The LGBT acronym means the world to those who are associated with it. LGBT not only means, gay, bisexual, and transgender; to the members of the LGBT community, it also means, pride, love, acceptance, and community. Shrouded in fear and surrounded by hate crimes, the LGBT community has suffered at the hands of injustices throughout the years. Most recently, a hate crime aimed at killing as many LGBT men and women as possible, at the hands of Omar Mateen, in the Pulse Orlando nightclub, on June 11, 2016.
The LGBT community understands the value of hate crimes placed on African-Americans throughout the years and their fight to gain their freedom and equal rights. Some might say, how can the two even be compared? The members of the LGBT community have never been enslaved. But they have if people think about the words in the definition, which states:
A person who is excessively dependent upon or controlled by something, to be controlled by another.
“To be controlled by another,” powerful words that are in need of a further look into how society has controlled the LGBT community.
Being Gay in the 1900s
Oppression of the people within the LGBT community was a common practice by straight people since the early 1900s. According to Sexuality in American History, the U.S. Senate made a statement against the community overall, in the 1950s, stating that the “social stigma of being gay or lesbian was one in which sexual perversions were attached.” It continued, “that perverts go to great lengths to hide their perverted tendencies.” Needless to say, the thought process behind these words can cause one to believe that all gays must be predators and out to expose themselves, or even worse molest children.
To be openly gay in the 1950s, was considered to be taboo and held guilt and shame for those who felt differently than others, as reported by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. In the 1920s, straight men would threaten physical harm to men they thought to be gay, pushing them out of the neighborhood. This left the person fearing for their safety, therefore, the only safe way to be gay then was to have anonymous sexual encounters with strangers.
Howard J. Ehrlich explains that the violence behind the problem of the typical “gay-basher” in the 1990s, is that there were three basic threats that raised a violent response:
- Violation of territory
- Violation of the sacred
- Violation of status
He also goes on to state that the behavior of the potential victim is not given a choice but to react with violence against the assailant, who has backed their victim into a corner. Hiding who they were in the early to mid 1900a was the only safe alternative.
Hate Crimes Against the LGBT Community
- Houston, Texas, Paul Broussard, 27, and two of his friends were attacked by 10 men, on July 4, 1991, outside of the gay bar, Heaven. The attack was carried out by assailants wearing steel-toed boots. They used a knife and wooden planks with nails in them. The attack, according to Advocate, was dubbed the Houston’s Stonewall, because of the protests from the LGBT community in front of the home of the mayor and each of the 10 attackers.
- Richmond, California, faced a horrific crime against a 28-year-old young woman, on Dec. 13, 2008, when she was gang-raped by four men repeatedly because she was openly gay.
- Oxnard, California a teenage boy named Lawrence King, 15, was in class when he was shot twice in the head and killed on February 12, 2008. The boy was known to be openly gay at school and said to be sassy and wear flashy clothing. The teenager who shot him, Brandon McInerney, 14, was tried as an adult with one count of murder and a hate crime.
- Greeley, Colorado, Angie Zapata, 20, was beaten to death on July 16, 2008, by her date, Allen Andrade, after he discovered she was transgender and still had male genitalia. Andrade hit her with a fire extinguisher, hoping he had “killed it.” He was also affiliated with a gang who had a no tolerance policy on gays. He was subsequently charged with first-degree murder.
- The very few attacks on the LGBT Community listed in the above synopsis is only a brief look into the fear placed on the LGBT community because of radically charged individuals. Racism is a hate infused crime geared towards a certain race of people, while prejudice is an equivalent hate geared towards not only the LGBT community but at any group considered to be different.
As recent as June 11, 2016, it is still overwhelmingly evident that hate crimes against the LBGT community are not at an end. Fear and sadness for a community that only loves and gives back, seems like an unfair trade-off, to such a dynamic of fabulous and prolific men and women.
LGBT pride month is underway in many cities and states around the world to celebrate milestones, as well as love and unity within the LGBT community. It is in these LGBT pride events that the community is able to band together and help each other heal. It is here where their family and friends can come and support their LGBT loved ones and stand up for crimes that are truly against the whole of the world.
Opinion News by Tracy Blake
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Advocate: 12 Crimes That Changed the LGBT World
SvfreeNYC: Factsheets: Violence Against Gays and Lesbians
Civil Rights: Hate Crimes Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, And Transgender Individuals
Blogs.lt.vt.edu: Gay Oppression in the Early and Middle 1900s
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Bryan Ledgard’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Mesa Tactical’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License