively, not just when incidents occur.”
Despite the hospitalizations, RITC was able to raise $800 for CARDV. The next day RITC posted, “…We shall remain organizing, we remain connected, we remain loving one another. We are not defined by our trauma but we are resilient. The LGBTQ+ community knows how to heal.”
Story and Photo by Angela Scott