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An updated interim paper prepared in support of a Poster Presentation with the same name at the 2004 CASP (Canadian Association For Suicide Prevention) Conference held in Edmonton, Alberta. Original Paper. Authors: Pierre Tremblay & Richard Ramsay



Anti-Gay Harassment: Masculinity, the Feminine "Other," and Elevated Rates Of Suicidality


There are media and research reports that GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) individuals in society and public schools experience high levels of anti-gay harassment, abuses, and violence (e.g., Herek and Berrill, 1992; Hershberger and D'Augelli, 1995; Human Rights Watch, 2001). These reports may lead people to believe that only GLBT people experience anti-gay harassment however, this assumption would be incorrect. Adolescents targeted for anti-gay harassment in public schools, for example, are mostly assumed to be homosexual. This is evident from many GLB youth descriptions about their lives in public schools where they felt alone and fearful of being hated if others were ever to discover their secret, and had no one to talk to about their homosexual feelings, desires and problems. They usually did not know of peers who were gay or lesbian in their school or neighbourhoods, although a few individuals may have been suspected, especially if they manifested gender nonconformable attributes. As reported in a Canadian Public Health Association study of youth living in large to small cities, "GLB youth almost universally experience a sense of isolation… [that happens to be] the most relentless feature in the lives of most gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. And the isolation is more profound than simply social and physical: it is also emotional and cognitive" (CPHA, 1998: 4-5). The fact that anti-gay harassment is generally directed at adolescents assumed to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual is highlighted in the 1995 Seattle Youth Risk Behavior Survey data (Table 12).
 
 

Table 12 - 1995 Seattle Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Grade 9 - 12
Adolescent Male Suicidality Results Based on Sexual Identity &
Being / Not-Being Targeted For Anti-Gay Harassment*
Group ®
Suicidality
Categories
Heterosexual Not Targeted
N = 3219
87.6% of 
Males
Heterosexual
Targeted
N = 125
3.4% of 
Males
"Not Sure"
Not Targeted
N = 191
5.2% of 
Males
"Not Sure"
Targeted
N = 24
0.65% of 
Males
GB Males
Not Targeted
N = 90
2.4% of 
Males
GB Males
Targeted
N = 36
0.98% of 
Males
Attempted
Suicide*
Risk Ratios 1
4.3%
140 / 3219
16.0%
20 / 125
2.4<3.7<5.7
11.0%
21 / 191
1.6<2.5<3.9
29.2%
7 / 24
3.5<6.7<12.7
20.0%
18 / 90
3.0<4.6<7.1
19.4%
7 / 36
2.2<4.5<8.9
Percentage of
Suicide Attempters
65.7%
140 / 213
9.4%
20 / 213
9.8%
21 / 213
3.3%
7 / 213
8.4%
18 / 213
3.3%
7 / 213
Attempt(s) with
Medical Attention
Risk Ratios 1
1.4%
45 / 3197
6.6%
8 / 122
2.2<4.7<9.7
2.6%
5 / 192
.74<1.8<4.6 ns
4.2%
1/24
.42<3.0<20ns
11.0%
10 / 91
4.1<7.8<15.0
11.4%
4 / 35
3.1<8.1<21
Percentage of
Suicide Attempters /Medical Attention
61.6%
45 / 73
11.0%
8 / 73
13.7%
5 / 73
1.4%
1 / 73
13.7%
10 / 73
5.5%
4 / 73
Percent of Group Targeted: Anti-Gay Harassment
3.7% (125 / 3344)
11.2% (24 / 215) 2
RR = 2.0<3.0<4.5
c2 = 27.7, p< 0.0000
28.6% (36 / 126) 2
RR 5.5<7.6<10.6
c2 = 169.0, p < 0.0000
*Attempted suicide incidence in the past 12 months by heterosexual, gay (G), and bisexual (B) adolescent males who were or were not the "target of offensive comments or attacks" related to their presumed homosexual orientation at school or on the way to school. "Attempt(s) with Medical Attention" means one or more suicide attempts associated with having received medical attention. Saewyc (2002) made the data on males available. N (Males) = 4151. N (Males answering both "Sexual Orientation" and "Suicide Attempt" questions) = 3685, or 88.8% of males.

