Video: Fighting and Winning for LGBT Victims of Sex Trafficking. Meet Favio.
In the summer of 2015, a visibly shaken young man named Favio Freyre visited one of LeGaL’s free, drop-in legal clinics, held at the NYC LGBT Center. Favio had questions about divorce papers with which he had recently been served, as well as about their potential consequences for his immigration status.
During the course of the consultation with LeGaL’s Legal Director, Brett Figlewski, it soon became clear that there was a long history of abuse and sexual exploitation characteristic of gay male victims of trafficking.
Brett, who created a legal clinic for largely homeless LGBTQ youth, and has experience working with members of the LGBT community who are at high risk for commercial sexual exploitation. According to Brett:
The trafficking of gay men exhibits dynamics which can be dis nc ve from those of female victims. First and foremost, the trafficking of gay men tends to be dyadic in nature. Whereas female victims often form one corner of a trafficking triad including the victim, the purchaser (or “john”), and the trafficker (or “pimp”), gay male victims very often do not operate under the control of an individual pimp but rather are exploited by the purchaser.
The exploitation of a typically young man’s position of vulnerability in terms of age, poverty, housing instability, lack of immigration status or language ability, or ethnicity and race renders the purchaser to be simultaneously a trafficker. In addition to these somewhat obvious markers of their vic ms’ vulnerability, traffickers frequently take advantage of young gay males’ emotional vulnerabilities, which often include the need for a parental figure or consistent caregiver and the need to feel desired and valuable.
In Favio’s case, this situation was unmistakable.
According to Brett:
Favio recounted his family’s virulent homophobia but also the severe physical and emotional violence to which he had been subjected as a child by both parents. Rather than come out as a gay man in Argentina, Favio fled to the United States at his first opportunity, even though it meant giving up all social supports and forgoing his family’s Financial support. Soon Financially destitute and only just coming to grips with his sexual identity, Favio fell prey to commercial sexual exploitation.
LeGaL represented Favio and succeeded in obtaining a T-Visa, which are granted to trafficking victims.