Gay bashing

Gay bashing

Gay bashing and gay bullying is verbal or physical abuse against a person who is perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Such abuse is used also to bully heterosexual persons and persons of non-specific or unknown sexual orientation.

A "bashing" may be a specific incident, and one could also use the verb to bash (e.g. "I was gay bashed."). A verbal gay bashing might use sexual slurs, expletives, intimidation, or threats of violence. It also might take place in a political forum and include one or more common anti-gay slogans.

Gay bullying involves intentional and unprovoked actions toward the victim, repeated negative actions by one or more people against another person, and an imbalance of physical or psychological power.[1] Similar terms such as lesbian bullying, queer bullying, and queer bashing may also be formed.


Historical incidents

Gay bashing has occurred worldwide for many decades and continues today.[2] Homophobia in the United States was especially serious in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when many gay people were forced out of government by boards set up by presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. As historian David K. Johnson explains:[3]

The Lavender Scare helped fan the flames of the Red Scare. In popular discourse, communists and homosexuals were often conflated. Both groups were perceived as hidden subcultures with their own meeting places, literature, cultural codes, and bonds of loyalty. Both groups were thought to recruit to their ranks the psychologically weak or disturbed. And both groups were considered immoral and godless. Many people believed that the two groups were working together to undermine the government.

Johnson concludes that Senator Joe McCarthy, notorious for his attacks on alleged Communists in government, was often pressured by his allies to denounce homosexuals in government, but he resisted and did not do so.[3] Using rumors collected by Drew Pearson, one Nevada publisher wrote in 1952 that both McCarthy and his chief counsel, Roy Cohn, were homosexuals.[note 1] Washington Post editor Benjamin C. Bradlee said, "There was a lot of time spent investigating" these allegations, "although no one came close to proving it." No reputable McCarthy biographer has accepted it as probable.[note 2]

Statistics and examples

Teens faced harassment, threats, and violence. In the US, students heard anti-gay slurs such as “homo”, “faggot” and “sissy” about 26 times a day on average, or once every 14 minutes, according to a 1998 study by Mental Health America.[4]

About two-thirds of gay and lesbian students in Britain’s schools have suffered from gay bullying, a survey by the Schools Health Education Unit found. Almost all that had been bullied had experience verbal attacks, 41 percent had been physically attacked, and 17 percent had received death threats.[5]

There is a high rate of suicide among gay men and lesbian women. According to a 1979 Jay and Young study, 40 percent of gay men and 39 percent of gay women in the US had attempted or seriously thought about suicide.[6] In 1985, F. Paris estimated that suicides by gay youth may comprise up to 30 percent of all youth suicides in the US.[6] The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has found that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth attempt suicide at a rate three to six times that of similar-age heterosexual youth.[7]


  • In 1996, Jamie Nabozny won a landmark lawsuit against officials at his former public high school in Ashland, Wisconsin over their refusal to intervene in the "relentless antigay verbal and physical abuse by fellow students" to which he had been subjected and which had resulted in his hospitalization.[8]
  • Damilola Taylor was attacked by a local gang of youths on 27 November 2000 in Peckham, south London; he bled to death after being stabbed with a broken bottle in the thigh, which severed the femoral artery. The BBC, Telegraph, Guardian and Independent newspapers reported at the time that during the weeks between arriving in the UK from Nigeria and the attack he had been subjected to bullying and beating, which included homophobic remarks by a group of boys at his school. "The bullies told him that he was gay."[9] He "may not have understood why he was being bullied at school, or why some other children taunted him about being 'gay' – the word meant nothing to him."[10] He had to ask his mother what 'gay' meant, she said "Boys were swearing at him, saying lots of horrible words. They were calling him names."[10] His mother had spoken about this bullying, but the teachers failed to take it seriously. "She said pupils had accused her son of being gay and had beaten him last Friday."[11] Six months after the murder, his father said, "I spoke to him and he was crying that he was being bullied and being called names. He was being called 'gay'."[12] In the New Statesman two years later, when there had still been no convictions for the crime, Peter Tatchell, gay human rights campaigner, said, "In the days leading up to his murder in south London in November 2000, he was subjected to vicious homophobic abuse and assaults,"[13] and asked why the authorities had ignored this before and after his death.
  • In 2009, Carl Joseph Walker Hoover, an 11-year old boy in Springfield, Massachusetts, hanged himself with an electrical cord. His mother said his classmates at his middle school had bullied and called him “gay” on a daily basis.[14]
  • In 2010, a gay man from Cameroon, an African nation, was granted asylum in the United Kingdom after reporting that he had been attacked by an angry mob in Cameroon after they saw him kissing his male partner. The Communications Minister of Cameroon, Issa Tchiroma, denied the allegation of persecution of homosexuals.[15]
  • Tyler Clementi committed suicide on September 22, 2010, after his roommate at Rutgers University filmed him having a sexual encounter with another male and posted the footage online.[16]
  • A 32-year old man in Paisley, Scotland was bullied and harassed by his employer a Glasgow publishing firm, before he was fired. He later sued the company and won a £120,000 award.[17]
  • On October 14, 2011, Canadian teenager Jamie Hubley, the son of Ottawa city councillor Allan Hubley, committed suicide after having blogged for a month about the anti-gay bullying he was facing at school.[18] The bullying had begun as early as Grade 7, with students on Jamie's bus attempting to stuff batteries in his mouth because he preferred figure skating over hockey.[19]


