Count this as a kind of “solidarity” statement: I know how readily people will bully, abuse or attack gay people, because I’ve caught “gay-bash” treatment, even though I’m straight.
This goes back a long way, since I was still in high school. By some miracle, for a teen of the 1970s in Katoomba, I’d managed to grow up with very little by way of “gaydar”. (I’m still the same: I need to be told someone’s gay, if it matters to them or me (which it rarely does), because I don’t notice. Or care.)
I might have been surprised when some older boys from my high school school gave me a bit of a kicking, if they didn’t have a reputation and if I didn’t have prior experience. The reason surprised me, though: I was being whacked for being a “poof”.
It had to do, it seems, with some other Year 11 boys I habitually walked home with. There wasn’t actually any particular reason, except that we lived in roughly the same direction. Merely the walk home – and my naivety – was enough to brand me.
I didn’t put the jigsaw together myself, until a couple of days later, when they took it on themselves to apologize for getting me into a spot, explain themselves, and offer to keep their distance (which didn’t happen).
(I really can be slow on the uptake: it’s only writing this, 35 years later, that I realize how much they were trusting me when they gave me the background to my bruises.)
The experience sensitized me to how appalling it is for anyone to suffer any kind of bullying or abuse over “being gay”. I can't claim any "insider" understanding here: I was merely a bystander.
But it just shouldn’t happen. Not to anyone.
To conclude: this piece at The Drum, by Brendan Maclean, is well worth the read.
The comments, sadly, remind me that Australia hasn’t moved as far since the 1970s as I thought it had.