Ethic Composition of Study Sample: 34% European-American, 26% Asian American, 18% African-American, 1% American Indian, 14% multi-ethnic, and 3% other. Respondents were evenly distributed from Grades 9 to 12. Almost equal numbers of males and females (Saewyc, 2000). This sample of adolescents is therefore anomalous, when compared to the general U.S. population in that only about 20 percent of the American population would not have European ancestry, referred to as being "White." White people form about 80% of the population.

1. Risk Ratios are calculated with a 95% Confidence Interval by Pierre Tremblay. They represent comparisons with "not targeted" heterosexual male values for the Row Variable. "ns" = not significant.

2. Risk Ratios (95% Confidence Intervals), compared to Heterosexual males. For GB Males compared to "Unsure" males: RR = 1.6<2.6<4.1, c2 = 16.6, p < 0.0000.

The 1995 Seattle YRBS results indicate that 5.0 percent of adolescent males (185/3685) are targeted for anti-gay harassment in schools or on the way to school and that GB (gay and bisexual) males account for only 19.4% of all males targeted (36/185). This represents 28.6 percent of all GB males (36/126). "Heterosexual" adolescent males, and those "Unsure" about their sexual orientation account for 67.6 (125/185) and 13.0 (24/185) percent of males reporting anti-gay harassment respectively, thus representing 80.6 percent of males targeted for anti-gay harassment. This is fairly conclusive evidence that the vast majority of males (80.6%) subjected to anti-gay harassment are not "known" to be homosexual, but are "presumed" to be so. The same would likely apply for most GB adolescent males similarly harassed. The attempted suicide rate (12 month period) for heterosexual males targeted for anti-gay harassment (16.0%) is almost equal to that of GB males targeted (19.4%) or not targeted (20.0%) for anti-gay harassment, compared to a much lower rate (4.3%) for heterosexual males not targeted for such harassment. These estimates suggest that anti-gay harassment / abuse is associated with significant distress for these males, resulting in an almost quadrupled attempted suicide rate, compared to heterosexual males not assumed to be gay and not harassed for this reason (RR, 95%CI = 2.4<3.7<5.7).

Some research reports state that the experience of harassment/victimisation is not implicated in higher levels of suicidality for GLB youth (Hershberger and D'Augelli, 1995), but others report there is an association (Nicholas and Howard, 1998; 2001). The Seattle results support the former proposition given that antigay harassment does not appear to be associated with GB males attempting suicide since those targeted or not targeted for harassment have similar suicide attempt rates: 19.4 and 20.0 percent, respectively. This conclusion, however, could be an "assumption" based on a lack of knowledge concerning "all" the factors that would/could be implicated in GB male youth suicidality. For example, varied sources of information (e.g. GB youth themselves and writings on the Internet) have led to the suspicion that closeted GB youth could be negatively affected when they are witnessing others targeted for anti-gay abuse. Some of these youth would also experience much guilt and self-reprimands given that they feared intervening because others might then suspect one's own homosexual orientation that ostracism and abuses would likely result. Such behaviour, however, could easily lead one to think that he is, in fact, living up to the "wimp" gay stereotype, including not having courage or integrity. This suspicion is documented in a Master's thesis study (N = 329) on mostly white South African gay and bisexual males (Theuninck, 2000). A request was made to Anthony Theuninck for comments on the Seattle results in relation to his study that had explored factors associated with gay males attempting suicide for reasons related to their homosexuality.

"What could account for these vulnerabilities to suicide? It must be remembered that many factors are associated with youth suicidality, of which gay-related stressors may form an important part, especially for males. In the case of male youth exposed to anti-gay abuse, the gay-related stressor is clear, namely an external source of threat and harm that is experienced because one is associated with homosexuality (accurately or not). But this leaves the question as to why gay youth who have not been exposed to anti-gay harassment show a similar suicide attempt incidences.

A possible explanation may lie in findings from my research in which a correlational matrix of gay-related stressors caused two covariance groups to emerge that can be labelled as internal and external stressors (Theuninck 2000). External stressors include events that occur largely independent of a person's perception of them such as physical and verbal violation. Internal stressors included internalised homophobia and the perception of stigma (i.e. perceiving society as discriminating against gay people). These stressors rely on an internalisation of societal norms and threats. Through internalised homophobia the person adopts the beliefs that homosexuality is not legitimate, that it is a sickness, moral weakness, defect, or some such deformation of self. This may lead to intense self-loathing related to having same-sex desires.

