Hiding Who I Am: Gay and Lesbian Special Victims
College of Education, Humanities, and Social Sciences
June 18, 2012
The purpose of this paper is to provide the reader with information of the group of special victims known as gay and lesbian. Provided in the paper is the prevalence rate of victimization among gay and lesbians, and three theoretical explanations of why people victimize this group. Gay and lesbians are often victimized by strangers in the home, workplace, and public place.
Hiding Who I Am: Gay and Lesbian Special Victims
An innocent stranger who is subjected to a violent act as a result of his sexual preference is constituted as a homophobic hate crime.???Being an American is about having the right to be who you are. Sometimes that doesn??™t happen.??? This quote by Herb Ritts is definitely understood by gay and lesbians who are often victims of not only hate crimes, but also victims of the justice system as well. In this paper I will discuss major issues facing those individuals, and how this lifestyle choice may not be an easy or safe life to live. Gay and lesbians peak the top of the list when it comes to this Special Victims group.
First we can start with what happens between whom, where and when, and what constitutes a hate crime in this category as far as surveys and reports. According to the journal ???Homophobic Hate Crimes???, hate crimes against gay and lesbians occur between acquaintances and strangers, and the acts happen at school, home, places of amusement, and on the internet (Tibby, 2007, p. 24). It is harder to seek justice for victims of hate crimes because it is unclear to police and the legal system of what really constitutes a hate crime. Although there have been several studies and surveys conducted the results are not always accurate because of the uncertainness of what it is. For instance, how do the researchers report the victims who are transgender, bisexual, and gay or lesbian Simple things like this cause major glitches in the statistics, so we don??™t always have the most accurate numbers on gay and lesbian crime incidents and victims. Therefore, there is no true prevalence.
In 2006, police reported 1,359 incidents of homophobic hate crimes, and estimated ninety percent of homophobic crimes go unreported. Homosexuals often choose not to report incidents and hide their relationships instead of being open, so that they can minimize being attacked. Imagine being in love and finding your soul mate, but because society is constantly judging you and denying you your rights of normal life experiences such as marriage and having children you can??™t enjoy your relationship. Homosexuals not only lose out on those experiences, but face brutal physical attacks as well. The males (gays) especially are victims of physical violence. Sometimes the violence is so brutal against gay victims that an article, ???The Hate Crime??? compared people who carry out brutal physical and mental acts on gay and lesbians to terrorists (Gorton, 2006, p. 13) This is proof that the cost of being a victim of homophobic hate crimes is very expensive, because it comes down to people actually losing their lives, becoming seriously injured or not even being allowed to live life comfortably, because they are so afraid to show the world who they are (p.14).
Based on a research conducted by Georgia State University on a group of heterosexual men (straight), there are three theoretical explanations of what motivates them to victimize gay and lesbians (Parrott and Peterson, 2008, p. 306). These consisted of sexual prejudice, thrill seeking, and peer dynamics. Sexual prejudice is the concept of people being totally against and portraying negative attitudes toward same sex victims no matter the circumstances. There are no shades of grey, they are absolutely against it, and for this purpose they focus on torturing gay and lesbians. Peer dynamics is when the straight guys pick and cause physical fights just because they view homosexuals as weak and wimpy. Thrill seeking is when the straight man attacks out of boredom because they view it as funny or amusing (p. 318) The focus of the study was to examine the role of anger in response to gay men within three theoretical models of antigay aggression. Results indicated that anger fully mediated the relationship between sexual prejudice and antigay aggression, partially mediated the effect of peer dynamics on antigay aggression, and was not the same for the connection between thrill seeking and antigay aggression. These findings indicate that anger in response to gay men accounts for antigay aggression among some, but not all antigay perpetrators.
Lastly, as the years go on into the new generations, gay and lesbianism is becoming a part of the norm. Now it is nothing to walk down the street and see a gay couple holding hands, or read an article about a lesbian couple getting married and adopting children. There are still hate crimes facing homosexual victims, and although studies say gay and lesbian is among the highest of hate crime, I believe we will see a decrease in this, especially because it is becoming normal. We can witness this because the law is actually acknowledging the unfairness and the high crimes against this group of victims. Gay and lesbian victim rights are becoming more and more flexible. Before it was a huge deal for gays to publicize their relationships, now some states have legalized same sex marriage. In the past same sex couples were also deprived the rights of raising children, now, like the legalization of same sex marriage, these victims are also being given the right to adopt children together as well. In addition, laws were passed preventing the discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In conclusion, gay and lesbian individuals face negativity in all aspects of their lives, whether it is from peers, at their jobs, educational institutions, and even in public restaurants. I don??™t think it will ever change. This group will never live in total peace because of their lifestyles, however I do think as time revolves, more and more people will become accepting and the discrimination and violence of hate crimes against same sex couples will lessen.
Herek, Gregory M, Jeanine C. Cogan, and J. Roy Gillis. ???Victim Experiences in Hate Crimes Based on Sexual Orientation.??? Journal of Social Issues 58.2 (2002): 319-39
Parrott, Dominic J., and John L. Peterson. ???What Motivates Hate Crimes Based on Sexual Orientation Mediating Effects of Anger on Antigay Aggression.??? Aggressive Behavior 34.3 (2008): 306-18
Tiby, Eva. ???Constructions of Homophobic Hate Crimes: Definitions, Decisions, Data.??? Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention 8.2 (2007):114-37