This Is A Homophobia Post: Sometimes the World Is Terrible For Gays, Lesbians

via queerty

There was a lot of homophobia this week.

Kristen Cooper, a student at University of Texas San Antonio, was assaulted,  and she believes it was because she is gay. Cooper was waiting for a ride after a party last weekend when two men punched her, threw her into a truck, and continued the assault until they dropped her off at the side of a highway, where she walked until a passing driver called 911. According to KENS5,

“‘It was bad, it hurt really bad, it was like full fist and I tried to fight them off, but I couldn’t,’ said Cooper. [...]

Cooper said the only thing the men knew about her was that she was gay and during the beating she claims they were calling her anti-homosexual slurs. That’s why it leads her to believe it happened for one reason.

‘I just think it was a hate crime against me,’ said Cooper.”

Earlier this week in Richmond, VA, Brittany Nicole Poteet, otherwise known as Miss Virginia USA, was accused of homophobic slurs and threats of violence against her roommate, Derek Powell, and his boyfriend, at a party on Saturday. According to Think Progress,

“Poteet was ‘extremely intoxicated’ that night and seemed upset that she did not have the full house to herself. She responded by lashing out at Powell, his boyfriend Chris, and their friends, swinging her shoes at the group, pushing people, and claiming that her male companion would ‘beat their ass.’ Poteet kneed another person, ripped the door off of a family heirloom, and ‘downgraded people based on their physical appearance and economic status,’ Powell explains in his letter. The police were called, but it’s unclear if an official incident report was ever filed. ThinkProgress spoke with two other attendees who confirmed Poteet’s behavior and use of anti-gay slurs.”

In Tampa Bay, Florida, a newly married lesbian couple was refused name changes to their drivers licenses and were misled by several DMV employees before being denied. According to WTSP, Rachel and Charlotte Lambert-Jolle showed up with a valid Connecticut marriage license and social security cards with their hyphenated last name, but were refused because a same-sex marriage license isn’t recognized in Florida:

“Florida DMV spokesperson Ann Howard says because the marriage license isn’t accepted, gay couples need additional documents, including a social security card and a passport, or a court order to get their names changed on a driver’s license. 

Howard says she isn’t sure why an employee would say otherwise. She points out without knowing the names of the employees the couple spoke with, it’s impossible to tell where an error may have been made.

‘The possibility does exist that it may not have been explained to them that it was a same-sex marriage from out of state,’ she told 10 News.

The newlyweds, though, say it was made perfectly clear.”

In Parker, Colorado, someone painted “Kill the Gays” on a lesbian couple’s garage door. A target was also painted on their front door, and a noose was left on their step the following night. Their car has also been keyed and faces have been left on their property. Christel Conklin and Aimee Whitchurch, who have lived in their condo for only six months, believe the threats are related to a conflict with their Homeowners Association, ostensibly because the couple doesn’t pick up after their dogs (since they have a Great Dane and a Mastiff, Conklin says this claim is completely invalid). According to 9News,

“The couple called their HOA President on Friday night and told him about the situation, but they say it wasn’t handled properly. [...]

‘I don’t understand this. This is not the reaction you would expect to see from your community,’ Whitchurch said.

‘For someone to target us for our lifestyle — it’s ridiculous,’ Conklin said.”

So far no one is in custody, but a representative from the local sheriff’s office says that criminal mischief over $1,000 and an “anti-bias crime” are both involved.

In San Diego United District, another lesbian couple is facing threats and hate mail, this time for being voted in homecoming king and queen. Rebecca Arellano and Haileigh Adams are the first same-sex couple to win the nomination. While they have received some support, they have also received criticism, including from adult members of the community. According to NBC Sandiego, Superintendent Bill Kowba said,

“‘What is essentially disappointing is that adults who have contacted the school, many not even San Diego residents, are demonstrating such a lack of tolerance and such a negative role model for children with their hateful comments,’ Kowba said.

Kowba calls the adults behind the threats ‘bullies.’”

Burke Burnett, of Texas, was stabbed multiple times and set on fire in a homophobic assault last weekend. In Italy, a lesbian was told that her orientation means she is “considered a risk” for blood donation and that she was not allowed to give blood. And yesterday evening, a blog for the Houston Chronicle argued that the best way to protect people from hate crimes, and specifically young gay people from killing themselves, is for everyone to stay in the closet.