Through stigma the person learns that society is hostile to homosexuality and poses a threat to those so identified. Such a stressor creates an overall context of fear in which a person may fear his/her sexuality will be known, or may fear and live in trepidation of the ever present possibility of being attacked or discriminated against in the course of daily life. Such stressors could account for suicidal tendencies in people identified as homosexual or bisexual but have not been exposed to overt external stressors such as anti-gay harassment.

Even in cases where anti-gay harassment is experienced, it could be argued that the more pernicious stressor is the internal stressors, and more specifically internalised homophobia. In my research I examined the regression relationship of minority stressors and traumatic stress symptoms with gay-related suicidality (i.e. thinking about or attempting to commit suicide because one has homosexual desires). The stressors that associated most strongly with gay-related suicidality were internalised homophobia, followed by witnessed gay victimisation and negative fundamental beliefs. By negative fundamental beliefs is meant those beliefs that are essential to maintaining the coherence of self as defined by the works of McCann and Pearlman (1990).

Where homophobia has become internalised, where a person has colluded in victimisation of other gays, by taking part or standing by, in these cases it seems that the stress of the "gay scourge" becomes more pernicious. The evil is within the individual. The person's sense of self comes under direct assault by himself. His fundamental beliefs about being good, in control, safe in the world, and trustworthy start to untangle, for he is his worst enemy. His gayness becomes the source of torture, rather than seeing the external world as torturous of his sexuality. Under these circumstances he is more likely to have thoughts about killing himself for having gay urges and also attempt suicide." (Theuninck, 2002)

In a world where homophobia and related abuses are widespread, and where what Theuninck describes seems to apply (even in South Africa), it is therefore not surprising that the 1995 Seattle data suggests that significant associations exist between homosexuality issues and youth suicidality. In fact, 34.5 percent of the adolescent males reporting suicide attempts, and 38.2 percent of those reporting suicide attempt associated with receiving medical attention are reporting that "homosexuality issues" are part of their lives, or that "homosexuality issues" may be a part of their lives. These "at risk" adolescent males are:
1. Self-identified as gay or bisexual males who are or are not targeted for anti-gay harassment, the latter likely being in the closet and also suffering from feelings of isolation (CPHA, 1998). They would also be witnessing anti-gay harassment on a day to day basis with likely negative effects (Theuninck, 2000, 2002). Their 7.6 times greater risk for experiencing anti-gay harassment compared to heterosexual males (RR, 95%CI = 5.5<7.6<10.6; c2= 169.2, p < .0000) suggests that they may have the highest level of gender nonconformity in the three "sexual orientation" categories. As a group, they are at significantly greater risk for a suicide attempt compared heterosexual males: RR, 95%CI = 2.8<4.1<6.1; c2= 54.5, p < .0000. They are also at much greater risk for a suicide attempt associated with receiving medical attention, compared to heterosexual males: RR, 95%CI = 4.0<7.0<12.2; c2= 57.6, p < .0000.

2. Males who are "unsure" about their sexual orientation, as in not claiming to be heterosexual, likely includes males who suspect that they are gay or bisexual and are troubled by this possibility. Their 3 times greater risk for experiencing anti-gay harassment compared to heterosexual males (RR, 95%CI = 1.9<3.0<4.5; c2= 27.7, p < .0000) suggests that higher level of gender nonconformity may exist for these males, compared to heterosexual males. In this group, individuals targeted for anti-gay harassment are at significantly higher risk for a suicide attempt than their non-targeted counterparts: RR, 95%CI = 1.3<2.6<5.6; c2= 6.2, p = .013. They are also, as a group, at significantly higher risk for a suicide attempt than heterosexual males: RR, 95%CI = 1.9<2.7<4.0; c2= 27.4, p < .0000.

3. Males who report being heterosexual identified but, because they are suspected / believed to be homosexual, they are being harassed / abused accordingly. They are at significantly higher risk for a suicide attempt than their non-targeted counterparts: RR, 95%CI = 2.3<3.7<5.7; c2= 35.8, p < .0000. The same applies for suicide attempt(s) associated with receiving medical care: RR, 95%CI = 2.2<4.7<9.7; c2= 19.8, p < .0000.

These "at risk" adolescent life situations could also be called "the homosexuality factor in youth suicide problems," and the above percentage estimates indicate that this "homosexuality factor" would rival any variable previously proposed to "predict" (in statistical language as related to regression analyses) "attempting suicide" in the youth population. If "the homosexuality factor" that generally only includes gay and bisexual males (however determined) was to include all males targeted for anti-gay harassment ("unsure" males would be on the heterosexual side of the equation), the "homosexuality factor" would be directly associated with 24.4 percent of suicide attempters. For males who reported a suicide attempt(s) associated with receiving medical care, a 31.5 percent representation would apply.

