Gay Bashing -- What Age, and What Extent?

I hope my intro didn’t sound inflammatory. The reason I ask is that the daughter of an aquaintance of mine (13 yrs old) seems unnaturally obsessed with homosexuality. Constantly making statements that show she is clearly uncomfortable with gays and finds them to be somewhat less than human. I think she picks this up partly from her parents, who I don’t think are dangerous to the point of encouraging her to harm anyone, but who have anti-gay sentiments of their own and will crack jokes and make snide comments around her.

My question to the gay community on this board is when did they first experience prejudice against their sexual orientation, and did they notice any increase in the threat from the same people as they got older? Do you think this kid is going through a Jr. High “mean kid” phase, or does it just get worse? I try to steer her toward a more honest, caring point of view, but she almost seems to not hear me at this point.

Mother of 3 here, a 10-year-old, a 13-year-old, and a 16-year-old.

She doesn’t pick this up “partly from her parents”, Blondie. She picks this up 100% totally from her parents.

I doubt whether there’s anything you can do about the parents, but you can provide a good example for the kid. Don’t yell at her, just gently offer a dissenting opinion. She’s at the age where she’s trying out new ideas, and the idea that “gays are people, too” is not an idea that her parents “get”. So it’s very new to her.

Suppose her folks were dyed-in-the-wool Flat Earthers, and she started learning about plate tectonics in school. She needs to try out two ideas, that the earth is not flat, and that her parents are wrong. That’s a big load for a kid.

She is hearing you, Blondie. She’s just having a little trouble processing the data. You’re telling her, basically, that her parents are wrong. That’s a scary thought.

Just keep up the good work, but don’t yell at her, don’t preach at her, and most importantly, don’t attack her parents in front of her, or to her.

Thanks for the input. The reason I say that her parents are not totally at fault are because she tells me how the kids in school hate so-and-so 'cuz he’s gay, and so forth. I agree that she never learned that this sort of behavior is “wrong” at home, but it is very scary that in this so-called enlightened time, so many kids in school are still promoting this crap.

Well, I have always been masculine and I played football and ran track in high school, so nobody ever suspected I was gay when I was younger. Of course, hearing guys joking about “fags” in the locker room was upsetting, but I never let on. Of course, I had a lot of self-loathing to deal with and suicide was constantly in my thoughts. I always thought all gays were a bunch of limp-wristed sissies who wanted to be girls. I knew that wasn’t me, but I couldn’t reconcile my raging desires for guys on the team with my total fear of being gay. Where I grew up, there was automatic contempt for gays, and it really made me hate myself. I finally came out after I graduated college and had to unlearn a lot of internalized homophobia.
The only time I’ve had a problem since then was when three punks jumped me coming out of a gay bar in Phoenix in 1990 and cracked my head open with a chain. Other than that, I’ve been very lucky to avoid any overt antigay prejudice.

It’s sad that the 13-year-old girl is having hate passed down to her by her parents. The best thing you can do is to tell her (and them) that antigay prejudice is hateful and that it won’t be tolerated in your presence.

Thanks, Goboy. Sorry you had to go through that kind of crap. I had to tell the Dad of this kid not to use the “n” word in my house years ago. He actually seems to be coming around, now that he’s getting older and sober and all. I guess I’ll have to take the same approach with the kid.

It’s really a shame. She’s smart and nice enough, but I can see her throwing her life away already…hanging with a racially biased group (at home and at school), but her best girlfriend is Hispanic! I just don’t get it. It’s like she’s got this internal tug-o-war going all the time. Sad…

Ok, it’s a real hijack.

Hey Goboy,

I graduated HS in '91. I grew up in NJ (close to the city) but practically lived in Greenwich Village. I remember tons of gay bashing stories. It was a huge concern. I even remember posters plastered all over by gay vigilante groups threatening those who had bashed. I recall thinking that it was like a war over there.

Years have gone by since I hung out in the Village.