There are multiple studies suggesting that hate crimes are vastly underreported. One suggests that only about 20% of incidents are reported. Another, by the FBI, found that that number should be 44%. Statistics Canada suggests that the number should be 34%. Not all of the homophobic incidents from the past week are hate crimes, but all were motivated by hate, and involved the unequal power dynamic that queer people live under every day. There are likely violent crimes that did not make this list because they weren’t even reported, and Miss Virgina-esque incidents that weren’t even noticed because they weren’t committed by Miss Virginia. The fact that these few incidents were reported, and were discussed by media, just isn’t enough.

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Carolyn is the NSFW Editor for Autostraddle.com. She is also a freelance copy editor and writer, and her work has appeared in Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, the Billfold, and other places. Find her on twitter.

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48 Comments

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    I’m almost as upset about the biased reporting in the first link as I am about the actual hate crime.

    “That’s because she said she was assaulted by two men and CLAIMS it was all due to her being gay.”

    “without a phone she CLAIMS she walked along the roadway.”

    and the police can’t confirm if it was a hate crime?

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      Yeah I mean I think I get what they were trying to do — like that, as journalists, they can’t say that these things actually happened until the assailants are tried and found guilty — but this seemed like a truly terrible way to go about it. Just say “she said”! Like a normal human being would when reporting on someone’s words!

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        Yes, this is accurate. It seems like the reporter was trying to attribute all the facts, which is good, but he went about it in the wrong way. Using “she said” or “according to police reports” would have been less biased. The writing in the article is pretty bad overall, though. It doesn’t seem like anyone edited it.

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      Kelly, I believe this is just due to how journalists are required to report alleged crimes. For instance, if someone walked into a mall and shot some people, even if hundreds of people saw that person do it, they would still be referred to as ‘the alleged shooter’ in the media.

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    And in an Ohio highvschool, some kid got beat up for being gay. It was caught on tape. The bully was charged with a felony.

    Then… like a week later… another kid, at a high school far away from the first incident, got beat up because his /sister/ was gay. Nothing will happen until “the investigation is complete”

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      This happened to my friend’s brother. My friend came out to him so he joined my school’s GSA and some assholes beat him up. The school and police did nothing, yet the guy had to go to the hospital with broken ribs.

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    Gosh this is so freaking sad! First all the hate crimes are really sickening! Then these adults who may not even be from San Diego are calling the school and/or sending hate mail to those poor girls is upsetting. Then the Houston Chronicle saying that gays should stay in the closet to prevent hate crime is absurd. Damn guess I better go back in to the closet and make it comfortable this time… I’ll be out again when it is time to eat lunch.

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    this is ridiculous. it truly boggles my mind how people think that they have the right to discriminate and abuse people b/c of their sexual orientation. the relationship btwn two consenting adults is no one’s damn business! love is a human right, not a privilege afforded to the groups that society deems ‘ok’

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    If your trans you also can not give blood. At least in the U.S.
    Seems crazy to me. Also, I don’t get all these haters. What I do behind closed doors doesn’t affect anyone at all. Why all the hate? Is it really all these people have left to do in life? Is to find someone to hate? If they would use all that energy to make the world a better place instead of destroying it, we might all get somewhere in life.

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        If you’re taking HRT, you’re disqualified, just as anyone who’s on long-term medication is disqualified. That’s how it is here in the UK, anyway; I imagine the situation in the USA is similar.

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          Well, I have to agree with this particular regulation. Let’s not try to spin this one into a transhate thing. The lesbian however, should totally be able to donate blood. I think statistically, sexually active straight women are more likely to be carriers of STD’s STI’s and whatnot…

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          Hmm, perhaps not. Hormones tend to hang around in the blood a long time—that’s kind of the point—and I can see why there’d be a medical contraindication for people taking them. It certainly applies to post-menopausal cis women taking HRT as well as trans people.

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          The Australian Red Cross seemed happy enough to take mine.

          Do they disqualify cis women who take birth control? I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but those are artificial hormones, too…

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          Years ago, I was told I was disqualified from giving blood because of the psychiatric medication I was on… Certain stuff makes you off limits.

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      There’s a list of reasons why people can’t give blood. Can’t if you’ve had a tattoo in the past year, a piecing in 6 months or ever been to africa. It’s not like trans/gay people are being targeted on that issue.

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        Lesbians aren’t, by American Red Cross rules, banned from giving blood. Men who have had sex with other men are, however. Which is a completely antiquated rule and is no longer based on facts or reason. It is not like many of the other rules that exist for safety reasons. That is in fact the Red Cross targeting gay men.

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      What?!

      I didn’t know this. I know literally hundreds of rights are denied to genderqueers but that’s just ridiculous.

      Can everyone buy “Legalize Trans*” shirts, please? Not only for profits going to a good cause and awareness but because gender equality is fucking vital and right now it seems like worldwide legalization of equal marriage is more attainable than Facebook adding an “other/both/none/depends” button for genders.