The state of Illinois passed a law (SB3266) in June 2010 that prohibits gay bullying and other forms of bullying in schools.[20]


In response to growing awareness of gay bashing and bullying, a number of support groups have been founded to help LGBT persons cope with their abuse.[citation needed] In Europe Stonewall UK,[21] BeLonG To LGBT organisation[22][not in citation given] and Anti-Bullying Network[23] are active in the UK, while Russia has the Russian LGBT network.[24][not in citation given]

Notable in the US is the It Gets Better Project, for which celebrities and ordinary LGBT people make YouTube videos and share messages of hope for gay teens.[25][26][27] The organization works with USA, The Trevor Project[26] and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.[27] The Safe Schools Coalition provides resources for teachers and students where bullying is a problem. Egale Canada works with LGBT Canadian citizens.[28] In Brazil, the Gay Group of Bahia (Grupo Gay da Bahia) provides support.[29][not in citation given] LGBT South Africans can turn to the South African Human Rights Commission.[30][not in citation given]

See also


  1. ^ After McCarthy called him an ex-Communist, Hank Greenspun wrote: "It is common talk among homosexuals in Milwaukee who rendezvous in the White Horse Inn that Senator Joe McCarthy has often engaged in homosexual activities." Las Vegas Sun, October 25, 1952. McCarthy later explained he meant to call Greenspun an ex-convict (which was true), rather than an ex-Communist (which was false).
  2. ^ The allegations are specifically rejected in Richard Rovere, Senator Joe McCarthy (1969), p. 68; see also Robert D. Dean, Imperial Brotherhood: Gender and the Making of Cold War Foreign Policy (2001) p. 149 (includes Bradlee quote); Kyle A. Cuordileone, Manhood and American Political Culture in the Cold War (2003), p. 94; Thomas Patrick Doherty, Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture, (2003), p. 228. Geoff Schumacher, Sun, Sin & Suburbia: An Essential History of Modern Las Vegas (2004), p. 144, concludes, "Greenspun descended into mud-spewing rhetoric that would make the National Enquirer blanch."


