Anti-gay bulling has increased over the years. There are more gays and lesbians committing suicide as a result. Asher Brown, a 13-year-old Houston, Texas teen committed suicide because he could not take the daily ridiculing of being bullied at school for years. Asher was being picked on because his classmates assumed he was gay. They also made fun of him because of his size, his religion, and because he did not wear name brand clothing and shoes. Some of his classmates went as far as performing mock gay acts on him in physical education.
His parents had complained about the bullying to Hamilton Middle School officials during the past 18 months, but no one listened to their concerns. He was ridiculed the day before his suicide when another student tripped him as he walked down a flight of stairs at his school. The other student then kicked his books everywhere and kicked him down the stairs. On the morning of his suicide he told his father that he was gay. Asher was found dead that afternoon on the floor of his stepfather’s closet after shooting himself (O’Hare, 2010). There are a few stereotypes about gays.
One of the stereotypes is that gay people want everyone else to have their same sexual orientation. There are others that are just ignorant because people think that you are gay because you are friends with someone who is gay and you will become gay. Another stereotype is that gay people will give you AIDS. These stereotypes are perpetuated through learned behavior. Most of these children that teased Asher learned about these things from society. They hear adults, other children, and even television shows that portray these stereotypes in gays.
Children tend to learn their beliefs from those that are closest like their parents and siblings. Those same children take those beliefs to school and share them with their friends. Stereotypes are not transmitted through parental influence and through peer Anti-Gay Bullying 3 discussion and pressure. It is difficult to determine who is responsible for the perpetuation of stereotypes because most beliefs can be traced back for generations. Something that may begin as a bad experience for one ends in a shared family belief. The media can also our beliefs about stereotypes.
It is hard to determine whether or not public opinion shapes the views of the media or whether the media shapes pubic opinion. It could possibly be both. There are multiple television shows that portray gay characters but there one cartoon that stinks in my mind. The Simpsons is a show that stereotype gays because the image of Waylon Smithers. Waylon Smithers is a regular character on the hit animated series, The Simpsons. Waylon is the assistant to C. Montgomery Burns, Homer Simpson’s boss and the owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.
Waylon is typically referred to as Mr. Smithers, or simply Smithers by Mr. Burns. On the Simpsons, Waylon Smithers plays the role of the stereotypical gay male who is still in the closet. Even though he has not declared himself gay he has several gay friends, he goes on vacation to a male only resort, and many of his fantasies of Mr. Burns have been revealed by his computer. Smither knows that the people in his town would turn on him if he ever disclosed his sexuality. He is afraid of losing the respect of those that are close to him.
Instead of looking at Asher as a person, his classmates only saw him as a gay and poor teenager. They all acted on their hatred and fear for homosexuality. Studies show that school-related experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young adults between the ages of 21 and 25 reports higher levels of depression and decreased life satisfaction (Freeman, 2010). Our society is responsible for influencing his classmates to believe stereotypes about gays who Anti-Gay Bullying 4 harassed Asher repeatedly for years and up until the day before his death.
It is certain that stereotypes still persist in modern culture. It is not entirely possible to rid our culture of stereotypes. Hopefully in years to come, this world will evolve and society will look at everyone as being equal. Self preservation will always come first and part of preserving ourselves sometimes means identifying others that are weaker than us based on perceptions. Perception is never completely reality; we will find ourselves relying on stereotypes to classify those we need to fight against to survive. It is very unlikely that stereotypes will ever disappear.