Covering Issues The Way The Media Should
Just when you thought the enlightened citizenry of our great country were making moves towards becoming a kinder and gentler nation, you may be surprised by the fact that homophobia and violence continue to permeate the lives of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people throughout the United States. As the number of general crimes decreases throughout the United States, the number of hate crimes committed against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people continues to rise. But crimes are also committed against heterosexual people who are assumed to be gay. The bashers were so fucking stupid they didn’t even know they were bashing themselves, in a manner of speaking. “Not only were more incidents perpetrated against gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people, but these crimes were more violent, causing serious injury to a significant number of people.” Let’s take a look into just what the fuck is going on.
So who are the people perpetrating these crimes? The majority of them were complete strangers in 41% of the incidents. In 37% of the incidents, the perpetrator of the hate crime was clearly known to the victim. These statistics indicate that bias crimes are more often committed by a known person at nearly the same rate as total strangers. Over 67% of the perpetrators are under the age of 30 with 21% of the offenders under 18 years of age. You would probably think the majority of the crimes committed occurred in and around “gay bars” or at gay institutions or events. Actually, the majority of these crimes occurred on the street, and in and around the victim's home and office. Twenty-five percent of all bias-related incidents occurred on the street or in a public place. Twenty-two percent occurred in or around the home of the victim and thirteen percent occurred in the workplace. Consider that if you were a gay, lesbian, bisexual transgendered person, you shouldn’t even feel safe in your own home. While the larger percentage (41%) of offenders were strangers to their victims, landlords, neighbors and tenants made up 16% and employers and coworkers made up 10% of the perpetrators.
Not only did the number of incidents of violence increase in gay hate crimes, but the level of intensity and viciousness increased as well. The number of incidents that included at least one assaultive offense rose from 39% in 1995 to 41% in 1996. Assaultive incidents include assault without a weapon, assault with a weapon, attempted assault with a weapon, sexual assault, rape and murder. The types of weapons used have changed from the last study done. In the past, throwing objects like bricks, bottles and rocks were most popular with bashers. Now hand held objects such as bats, clubs, lead pipes and other blunt objects seem to be more popular with today’s bashers. Bats, clubs and blunt objects were used most frequently, 24% of the time. Bottles, bricks and rocks were used 21% of the time, knives and sharp objects, like screw drivers, were used 17% of the time and firearms 14% of the time. “They are getting more and more gutsy. Before they would just like yell at you and throw things. Now they want to kill you. I just don’t understand why? What did we ever do to them?”
In regard to murders committed against gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons, the level of hostility has dramatically increased with 57% of all of these murders involving an overwhelming level of violence consistent with a motivation based on hatred known as “overkill." Murders classified as overkill involve at least one of the following; 1) four or more gunshots or stab wounds; 2) repeated use of blunt object(s); or 3) use of more than one method of murder, any one of which would have independently killed the victim, such as strangulation followed by multiple stabbings.
The highest number of hate crimes against the gay community occurred in the month of June. June marks the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City when the gay community organized and fought back against the police. One can say that all of the increased attention brought on by the media frenzy surrounding anything having to do with the gay community is accompanied by a somewhat violent backlash of anger and hatred by ignorant masses glued to their televisions sets looking for reasons to act on their hate. So you have Bubba and the boys liquored up going out in their pick up with the rebel flag decal on the back window looking for some queers to beat up... what a sight, huh?
Ninety-four percent of all reported incidents were acts which constituted criminal behavior in most states, yet many gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people are afraid to go to the police. There is a large amount of understandable fear and mistrust with law enforcement officials. This mistrust appears to be well placed with nearly half, 49%, of the victims who sought police assistance saying the police response was indifferent. Thirty-seven percent felt the police were verbally abusive and 12% reported the police as physically abusive. On some occasions, law enforcement officials publicly taunted victims simply because of their sexuality. In the gay community, there is a commonly held belief that involving the police in this sort of situation could actually complicate things. Sometimes it is best to just suffer in privacy.
Gay bashing touches the lives of many people, including teenagers. Josh is a 16-year old who was jumped by six other students, simply because he is gay. “All of a sudden I turned around and I saw six big trendies. I could see by the looks on their faces that there was going to be some serious problems. At first I thought it was because I’m a skateboarder that they were messing with me, but then they used the words faggot and queer and started talking all this smack. It was at that point that I knew it was because they knew I was gay. I first tried to reason with them, I didn’t want any trouble, you know. I tried to defend myself, but one against six isn’t fair odds so I got my ass kicked, dude. They punched and kicked me all over my body, especially in my face and chest area. One dude even bit me. When they were through, they took my back pack and my skateboard and some of them even spit on me. I refused to cry in front of the dudes that jacked me up, but I did let all my emotions out as I walked home. I couldn’t believe that people would do this to me just because I was gay. It sucks to be different in this world, bro. I have always believed in live and let live, but they don’t feel that way. The things they said and how forceful they hurt me told me that if any of them had a gun or a knife, they would have killed me. I mean it, dude.” One final statement by Josh really makes you think. “And the most wacked thing about all this is that I’m a straight edge. You know, no drugs, no cigarettes, no alcohol and no sex. Hell, I’m still a virgin, I just like guys, yo.” Since this has happened, Josh has tried to kill himself.
People like Josh are pretty fucking intimidating right? He’s a 16 year old teenager who skateboards and doesn’t drink, smoke, do drugs or have sex and he is attracted to guys. So Josh deserves to get a broken nose, several broken ribs and bruises all over his body. He deserves to live with the emotional scars from the bashing and become so haunted that he decides to try and kill himself. “My life just like became all unbearable and I was living in constant fear of everyone behind me... and if they were going to hurt me. I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I wanted the fear to go away, I didn’t care how.”
Next time you are out and decide to bash someone because of their sexuality of for any other lame ass reason, consider the fact that the physical damage you do may heal, but the emotional scars may last a lifetime. If Josh had succeeded in killing himself because of what happened, those six guys would have never been charged with his death, even though they were the underlying cause. We as a nation and a people have a long way to go in regards to treating our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters as equals. All they want to do is live out their lives just like you do. All they want is to love someone and be loved... so what if it is with a member of the same sex.
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