The Seattle study raised several important questions about the homosexuality factor: Why are so many heterosexual adolescents reporting that they are assumed to be homosexual and are being harassed accordingly? What kind of criteria are adolescents using to make such a determination? These questions have received minimal research attention as the answer for most is "obvious." Therefore its seems that researchers have not wanted to know, or have confirmed by quantitative studies, exactly how adolescents or adults arrive at the suspicion/assumption that an individual is homosexual. Only one exception was located. In Lyon, France, Daniel Welzer-Lang and Pierre Dutey did ask about 500 adults, via a questionnaire, if they had ever encountered individuals in public places that they suspected to be homosexual and, if so, what was the criteria used to make such a determination. Ninety-five percent of adults reported having made such determination and 90 percent of them assumed that the question only applied for males, but the question had been gender non-specific. The most common criteria used to suspect that a male was homosexual were manifestations of feminisation: how an individual dressed, gestures, and the way the individual talked They also noted that these homosexual male stereotypes have been the rule in the media in France (Welzer-Lang, 1994: 40-1).

It would therefore seem that "the obvious" with respect to homosexuality remains unstudied. Most researcher of school "bullying" (the term most commonly used to speak about verbal, emotional, and/or physical abuse in schools) also have a history of not investigating socially constructed attributes, such as homophobia and sexism, that may be implicated in the bullying experienced by children and adolescents. Percy-Smith and Matthews (2001) speak to this:

"In contemporary social construction, bullying is increasingly seen as a problem. Yet a paradox exists in that, for example, the systematic abuse of power has, throughout history, characterised many processes of social interaction, for instance in the workplace by bosses, by teachers in schools or by parents in the home, and continues to do so in some cases. To this extent, bullying is a culturally and historically bound concept varying according to individual as well as dominant social assumptions of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour… Swain (1998) suggests that any act of bullying involves dominance and subordination. Bullying can therefore occur whenever an unequal power differential, perceived or real, exists. This could be according to physical size, intellect, age, ability, sexuality, race, class, gender, culture, knowledge, status, force of personality, or brute force… These perspective are not designed to provide a definitive statement about what constitutes bullying, but rather seek to underline the dilemma of understanding and responding to bullying as a social phenomenon" (p. 51).
Others have also been critical of "school bullying" research:
"However, anti-racist education in Britain has not been well served by researchers into bullying in schools. Loach and Bloor (1995) even argue that anti-bullying work is itself racist - including racism, sexism, homophobia, and other 'isms' - can be hidden. To focus on the overt aspects of bullying behaviour, they claim, is to ignore the background dynamics of personal and social relationships, which means that the behaviour can never really be understood. How valid is this criticism?" (Eslea and Mukhtar, 2000: 208)
The criticism appears justified, especially with respect to homophobia. The research reports in this section will support this proposition. The same, however, would likely apply for all the socially constructed 'isms' that have been documented in human history, such as racism and sexism, that are associated with the widespread abuses of others deemed to be "different" from oneself. For example, Canadian women were only defined to be "persons" in law in 1929, but they had to wait until the early 1980s before Canadian men lost their legal right to rape their wives. Being abused is not conducive to one's happiness and it is likely that abused individuals would be at risk for many problems, beyond the more immediate harmful results of being abused. In schools, for example, the extended negative outcomes of bullying have been highlighted in several articles. Their titles tell the story: "Bullying and student distress: beneath the tip of the iceberg" (Branwhite, 1994), "Bullying in schools: self-reported anxiety, depression, and self-esteem in secondary school children" (Salmon and James, 1998), "Bullying, depression, and suicidal ideation in Finnish adolescents: school survey" (Kaltiala-Heino et al., 1999), Student victimisation at school" (Nolin et al., 1996), and "Bullied to death: perceptions of peer abuse and suicidal behaviour during adolescence" (Carney, 2000). A meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies on peer victimisation in childhood and adolescence reported that "peer victimisation was most strongly related to depression." The results strongly suggest that "victims of peer aggression experience more negative affect, and negative thoughts about themselves, than other children" (Hawker and Boulton, 1999: 441, 451).

Hawker and Boulton also noted a number of methodological problems in the studies of school bullying. Surprisingly with respect to suicide problems associated with this kind of victimisation (e.g, Rigby, 1996), they state: "Data concerning unhappiness and suicidal ideation are not included in Table 3, as there was an abundance of studies which used well-validated measures of depression…" (447). This comment indicates that many bully interested researchers somehow believe that measures of depression will suffice when exploring the negative effects of peer victimisation (possibly because depression is often said to be associated with suicidality) and that suicidality measures, such as attempting suicide can therefore be ignored. Fortunately, the authors did attribute an importance to the "variables such as disability, age, gender, and sexual orientation," but only because "it would be valuable to investigate [their] moderating effects on victims' adjustment." A need for "studies of children from cultural backgrounds that are not Scandinavian or English-speaking" was mentioned, but only because most of the bullying research has included only these groups (453). Although such recommendations advocate for an expansion of the existing knowledge about school bullying, they likely fall short with respect to venturing where one must go to better understand these problems.

To date, researchers have failed to explore how peer related harassment / bullying / victimisation is related to one's minority ethnic status. They have also not explored sexual orientation issues such as the highly stigmatised homosexuality that is implied when male children and adolescents are manifesting some degree of femininity. Unwanted "sexual touching" that may occur in schools and elsewhere is certainly a form of harassment and victimisation, but mainstream researchers of bullying in childhood and adolescence have generally ignored this issue, and the same applies for "forced sexual intercourse" that is certainly a form of victimisation. Is it possible that such serious sexual assaults, if inflicted on a male by another male, could also come under the rubric "targeted for anti-gay victimisation" that has been so prevalent in schools and elsewhere? A recent Internet study indicates that, for self-identified American gay and bisexual males ranging in age from 13 to 18 years, "forced sexual acts" are in many cases inflicted on them because, as it was specified in the questionnaire, "you are, or were thought to be, queer?" Out of the 1,763 gay and bisexual adolescents who responded to this question, 7.3 percent replied in the affirmative to having been harassed in this way, but many more have been harassed in other ways (Table 13). "Forced sexual intercourse" would be a subset of "forced sexual acts," and it would be the equivalent of rape. As the results listed in Table 13, indicate, self-identified gay and bisexual youth experience high levels of harassment in their lives ranging from verbal abuse (63.8%) to being physical assaulted (11.1%) and also being threatened with a weapon (4.7%), and most of these are associated with increased levels of suicidality.
 
 

Table 13 - OutProud Internet Survey 2000
Gay / Bisexual Adolescent Males - N = 1226*
Harassment and Suicidality Statistical Results
Suicidality /
Harassment
Variables
Attempted
Suicide
[28.1%] 27.0%
Multiple
Attempts
[15.1%] 14.3%
Attempt(s)
Medical 
[7.8%] 7.3%
Multiple /
Medical
[18.8%] 17.9%
Verbal Abuse
[63.8%] 70.1% 
31.7% - 0.168 c
1.8<2.6<3.6
17.4% - 0.142 a
1.8<3.0<4.8
8.7% - 0.087 b
1.3<2.4<4.6
21.7% - 0.154 a
1.9<2.9<4.4
Threatened Physical
[26.4%] 32.7% 
41.9% - 0.235 a
2.2<2.9<3.9
24.5% - 0.202 a
2.2<3.1<4.4
13.4% - 0.164 a
2.1<3.4<5.5
30.5% - 0.229 a
2.4<3.4<4.5
Objects Thrown
[17.3%] 22.4%
43.1% - 0.196 a
2.0<2.6<3.6
25.5% - 0.175a
1.9<2.8<4.0
13.4% - 0.128 a
1.6<2.7<4.3
32.2% - 0.204 a
2.2<3.0<4.2
Assaulted Physical
[11.1%] 14.2%
47.7% - 0.192 a
2.1<3.0<4.3
30.1% - 0.186 a
2.2<3.3<4.9
17.1% - 0.156 a
2.1<3.5<5.8
35.3% - 0.188 a
2.2<3.1<4.6
Threatened / Weapon
[4.7%] 6.2%
65.2% - 0.222 a
3.4<5.8<9.8
45.5% - 0.229 a
3.6<6.0<10.1
31.8% - 0.244 a
4.4<7.9<14.1
54.5% - 0.247 a
4.0<6.6<11.1
Forced Sexual Acts
[7.3%] 7.4%
43.0% - 0.103 b
1.4<2.2<3.5
30.4% - 0.130 a
1.8<2.9<4.9
16.5% - 0.101 b
1.5<2.8<5.4
35.4% - 0.130 a
1.7<2.8<4.6
Threatened Outing
[30.8%] 36.0%
35.8% - 0.149 a
1.5<2.0<2.6
19.7% - 0.116 a
1.4<1.9<2.7
9.1% - 0.055 ns
.96<1.5<2.4
24.9% - 0.139 a
1.5<2.1<2.8
*The Sample: Out of 1,967 gay and bisexual males ranging in age from 13 to 18 years who ventured into beginning to answer the very long questionnaire, 1,226 males (White = 973, Of Colour = 253 = 20.6% of males) answered both the suicidality questions and at least one of the harassment questions. See Note 18 for additional information.

Suicidality Variables: Have you ever tried to kill yourself? [Yes = "Attempted Suicide"]. How many times have you tried to kill yourself? [More than once = "Multiple Attempts"]. If a suicide attempt resulted in a visit to a hospital, how long were you in the hospital (for the attempt that received the most care)? [All responders = Attempt / Medical"]. The "Multiple / Medical" variable for formed by combining the previous two variables. It is an indicator of ongoing suicide problems and/or severity of one or more suicide attempt. Variable Incidence for the respondents who answered the suicidality and harassment questions: 27.0%. Incidence for all responding to the suicidality question [28.1%].

Harassment Variables: How many times "______" because you are, or were thought to be, queer? (Possible Responses: never, once, twice, three or more times): "have you been insulted (yelled at, criticized)" - "have you been threatened with physical violence" - "have you had an object thrown at you" - "have you been punched, kicked or beaten" - "have you been threatened with a knife, gun or another weapon" - "have you been attacked sexually (forced to have a sexual experience, raped)" - "someone threatened to tell someone else that you are queer?" Variables are constructed on the basis of males reported experiencing such harassment one or more times. Variable Incidence for respondents who answered the harassment and suicidality questions: 70.1%. Incidence for all respondents who answered the harassment question: [63.8%].

Data Reporting: Crosstabs - 2X2 Tables - Specified Harassment & Suicidality Variable Intersection - Incidence of suicidality variable in harassment category: 31.7%. Correlation: 0.168 c. & Odds Ratio = 2.6, 95% Confidence Interval (1.8 to 3.6): 1.8<2.6<3.6. Statistical Significance: a (p £ .001), b (p £ .01, > .000), c (p < .05, > .01), ns (Non Significant).

The harassment of gay and bisexual males ocurs in varied forms and, as the result of the 1995 Seatlle Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates (Table 12), they are not he only adolescent males subjected to anti-gay harassment. Of the 185 males reporting anti-gay harassment (5.2% of males), 19.4 percent (36/185) were gay/bisexual identified, 13.0% (24/185) were unsure about their sexual orientation, and about two-thirds (67.6%: 125/185) were heterosexual identified. The incidence for attempting suicide by males subjected to anti-gay harassment and those not subjected to this harassment was 18.4% and 5.3%, producing an Odds Ratio of 4.0, 95% CI = 2.7-6.0, p = .0000. This Odd Ratio for "attempted suicide" is similar to the one produced from an analyis of all males in the 1999 Oregon Youth Risk Behavior data set by the authors (Table 14): 4.0<5.1<6.5, p < .000.

In 2001, with the objective of exploring some forms of harassment generally ignored by many researchers, and especially with the objective of exploring associations with suicide behaviors that generally represent high level of distress, we acquired the 1999 Oregon Youth Risk Behavior data set. basic The basic statistical data related to ant-/gay harassment is presented on the basis of race / ethnicity in Table 14 and Table 15. The analysis was accomplished by using the SPSS 10 statistical program and recoding the six race / ethnicity variables (self-identification by study subjects) to produce four (4) combined and seven (7) more discrete "race / ethnic" categories for analysis. These groups are:
 
 

1. All Males 5. Non-Respondent** 9. Hispanic / Latino
2. Of Colour 6. White 10. Asian
3. Of Colour-1 (One race) 7. Aboriginal*** 11. Hawaiian / Pacific Islander
4. Multi-Race / Ethnicity* 8. Black / African American

*Reporting Identification With 2 or More Races: # 6 to 11.
**to the race / ethnicity question - *** Includes American Indian & Alaska Native: Native Americans