  1. ^ "Bullying Myths and Facts". US Dept of Education. Retrieved Oct 2 2010. 
  2. ^ Rogers, Thomas. "Explaining American schools' gay bullying epidemic". Retrieved 12 December 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "An interview with David K. Johnson". University of Chicago Press. 
  4. ^ "Mental Health American, Bullying and Gay Youth". National Mental Health Association. 
  5. ^ "Gay Bullying in Schools Common". BBC News. June 26, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b "Gay Male and Lesbian Youth Suicide". 1989. 
  7. ^ "Statistics". American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Retrieved Oct 2 2010. 
  8. ^ "Nabozny v. Podlesny". Lambda Legal. Retrieved 12 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Damilola's grieving father speaks out". BBC News. 30 Nov 2000. 
  10. ^ a b Hopkins, Nick (29 Nov 2000). "Death of a schoolboy". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ Bennetto, Jason (29 Nov 2000). "His mother told teachers he was being bullied. Now she must bury him". Independent. 
  12. ^ Steele, John (19 June 2001). "Damilola's father attacks loss of values". The Telegraph. 
  13. ^ Tatchell, Peter (13 Jan 2003). "A victim of homophobia?". New Statesman. 
  14. ^ "Hoover". WCVB TV, Boston. Retrieved Oct 20 2010. 
  15. ^ "Cameroon Denies Homosexuals Face Persecution". BBC News. July 8, 2010. 
  16. ^ Hu, Winnie (October 1, 2010). "Debate Over Charges in Rutgers Student’s Suicide". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  17. ^ "Harassed gay man’s £120,000 award". BBC News. Oct 2, 2010. 
  18. ^ "15-year-old Jamie Hubley's lonely cry for acceptance". Ottawa Citizen, October 17, 2011.
  19. ^ "Mallick: Meet the boy the bullies broke". Toronto Star, October 18, 2011.
  20. ^ "SB3266 Text". 
  21. ^ "Stonewall, Mayor of London Launch Anti-Homophobic Bullying DVD". Uk gay news. Retrieved Aug 21 2011. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "The Russian LGBT Network". Ilga. Retrieved Aug 21 2011. 
  25. ^ "CBS employees join the It Gets Better Project". CNET. Retrieved Aug 21 2011. 
  26. ^ a b "Adam Lambert Revamps 'Aftermath' for The Trevor Project". MTV. Retrieved Aug 21 2011. 
  27. ^ a b "Dan Savage: For Gay Teens, Life 'Gets Better'". NPR. Retrieved Aug 21 2011. 
  28. ^ "Gay Rights Organization Egale Canada Applauds Decision On Dire Straits Song". City news. Retrieved Aug 21 2011. 
  29. ^
  30. ^

Further reading

  • Duncan, Neil (2001). Sexual Bullying: Gender Conflict and Pupil Culture in Secondary Schools. UK: Routledge. 
  • Meyer, Elizabeth (2009). Gender, Bullying, and Harassment: Strategies to End Sexism and Homophobia in Schools. USA: Teacher’s College Press. 
  • Cyberbullying and the LGBT Community. USA: Human Rights Campaign. 
  • "You Have to Be Strong to Be Gay": Bullying and Educational Attainment in LGB New Zealanders. New Zealand: Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services. 2008. 
  • Traversing the Margins: Intersectionalities in the Bullying of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. New Zealand: Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services. 2008. 
  • Homophobic Bullying and Same-Sex Desire in Anglo-American Schools: An Historical Perspective. New Zealand: Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services. 2008. 
  • Boswell, John (1980). Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century. ISBN 9780226067117. 
  • Cuordileone, K. A. (2000). "'Politics in an Age of Anxiety': Cold War Political Culture and the Crisis in American Masculinity". Journal of American History 87 (2): 515–45. 
  • D'Emilio, John (1989). "The Homosexual Menace: The Politics of Sexuality in Cold War America". In Peiss, Kathy; Simmons, Christina. Passion and Power: Sexuality in History. Temple University Press. pp. 226–40. 
  • Edsall, Nicholas C. (2003). Toward Stonewall: Homosexuality and Society in the Modern Western World. U. of Virginia Press. pp. 384. ISBN 9780813925431. 
  • D'Emilio, John; Freedman, Estelle B. (1997). Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, Second Edition. ISBN 9780226142647. 
  • Fone, Byrne (2001). Homophobia: A History. ISBN 9780312420307. 
  • Hatheway, Jay (2003). The Gilded Age Construction of Modern American Homophobia. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780312234928. 
  • Jenness, Valerie; Richman, Kimberly D. (2002). "Anti-Gay and Lesbian Violence and Its Discontents". In Richardson, Diane; Seidman, Steven. Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies. pp. 403+. 
  • Jenness, Valerie; Grattet, Ryken (2001). Making Hate a Crime: From Social Movement to Law Enforcement. ISBN 9780871544094. 
  • Johnson, David K. (2004). The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226401904. 
  • Kantor, Martin (1998). Homophobia: Description, Development, and Dynamics of Gay Bashing. ISBN 9780275955304. 
  • Minton, Henry L. (2002). Departing from Deviance: A History of Homosexual Rights and Emancipatory Science in America. U. of Chicago Press. pp. 344. ISBN 9780226530444. 

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