An Epidemic of Hatred

There have been two episodes of gay-bashing in California in the last week. In the first, three men stood outside a gay club yelling epithets at entering patrons, then smashed a window, then got into a physical fight with patrons who confronted them. Then yesterday, a graver attack was mounted on three gay men leaving San Diego Pride festivities. They were taunted, struck with a baseball bat, and one may have been stabbed. (All three received serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.)

Recently, a lesbian couple in Maine had their home left in ruins after an attack which included anti-gay messages scrawled on the walls, smashed and stolen property, and urination and defecation throughout.

These closely follow a similar pattern seen around the country last summer, during which in July alone, a gay club in Brownsville, Texas was torched, and the week before that, the only gay club in Fayetteville, Arkansas was torched, and earlier in July, a gay-friendly UCC church was tagged with anti-gay graffiti and then torched.

Three big stories in one month, two years in a row—and only stories of attacks so vicious they made the news, and only the local and alternative national news, at that.

Consider for a moment the stories you see on the nightly news. Try to recall the scare stories that are built up around two children nationwide getting injured by a faulty toy, or three people nationwide having died from side effects of a medication, or ten people in your city having been attacked by pit bulls over the last twenty years. “A rash of incidents.” “An epidemic.” “What can we do?” “What you need to know to protect yourself.”

Consider that after two women died after taking RU-486 (after it has been dispensed over half a million times), two anti-choice Senators jumped to propose legislation that would suspend the use of the drug.

Consider that as the Senate passed legislation to federally criminalize the evasion of parental notification laws, the Republican Senator who wrote the legislation justified it by saying, “If it is happening 20 times a year, it is still worth doing to protect those parental rights and to protect those children from being in these kinds of situations.”

Consider that the flag-burning amendment was deemed a necessity, though only something like five flags have burned in decades.

Consider that the Pledge Protection Act was deemed a necessity, on the possibility that someone might bring a legal challenge based on the phrase “Under God.”

Consider that one of the primary rationales among opponents of marriage equality is that it must be prevented lest preposterous hypotheticals about men wanting to marry dogs come to fruition.

How little it takes to whip up the media into an exploitative frenzy, all in the name of “protecting” us. How little it takes to move our Congress to pay attention to an issue and pass legislation to “protect” us. (Which is, of course, ever an excuse to limit our rights, but they nonetheless claim it’s about “protection.”) One or two incidents, or, sometimes, just an imaginary scenario of what might happen. That’s all it takes.

But in the course of two months, there have been at least six vicious attacks on the LGBT community, and the media is silent. And Congress, well, they were pushing for an amendment to deny equal rights to same-sex couples. Their focus was “protecting the sanctity of marriage.” They’re more concerned with protecting an institution, an abstract concept, than protecting people.

When churches throughout the South were being burned, it was national news. When a hate crime at Seattle’s Jewish Federation claimed the life of someone the other day, it was national news. And it should have been, in both cases. But an epidemic of hatred against the LGBT community in this country is not garnering the same attention—even as Congress pursues discriminatory legislation and courts are ruling against challengers to marriage inequality.

Think there’s a correlation?

The anti-gay hysteria that’s leading to an epidemic of hate crimes against the LGBT community is constantly being inflamed by the GOP’s use of gay rights as a wedge issue, their use of anti-gay rhetoric, their exploitation of anti-gay sentiment. And even with people being attacked and their homes being burned, the Dems can’t be arsed to take a bloody principled stand. And the media doesn’t care. They’ve finally got a real epidemic on their hands and it’s utter silence.

So I guess it’s up to us.

Write your Congress members and your local media and tell them to pay attention to this Epidemic of Hatred against the LGBT community. Donate to LGBT advocacy groups. Straight people, register your support with Atticus Circle and PFLAG. And keep talking about this. Blog this issue. Tell anyone who will listen and get them involved.

Hatred flourishes in silence. Let’s make some noise.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus