‘Gay’ Bullying and Suicides

Daniel, 11

Tyrone, 13


These are two boys who committed suicide after bullied for ‘being gay’.


What exactly does it mean to be ‘gay’. Is a ‘gay’ person effeminate? Or does a ‘gay’ person have sexual desires towards another person of the same gender?


In the first article, it was never mentioned that the boy was attracted to males. In fact, he only became confused and tried to figure out his sexuality after being called ‘gay’ continuously by his peers, and only then did he identify himself as ‘gay’.


The article mentioned that the boy, Daniel, was effeminate. He probably exhibited certain stereotypical traits the society associated with being ‘girly’, perhaps in his speech and mannerisms. Just like in chapter four of Language and Sexuality by Deborah Cameron and Don Kulick, there are certain characteristics of ‘gay talk’, such as higher pitch, uptalk, or the phonological stress on the consonants ‘s’ and ‘t’.


He liked cheerleading and gymnastics, and there was nothing wrong with that, except that the social stereotypes identified those activities as ‘girly’, and it was socially marked for a male to enjoy them. But this doesn’t mean that Daniel identified himself as a female. Just like the video we watched in class of the young girl talking about gender stereotypes for toys, who determined that males cannot like Barbie dolls and cooking? And why is it more okay for girls to like cars and dinosaurs than for boys to like dolls? As we have discussed in class, the ‘male’ behaviour in society is unmarked, and the ‘female’ behaviour is marked, and a marked behaviour from an unmarked identity is more easily observed and criticized than if it were vice versa.


We also see that being labelled as ‘gay’ puts a person in a lower social stratum. The article started by saying that Daniel grew up thinking that he was a ‘bad’ person. Why was being ‘gay’ bad? Was it because gay marriage was yet to be legalized in his growing up years? I feel that it was more likely that it was because it was not the ‘norm’ for males to be sexually attracted to males. In week six’s lesson, we discussed that being ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ meant that you have failed your gender roles, making them fall in the social hierarchy. The terms ‘gay’ and ‘loser’ often came together, forming the societal perception that you were a loser if you were gay.


Boys who were deemed as ‘gay’ often receive the same kind of treatments from their peers. In the second article, another Australian boy who also committed suicide was also called names and was socially outcasted. The Australian boy, Tyrone, was even attacked physically, and was so badly injured that he required surgery. It is highly likely that Tyrone did nothing to warrant such beatings from his peers. What his bullies did could have been what we know as homosexual panic defense, a reaction, or rather, excuse, that people have to use violence on homosexuals out of fear. It is rather bizarre to me that it is deemed socially acceptable for these ‘gay’ boys to receive such harsh treatments solely because of their sexuality or effeminate behaviours, even if they may not really be attracted to the same sex. As discussed in week four’s lesson, the violence used against them are often the bullies trying to reaffirm their own masculinity by bringing other males down.


I feel that there is much to be done in the society to prevent such unfortunate happenings. In the two cases presented in the articles, both schools were aware of the bullying going on, yet nothing was done to help the bullied boys. In my opinion, the institution’s reactions and way of handling such matters play a huge role in changing society’s attitudes and behaviours towards homosexuals.