SANTA MARIA, Calif. - California has been a leader for gay rights for many years, so it might be surprising to hear the hate crime statistics released by the state's Attorney General on Monday.
"It's very surprising to see in this day and age that we still have hate going on in our community. You know being a part of the GALA (Gay and Lesbian Alliance) community, the gay community and being a gay man, there are days when I kinda look over my back late at night and I have to make sure that I'm safe, my partner's safe and my family is safe," GALA president Ryan Duclos tells us.
According to this new report, more than140 hate crimes against gay men were reported in the state of California in 2016. Hate crimes with a sexual orientation bias were the second most common type of hate crime in 2016.
Duclos says there's been a rise in people being verbal about their hate since the recent election, telling us: "There's been a big changeover in administration with the country and people are finding their voice more to speak out in a way of hate."
So far in San Luis Obispo this year, there have been two hate crimes that they know of - one was when the mayor's pride flag was burned last month. Duclos says he's happy that the city's police force has an LGBT liaison to help them feel more comfortable when reporting these crimes.
"She's a direct representative of us - she's amazing - she's there to be our voice. What I can encourage people in the gay community to do is if you are a victim of a hate crime, or if you feel as if someone had some hate towards you - please contact your police," Duclos says.
He adds his organization GALA can help report crimes to police as well.
GALA will be hosting a pride parade this weekend to speak out against hate and rally for the gay community. Click here for more information.
The report also outlines hate crimes against minorities and those of the Jewish faith, click here for the full report.