Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter September, 2009

Will’s father commented about how difficult school is for queer students. “Most parents worry about if they make a grade, make a team, or do things like that. When we sent Willi to school, we worried that it would be the last time we would see him.” Stated in interview in the documentary movie Anti-Gay Hate Crime: A & E Investigative Reports. Available from Amazon.Com and Amazon.Ca.
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Minority groups need allies in powerful places. Senator Edward Kennedy was an alley to the queer community. His death is mourned by many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified people. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kennedy family.

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Historically gay, lesbian, and bisexual people suffered from the stigma of mental illness. Homosexuality was classified as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM. Feeling not just different, but sick, was difficult for gays and bisexuals. Attempts to cure homosexuals included methods such as shocking their genitals. Decades after homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, gays, bisexuals, and lesbians still suffer from being treated as if they are ill.

Some people who describe themselves as mental health professionals claim to offer reparative therapy, counselling aimed at helping gay people become straight. An article “It Just Doesn’t Work” in the September 16, 2009 Perceptions magazine discusses recent developments in the American Psychological Association. Judith Glassgold, chair of a taskforce on the issue, is quoted as saying, “Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.” The article states a resolution was passed by the American Psychological Association asking mental health professionals to avoid giving clients the impression sexual orientations can be changed by therapy. Glassgold comments, “We recommend that psychologists be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change.”

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Those of us who read and comment about hate crimes are used to reading the grizzly details of brutal hate crimes. Constantly exposure to news about hate crimes leaves a person a bit desensitized. Then a news report hits hard, and you feel numb and demoralized. This month, several news reports hit this writer’s heart. Several of the events brought back memories of the loss of Matthew Shepard, Philip Walsted, Aaron Webster, and Bill Clayton. The news illustrated the very high personal cost of fear, prejudice, discrimination, and hate.

Three recent events combined to deliver a 1-2-3 emotional punch. The first recent event that pulled at heart strings was news of the tragic suicide of a young gay adult. The second was a video by a gay You Tuber. The third event was the brutal gay bashing of a Thunder Bay, Ontario man, Jake Raynard.

Jake Raynard, a gay Thunder Bay, Ontario man, was beaten by a group of people. His injuries are significant. According to an article in the September 16, 2009 Perceptions magazine, his face suffered multiple fractures. He ended up with 15 fractures. An Xtraonline You Tube video indicates Jake Raynard required reconstructive surgery to his head.

Unlike many victims of gay bashing, Jake Raynard has the courage to go public, and to talk about what happened. As a result of his speaking out, a protest was held in the small Ontario city. The Perceptions article reports a trust fund was established to help cover Jake Raynard’s legal costs, medical costs, and lost wages. The Xtraonline video interviews people at the Thunder Bay protest against gay bashing. Jake Raynard and his sister spoke briefly at the rally. Raynard reflects on his life and the attack in a MorvisionTube video. Hate crimes can terrorize an entire community. Living daily with deep levels of fear is costly.

Matthew Lush is a very popular You Tube personality. In a powerful video, Matthew Lush talks about hate crimes. He describes what it feels like to experience numerous death threats. Lush believes he will not die of old age, but that he will be murdered. Living with constant fear is not easy. Most people who are not living in war-ravaged regions have no idea what it is like to live every day with fear. We go about our daily lives - going to work or going to school - without worrying if we will live to get home that evening. Paralyzing fear is not a given in our lives. Unfortunately, debilitating levels of fear can be a very real part of being gay for or bisexual.

Homophobia and bullying is very expensive. Victims can end up feeling powerless, degraded, and dehumanized. The cost to society cannot easily be measured in dollars and cents, but it would be into the millions of dollars annually. High school dropouts have lower incomes. That means they contribute less to the gross national production, and contribute less money to the tax base. More than a few queer students drop out of school, because school is not a safe place to be. Other GLBT youth may feel their spirits were broken in school. As a result, they might not try as hard to get promotions, or to take advantage of business opportunities.

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In a video posted on You Tube, Republican Trent Franks refers to President Barack Obama as an “enemy of humanity.” The quote attributed to Trent Franks is a source of concern. Inflammatory rhetoric can result in violence against individuals or groups of people.

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Anybody with news about hate crimes or discrimination is welcome to email us.

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