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    It is just so disappointing to see this kind of discriminatory behavior. It is beyond me why anyone else thinks they have a say in our lives or has the audacity to think they are better than us. Do they really have nothing better to do with their lives than obsess over what others are doing???

    It is not the first time this type of thing has happened in the US, think back to women’s right’s, inter-racial marriage, black rights, native american rights….and of course there are other places in the world that are worse off…it is pretty sad really

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    sadly I’ve come to expect stories like the one out of san diego or houston. but all of this violence just blows my mind. like all of this, this week?! usually I dont hear about these things. I wish is was more widely reported. like maybe it would make people who kind of passively support equality actually speak and say this is not right. it would get people talking. I’m not really sure how to word what I’m trying to say right now, maybe I’ll come back to this.

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    I definitely went to high school with a guy named Derek Powell, so that’s weird. I’m also pretty sure that I can’t give blood because I’m diabetic (woot daily injections!), but I could be wrong…

    More to the point and on-topic, though, I actually read the majority of the Houston Chronicle article and that definitely made me want to punch things. And all of these people who experience hate crimes… They make me really proud to be in the same acronym-community, because they can stand up and take it, and they are all doing so with grace and tenacity.

    Wait, seriously, how is this sort of courage under fire NOT an admirable thing to anyone else? Why does “They’re gay so they’re always wrong” end up as the trump card?

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    So many Americans are unamerican, and the republican/conservative/religious side is only becoming moreso.

    Most apparently have never read the declaration of independence, or the universal declaration of human rights.

    “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Words are usually unable to sufficiently express my feelings of disappointment and/or disgust in regards to most of the human race, and they are this time as well.

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    A few days ago, my girlfriend and I were on the subway and out of nowhere some crazy lady started screaming at us, saying we’d stepped on her foot, and when we ignored her she kept screaming about us being damn lesbians and then she was like, “That’s right, you can’t do anything to me, you’re just a couple of cowards,” and then she tried to stomp on my girlfriend’s foot. She was clearly hoping to provoke us into retaliating so that she could attack us.

    My girlfriend wears steel toed boots, of course, but it’s knowing that if she had attacked us and we fought back, no jury would have been sympathetic to us.

    I can’t believe people think that New York is a “good place to be gay.” No place in the world is a good place to be gay.

    I have been in a foul rage ever since then. I hate all of humanity, so very much.

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    I am so amazingly lucky in that I have never once encountered homophobia. But sometimes it makes me forget just how much tragedy and injustice goes on. In fact, last night, I was with some gay male friends for bonfire night (UK) and one of them was saying to me how much he wished he could just stand holding his boyfriend. He didn’t because was worried about getting them both beaten up. It saddens me so that people should even have to think about that, let alone go through anything like the events mentioned here.

    Sometimes I really wish I could meet some homophobic people so that I could give them a piece of my mind. There is no rational justification for homophobia. But I am starting to get involved with my LGBT society at university, so I really look forward to the upcoming campaigns.

    I am so very fortunate in my life. I would never choose to be heterosexual, just because of the amazing community of the gay scene. Some of my straight friends are genuinely jealous of what we have. I only wish that everyone could experience this.

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    fyi – it’s still illegal in canada for gay men (or any man who’s had sex with a man) to donate blood.(http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/gay-men-allowed-to-give-blood-129515063.html for more info)

    i had a nasty convo with the rep from cdn blood services the other day when they called to solicit donations…ooh did i pull out some $60 words on that one. and unsurprisingly when i investigated their website, there is no mention of this policy anywhere except a vague reference in the donor FAQ about how it’s not discriminatory because “donor screening procedures are exclusionary—they exclude people who are at risk of diseases transmissible by blood.” what a load of bullshit. absolutely everyone is at risk of transmitting diseases by blood, and all the blood is rigorously tested anyway, and not everyone knows their HIV status, and by this logic, if we’re going to exclude gay men then we ought also to exclude other people who are at higher risk for blood borne illnesses (which basically means anyone and everyone whose health is compromised by the social determinants of health).

    GRRRRR! not discriminatory my ass. i could go on but i am feeling angry and am having trouble being articulate.

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    While I know every country has it’s problems, I can only hope for my sake and the sake of my children that there is someplace accessible to us in which the hatred and bigotry is not quite as present in the everyday lives of its citizens as it is here in the USA. By no means do we have it the worst here, but to be such a developed and large country and still to be so.. i cant even thing of a word I feel comfortable putting here, its disheartening to say the least.

    —-({*})—-
    For Women.
    For the Love of Women.

    http://www.VulvaLoveLovely.com

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