With the exception of Matthew Shepard, has the tension dropped since the early 90’s? It seems to me that it has, but I would be interested in hearing a better informed opinion on it.

Duck Duck Goose:

Maybe not 100%. My husband and I have several gay/lesbian friends. In fact, his very best friend is gay, and my very best friend is lesbian. We had a cookout one time, looked around, and realized everyone at the party was homosexual except the two of us.

So, my kids have pretty much grown up around homosexuals since birth, and my husband and I have never said a disparaging word about people whose orientation is different than ours. We’ve also done our best to teach open-mindedness towards people of all orientations, races, and religions.

Last summer, my best friend and her fiancee, Suzy, were over and we were discussing whether or not they’d like to get married in my house. (Of course, in Texas such a union wouldn’t be legal, but they want to cement their relationship with a ceremony.) My 6 year old son said, “If you do that, make sure you don’t go outside”.

“Why not?” asked Suzy.

“Because people might see you and think you’re gee-ay-why.” (He said this last in a whisper, as if it was shameful to speak the letters aloud.)

Suzy and I were shocked to hear this from Jake. Jeni immediately said, “He did NOT get that from Eric and Jody.” Needless to say, Jake and I had an in-depth conversation about this later.

No, gay bashing starts in at least kindergarten. Even with parents who teach tolerance and love for all people, kids are very sensitive to the attitudes of their peers.

My experience was that folks generally got more tolerant as they got older. Some girls really do go through an intense mean phase, but once they’re over that they can actually be very decent, kind people. What you’re trying to do is terrific, and although she may be tuning it out now that doesn’t mean it isn’t working into her subconscious for a time she’s more open.

I also wouldn’t blame the parents alone. A lot will depend on her peer group, which sounds pretty unappetizing on the whole. With luck she’ll outgrow them. It does no good to criticise them directly - but maybe she needs some other social outlets, like summer camp, music, sports where she’d rub shoulders with a different bunch.

I have to disagree that her attitude might be “100%” the parents fault. In her case there does seem to be a good case but many of us do not perpetrate this attitude at home. Frankly I do not condone it in my house at all! But my children have come home and called each other “faggot”. My daughter when she was in Jr. High was constantly called “Les-be-ann” because her name is Leslie. As young as kindergarten she was asking me “Mommy whats a faggot?” because other children were calling each other that on the bus.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Eminem. Not that I would blame hate speach solely on the music industry either. Perhaps these other children are learning these things at home, and then trying to pressure and poison mine. I don’t know. I just know that parents are not always solely responsible for the thoughts or actions of their children. Particularily when they reach young adulthood. Let’s face it, I disappointed mine because I didn’t turn out to be a raging bigot. My mother often wonders where she went wrong. Oh thats right she blamed everything on my “pothead friends”.


Thanks for all the input. I know it’s none of my business directly (and her mother will TELL me that in no uncertain terms!) but indirectly, I think we’re all responsible for raising good kids. I know many people don’t go for Hilary’s “It Takes A Village” take on things, but I truly do believe that people, and citizens, learn by example. My experience as a child was that we didn’t want to do anything out of line because a neighbor might see us and tell our folks! We knew that people wouldn’t turn the other way if we were screwing up. I’m not suggesting a “big brother” atmosphere, but I guess I do have a right to tell this kid what’s permissible in my home and what isn’t.

Hmm…tricky subject. Obviously the parents have a major influence over the child, but if you ask me it’s not what they teach children specifically about gays.

For example: if they teach a child to voice their disagreement when they disagree with something, the child will do this. If they, however, teach the child to voice their disagreements while ALWAYS remaining respectful of the other side’s point of view, they will do that as well.

I’ve been fortunate to have my parents teach me things while making sure I remain respectful to other points of view. The result, for me, on this subject at least, is that I think homosexuality is a sin, but I know several homosexuals who are very nice people. I don’t hate them - I consider it a sin the same as losing your temper in most respects.

I think tolerance is where the problem lies. We can get along just fine despite disagreement, so long as we remain open to another’s point of view and always respectful.


