Saturday, September 08, 2012

My brush with “gay-bashing” bullying

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.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I disagree. Australia has moved forward, at no less than truly revolutionary speed, since the 1970s. In only 40 years, and in fact I would contend only in the last 22 or so, which in a historical context is a mere blink of an eye, our society has become overwhelmingly accepting of gay people. There are of course exceptions, wherein gay people are still vilified, harassed, and injured on the basis of their orientation, but by and large, the problem is on the way out. There will always probably be people who are prejudically against people who are different to them; that is merely a function of the range of human morphology coupled with the background statistical mental inflexibility we are always going to have in some people, but by and large society has evolved rapidly in the right direction. We also need to recognise that, quite simply, we may not be at the end of this process as yet, but we are getting there. Rather than hand-wringing etc we need to provide support where it is needed, and to keep plodding toward the ultimate goal, whereby sexual orientation is a genuine non-issue, the mere mention of which is somewhat quaint and archaic.