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june 3,2003

The Dangers Of Gay Bashing
by:Alexandra Cumba
Picture By:Jordan Cook

Ask anyone his or her definition of “gay”. Some will simply reply that it refers to homosexuals and bisexuals alike. Despite its most common usage, many people have their own view of the word. But, no matter what your take is on the term, along with any other label homosexuality has acquired over the years, one thing is undisputable, society does degrade the lifestyle rather than incorporate tolerance. For decades same sex orientation has been a focal point for violence and discrimination.

Even way before the infamous bigotry of Adolph Hitler, homosexuality was used as a motive to carry out genocide. “Gays” faced prevalent violence, harassment, prejudice, and death. In the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries hate crimes against “gays” grew tremendously high. Today, such crimes remain in existence, making it clear that homosexuals have no safe haven in this society. Believe it or not, there are eighty-three countries today that outlaw homosexuality as well as several of our own states.

In Massachusetts, for example, reported hate crimes against “gays” increased 42 percent in 1997. A hotline, created by the St. Louis Anti-Violence Project in 1995, recorded that 47 percent of the calls were violent crimes against homosexuals. FBI Hate Crimes Statistics shows that in 2001 there were 1,393 reported incidents against gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals. In 1991, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force announced a 31 percent increase in violence. A spokesperson for this task force, Robin Kane, said, “The gay and lesbian community is more visible now than it has been in the past. With increased visibility we [have become] more visible targets for those who hate us”. Many people today, especially young people, are more and more open with their homosexuality and society is failing to accept it.

Recently, a young girl in New Jersey lost her life to bias intimidation. On May 11th around 3:20 a.m. Sakia Gunn, 15, was at a bust stop in Newark with four of her female friends. Retuning from a party in Greenwich Village, the girls were approached by two men in a white station wagon on the corner of Broad and Market Streets. Sakia Gunn rejected the sexual advances made by one of the men by declaring her homosexuality as well as her friends?. Subsequently, she was stabbed in the chest and left to fight for her life. Sakia Gunn was taken to the University Hospital in Newark where she died later that morning. On Thursday, May 15th Latona Gunn and about 300 others, many which were gay activists, held a rally at Newark City Hall for better police protection of gays. On that same day, Richard McCullough, 29, turned himself in to Newark police. He was identified by witnesses as being the passenger in the car and as the killer. He has been charged with weapon possession, homicide, and bias intimidation

Homophobia is the reason behind each and every hate crime. People are brainwashed and forced to believe that homosexuality is morally wrong. Celebrities, if none other, are great influences and can spread homophobia rapidly. Dr. Laura Schlessinger has verbally attack homosexuals on her radio show, calling them “biological errors”, thus showing her support for anti-gay sentiment and fueling it simultaneously.

Based on statistics, schools are breeding grounds for homophobia. It is not uncommon for both gay students and teachers to be harassed and discriminated against. For example, The Queensland government decided that religiously affiliated schools have the right to discriminate against gay teachers. A particular man who supported the government?s actions against homosexuality said, “When we took God out of schools in the 1960s, the education system went downhill. Now it’s time to put God back in the classroom”. Schools prove to be the main places where ideas are expressed and instilled into the young and impressionable minds of students.

No one is aware of what will happen in the future. Only time can tell if things shall remain the same. In order to see change we must make it happen. An openly gay student at the Frederick Douglass Academy, Luis Berrios, 14, himself has experienced prejudice inside and outside of his school. He stated, “What we need are laws and rights to protect us. Prejudice has been going on for a very long time and if this doesn’t open our eyes then I don’t know what will”.


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