Matthew Shepard’s murder resulted in a national outcry. Unfortunately, Matthew Shepard is only one example of a young person who faced homophobic violence. The documentary “Anti-Gay Hate Crime: A & E Investigative Reports” looks deeper into hate crimes against gays by investigating firsthand accounts of homophobic violence. These accounts are provided by the daughter of a gay couple, an openly gay teen, and a straight man mistaken for being gay. These are real life stories which support the claims that anti-gay hate crimes are on the rise. A major driving force against open homosexuality is the church.
In this documentary, the role of homophobic religion is also discussed and how it might contribute to anti-gay violence unintentionally. Anti-gay hate crimes are on the rise, and affect everyone gay and straight. If these violent incidents of homophobia and ignorance continue growing without any attempt to put an end to them, then the very freedoms of gay individuals are jeopardized The documentary interviews a girl and her lesbian parents. From the tender age of 12, this girl started being the target of homophobic taunts from her classmates when she was in Grade 6.
Day in and day out she was forced to endure this torture without any interference from teachers or other school administrators. The years passed and things remained the same. When in high school though, these taunts and verbal attacks became more serious. She was attacked and bashed by a male student on school grounds. No one helped her during this attack, not even school administrators whom she says were present at the time. For safety reasons, the girl withdrew from school. A year after withdrawing she still faced verbal abuse when she left her home.
Having to endure this type of abuse day in and day out can definitely cause psychological damage to the victims. This girl and her parents live with the fear of being attacked at any moment each and every day. All of this because of what? Because her parents are lesbians? A choice which is clearly not hers, yet she still suffers for it. Willi, a gay teen, and his family are also interviewed in this documentary. Willi and his parents moved from their hometown, for safety purposes, after he came out to them. Willi’s father commented about how difficult school is for queer students and their families.
He stated that most parents worry about whether or not their child will make the grade, make a team, or other things of the sort. But when Willi goes to school, his father worries that that might be the last time he sees him. The abuse endured by gay members of society goes way beyond physical and affects all of those around them especially close family members. Violence against gays even impacts straight people. Mark, a straight man with children, was brutally assaulted by somebody who thought he was gay. His attacker saw him hugging a male friend at a bar and drew the assumption that Mark was gay.
The homophobic attack soon followed. When Mark spoke to the police he received the impression that they thought he was gay, and for that reason they weren’t making the case a priority. He then hired a private detective to pressure the police to investigate the case. Even a straight man in today’s society can fall victim to gay-hate crimes; both from strangers on the street and members of the police force. Now Mark feels unsafe when walking the streets of his city, where he felt perfectly comfortable before. Because of the unprecedented increase in crimes against gay people, some call this trend a jihad or a holy war against gays.
An increase in societal tolerance towards homosexual behaviors has sparked uproar within church communities. Many churches portray gay people as either very sinful, or as almost demonic. While churches condemn hate crimes against gay people, it is possible they might have a role in anti-gay crimes. Anti-gay sermons could encourage a small minority to react criminally against gays. Because of these anti-gay sermons, attacking gays can come to be seen as attacking the devil, or sin, instead of as attacking a person. This is why such sermons have been linked to anti-gay hate crimes because they dehumanize homosexual members of society.
In conclusion, all members of society, gay, straight, bi, and everywhere in-between are affected by anti-gay hate crimes in some form or the other. These forms of hate crimes affect members of the gay community in such ways that it limits their freedoms. Some are forced to withdraw from school to avoid the abuse, and others cannot leave their homes without finding confrontation. What kind of life is that? Where one must live in fear because of the person they choose to love. There must be a stop to anti-gay hate crimes in this country or else we face limiting the rights and freedoms of both gay and straight members of society.