The Struggles Of Being Gay In America

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The Struggles of Being Gay in America
Erin Sterner
COM 172
August 12, 2014
Suzanne Mahler
The Struggles of Being Gay in America Mark Carson, Matthew Shepard, Aaron Webster, and Roberto Duncanson, are names from a very long list of anti-gay crime victims who defied a fearful community, and lost their lives for it. Carson, Shepard, Webster, and Duncanson were all victims of horrendous crimes that prematurely ended their lives. For some, homosexual relationships may not be considered natural or normal, however, it is every American’s constitutional right to choose his/her own lifestyle Shelly Reese (1997) reports, that in 1996, middle school student, Jamie Nabozny was awarded nearly $1 million after being urinated on, physically assaulted, verbally harassed, and forced to endure an enactment of rape. These despicable acts were reported to school administrators, but were ignored. Failure to take action was a blatant violation of Jamie’s civil rights and this assault on individual rights is repeated throughout the world. Fear, discrimination, and inadequate legal protection are some of the challenges faced by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, placing them at an increased risk of becoming victims of anti-gay crimes (gay-bashing). Fear is a significant aspect of society, particularly towards those with alternative sexual lifestyles. Members of society who are not knowledgeable about the LGBT community have a fear of the unknown, and often times, allow ignorance to be the driving force behind antic-gay crimes. At the same time, members of the gay community fear gay repercussions they might encounter in public, at work, school, or home, if exposed. Social exile, alienation, isolation, and physical assault are possible reactions that it worries about, if exposed. For gay youth, trying to understand where they fit in or why they are attracted to members of the same sex can be confusing. They often times feel alone, awkward, or different: like there is no one they can talk to. Experiencing emotional distress can drastically alter their paths in life. Norma Jean Bailey (2003), a professor at Central Michigan University, estimates 28% of LGBT students drop out of school because of antagonistic circumstances. Reese also reports, that in 1989, a study performed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services found that experiencing antagonistic circumstances makes gay and lesbian youth three and a half times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual youth. Information gained from researching the topic of gay-bashing is alarming. Where is the “equality” in “equal rights”? Although there are many groups and organizations that promote anti-gay teachings, the number of groups in support of the gay and lesbian continue to grow. As silence is broken amongst the gay community, more victims are stepping up and telling their stories. With help from the media, these stories are being heard around the world; politicians, prominent religious leaders, military officials, friends and family members of gays are coming together in support of the LGBT community. One organization, the Lamda Legal Defense and Education Fund, has taken the initiative to prepare an informative manual. This Manual, Stoppin Anti-Gay abuse of Students in Public Schools: A Legal Perspective, apprises parents, teachers, and students about the legal rights of gays. Another, more prominent, group is PFLAG National: Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. PFLAG was founded in 1972 by Jeanne Manford, a mother who chose to publicly support her gay son. This organization offers many programs and resources to the LGBT. Amongst those services are scholarships to gay and lesbian students: so they can become productive citizens and give back to the LGBT community. These are the types of groups needed to help end sexual orientation discrimination and gain liberty and equality for the LGBT community. In 1993, president of