Author - David Swift | Reading Time - 05 Min | Date - 07/02/2023
Bullying and shaming of gay people hurts us all. Even if we don't personally experience bullying or abuse, we probably know someone who does. Gay bullying may be extremely lethal, as evidenced by a spate of gay deaths in 2011. I'll list simply four: https://gaytest.io/
Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old from Greensburg, Indiana, hanged himself on September 9 from the rafters of his family's barn.
Seth Walsh, 13, hanged himself on September 19 in his yard from a tree in Tehachapi, California.
Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, leaped off the George Washington Bridge on September 22 in New York City.
On September 23, 13-year-old Houston, Texas, resident Asher Brown shot himself in the head.
According to data on gay bullying, LGBT teenagers are two- to three-times as likely to commit suicide than other youths and about 30% of all suicides have been linked to a gender identity crisis.2
None of these deaths had to occur, but they did because each of these people was sent the message that it was better to be dead than to be gay.
What is Gay Bullying, Gay Bashing?
Gay bullying and gay bashing is bullying or treating one poorly because they are gay (definition of gay) or because they are thought to be gay. The targets are primarily people who do not fit into gender stereotype roles whether they are, in fact, gay or not. Gay bullying statistics indicate that 9-out-of-10 gay youth have been subject to bullying and that, of those, almost half were physically harassed and a quarter report being physically assaulted.
Gay bullying or gay bashing may be:
Mocking, making jokes
Violent anti-gay images
Physical or sexual assault
Any individual minor incidence of gay bullying or gay bashing may be something that someone can deal with but the main problem with it is its pervasive and consistent nature to the point where it injures an individual's self-esteem and desire to live.
Adult Gay Bullying
And while we often think of children or teens when we think gay bullying, bullying occurs in adult situations, such as in the workplace, as well. Adult bullies are more likely to use verbal bullying than physical bullying but the result is the same: their attempt to humiliate and gain power over their target.
Stop Gay Bullying – How People Are Working to Stop Gay Bashing
Many organizations are dedicated to stop gay bashing and gay bullying and there are more and more initiatives locally, like in high schools, to stop gay bashing. Over 4000 Gay-Straight Alliances are now registered with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and initiatives such as "No Name-Calling Week" now exist to put the spotlight on all types of bullying and bashing.3
If you are being bullied, dealing with gay bashing can seem daunting, but there are many things you can do.
Tell a teacher or principal (in the workplace: the human resources department or a supervisor)
Get involved in gay supportive organizations
Surround yourself with supportive individuals
Consider seeing a gay therapist (gay therapy) for understanding and support
And always remember that it gets better. You won't be in that gay bullying environment forever and acceptance is possible. See the incredible It Gets Better Project for hope from people just like you for more details.4
Over time your parents and siblings will come to accept or even embrace your sexual orientation. Give them time to adjust and don’t insist that they understand right way.
Acknowledge their anger, fear and confusion
Acknowledge that your parents and siblings will go through their own “coming out” process. At first they might be angry and upset and might even make hurtful or spiteful comments. These might be hard for you to hear, but it’s better for them to say their feelings out loud than to keep them bottled up.
They also might worry about what their friends or members of your extended family will say. Your parents might agonize over not having grandchildren, or that you might be victimized because of your sexual orientation.
Remember: your family members care about what's going on in your life because they love you. They might not express their concerns well at first, but they're telling you how they feel because they care about you. Give them time and stick close to the family members that treat you no differently than before you came out.
Help them learn by your experience
Chances are that before you came out you experienced many of the same feelings (isolation, fear of rejection, hurt, confusion, fear of the future, etc.) that your loved ones are feeling now.
Help your parents learn from your experience; don’t expect them to understand right away. Remember that your loved ones need to adjust to this new situation. Just as you did, they need time to acknowledge and accept your homosexuality.
Your friends - especially old friends - might need some time to accept your sexual orientation. Sadly, some may never accept it at all.
Remember: you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. And your real friends are the ones who accept you no matter what. Tell them that you know they’re having trouble understanding or even agreeing with you right now, but you still need their love and support.
It's never easy to deal with homophobic people, but focus on your principles, not theirs.
Don't be afraid to hold your partner’s hand in case someone makes a rude comment. If someone says something rude ignore it. Don’t retaliate or lose your temper.
If homosexuality is a problem to them, let it be their problem. Remember that being homosexual or bisexual doesn’t entitle anyone to make you feel sad or ashamed.
Sources: Whosoever; Avert
Dealing with Workplace Harassment
Many homosexual and bisexual workers suffer harassment at work in the form of anti-gay comments or homophobic behaviour.
Sexual orientation harassment or discrimination in the workplace can take place in many forms. Some of the most common include:
“Jokes” that reinforce the false lesbian, gay, transgendered or bisexual stereotypes.
Signs or posters that belittle homosexual or bisexual people.
Email, interoffice mail, or telephone messages or conversations meant to harass a person because of his or her sexual orientation.
Rude or vulgar language or physical violence that’s meant to intimidate, ridicule or hurt someone because of their sexual orientation.
If you feel you are being harassed due to your sexual orientation:
Realize that Ontario law protects gay, lesbian and bisexual people through the Ontario Human Rights code.
Talk to someone about what’s happening. Visit your Human Resources department or with a manager or supervisor with whom you feel comfortable.
If a colleague is being harassed because of his or her sexual orientation:
Don't accept stereotypical characterizations and beliefs about homosexual or bisexual people.
Respect him or her and be supportive. Offer to accompany the person to file a complaint.
Challenge your colleagues’ homophobic behaviour and attitudes. Don't participate in inappropriate joking or conversation. Speak up about your views on accepting others regardless of their sexual preferences.