The result, for me, on this subject at least, is that I think homosexuality is a sin, but I know several homosexuals who are very nice people. I don’t hate them - I consider it a sin the same as losing your temper in most respects.
Well, I’m glad you’re a tolerant sort, but homosexuality is not a sin, it’s an orientation, just like being left-handed.
Homosexuality is as sinful as heterosexuality. You can’t help being predisposed to love a gender.

I’d always thought that homosexuality was a clear-cut issue for those who believe in the Bible, as I do. I also believe that it is not genetic or anything of the sort.

You have to admit this much: the sheer mechanics seem to go against the way we humans are designed. That alone makes me wonder about it. That, and the Bible of course.

Like I said, I’m not gay-bashing here. I think it is a sin as are things I do, but that’s about it.

Oh, and the only times I have a problem with gay people would probably have to be when some of them wear dog collars and tight leather clothing and dance around in a parade - I wouldn’t like it if straight people did that either, by the way.


To be truely tollerant, you have to make room for those who view it as a sin. The bottom line is that we will not really know until we are dead.

Otherwise you are not doing anything different than those who try to outlaw it and discriminate against those who are gay.

Do you think that it’s possible for a child to grow up in an environment where an entire class of people is seen as behaving sinfully, and still maintain respect for them as people?

I’ve known some amazingly mature children, but I don’t think any of them would be able to maintain that level of detatchment. How can an 8-year-old really internalize the idea that “what these people do is sinful and against God’s will. But treat them with respect anyhow.” ? (Heck, how anyone can pull off that kind of emotional balancing act is beyond me.) If nothing else, people who teach this attitude are making their children vulnerable to the heterocentric propaganda that allows someone to degrade another human being’s status in their own moral system enough to, say, crack their skull with a chain.


Hogwash. I never said that Commish could not air his views. I am a First Amendment absolutist, and I defend free speech, no matter how repugnant.

However, I am not about to cave in to people who want to treat me like a second-class citizen. I firmly believe that Biblical views of sex are ridiculous, and I refuse to be treated as inferior by anyone, ever!

mrvisible: The reason it works for me is because I’m taught that all are sinners, including myself. It’s not that hard to have respect for other sinners if you keep in mind that you yourself suffer from similar things.

goboy: No one is saying you should be treated like a second-class citizen…you’re the first to mention such things here. Perhaps something hit too close to home, but I don’t think anyone said that.

I was saying that it’s a sin - I said it was like losing your temper in some ways, and I certainly didn’t claim that rage-a-holics OR homosexuals should be treated with less respect than others.

Like I said, the only beef I have with homosexuals would have to be that parade, which is in approrpriate for anyone, regardless of their stance on sexuality.

Hold on there All Star…
You have two seperate and distinct things going on in that sentence.

Regardless of your views on the Bible and sex, they are a totally seperate issue from how you are treated.

Goboy: I love the person, but their views are repugnant.

Right-Wing Christian: I love the person, but the actions are repugnant.
I see no difference between your views and and their’s. I would not call your views tolerant anymore than I would call Fallwell’s views on homosexuality tolerant.

You are both trying to “win.”

It’s definitely from peers. My dad would make jokes about a guy who seemed feminine (“Now there’s a guy who sits down to piss”), but for the most part, he and my mom have ALWAYS stressed that I should never judge anyone, or make fun of them, or worry about what they did in their lives. But in junior high, of course my friends and I would go, “Ew, that’s so gay,”, or “You’re such a faggot!”
Now of course, I don’t say those kinds of things. Like I said, my dad may have made those remarks, but he always taught me that you do NOT go around belittling others. You mind your own business and treat everyone with respect, because it’s not my duty to judge.

Overheard outside our church a couple of weeks ago:

Two 11-year-old boys talking, not realizing I was standing nearby…

“Did you hear what happened to {boy’s name} in school?”
“No, what?”
“He got caught kissing {girl’s name}!”
“Eeeuw!! That’s so gay!!”