For these 11 groups of males, results were generated for the relationships between school related "Anti-Gay Harassment" (harassment because one is presumed to be gay or bisexual) and five "suicidality" variables reported to have occurred over the past 12 months:
 
 

·Seriously Considered Suicide ·Suicide Attempt(s) Resulted in
Receiving Medical Attention

· Attempted Suicide More than Once
and/or Suicide Attempt(s) Resulted
in Receiving Medical Attention

·Attempted Suicide at Least Once
·Attempted Suicide More than Once

 
 
Table 14 - 1999 Oregon Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Grade 9-12 Males
Anti-Gay Harassment & Suicidality In Race Categories
Generally At Greater Risk For More Serious Suicidality
Race
Groups à
/ Suicidality
All Males 1
N = 11,316
8.0%
White
N = 9,109
7.7%
Of Colour
N = 2,048
9.1%
Of Colour-1
N = 1,666
8.1%
Multi-Race
N = 282
12.8%
Non-Resp.
N = 160
14.1%
Seriously
Considered
Suicide
27.0% v 9.7% 2
214 v 1007  .15a
2.9<3.4<4.0
25.9% v 9.4%
178 v 784  .14a
2.8<3.4<4.1
30.6% v 11.4%
56 v 211 .162a
2.4<3.4<4.8
28.8% v 10.7%
38 v 162 . 150a
2.2<3.4<5.1
36.5% v 15.0%
19 v 49  .193a
1.7<3.3<6.2
33.3% v 9.1%
7 v 12   .253b
1.7<5.0<14.8
Attempted
Suicide
12.5% v 2.7%
104 v 259  .15a
4.0<5.1<6.5
10.6% v 2.4%
69 v 186  .13a
3.6<4.8<6.5
19.8% v 4.2%
32 v 68  .194a
3.6<5.6<8.9
15.5% v 4.0%
18 v 52  .146a
2.5<4.4<7.9
30.4% v 5.1%
14 v 16  .306a
3.6<8.1<18.1
14.3% v 3.9%
3 v 5   .160c
.90<4.1<18.6
Multiple
Suicide
Attempts
6.6% v 1.1%
55 v 105  .12a
4.5<6.4<8.9
5.1% v 1.0%
33 v 81  .09a
3.4<5.1<7.7
11.7% v 1.4%
19 v 23  .195a
4.9<9.2<17.4
7.8% v 1.4%
9 v 18  .128a
2.6<6.0<13.8
21.7% v 1.6%
10 v 5  .336a
5.5<17.0<52.7
14.3% v 0.0%
3 v 0   .354a
- < - < -
Suicide
Attempt(s)
Medical Care
3.7% v 0.7%
31 v 70  .08a
3.4<5.2<8.0
3.9% v 0.7%
25 v 57  .08a
3.4<5.4<8.7
3.7% v 0.7%
6 v 12  .085a
1.9<5.2<14.0
3.4% v 0.5%
4 v 6  .098a
2.1<7.7<27.8
4.3% v 1.6%
2 v 5  .066 ns
.52<2.8<14.7
0.0% v 0.8%
0 v 1  -.033ns
- < - < -
Attempt(s)
Multiple /
Medical Care
8.3% v 1.5%
69 v 139  .13a
4.5<6.1<8.2
6.8% v 1.4%
44 v 106  .11a
3.7<5.2<7.5
14.1% v 2.0%
23 v 32  .202a
4.6<8.2<14.3
9.4% v 1.9%
4 v 6  .131a
2.6<5.3<11.1
26.1% v 2.6%
12 v 8  .343a
5.1<13.4<35.2
14.3% v 0.8%
3 v 1  .291a
2.1<21.3<216
1. "N = 11,316" Weighted Counts in the Group = Original Counts only in this category. "8.0%" = Incidence for Reports of Anti-Gay Harassment (AGH). 
2. "27.0% v 9.7%" Incidence AGH for those in suicidality variable vs. others. Equivalent Counts: "214 v 1007". Correlation = .149a , with Statistical Significance: a (p £ 0.000), b (p £ 0.01, > 0.000), c (p < 0.05, > 0.01), ns (Non Significant). The OR "2.9<3.4<4.0" is given with a 95% Confidence Interval.The red colour indicates that Logistic Regression Analyses (Logit) with a minimum of 3 reasonably accurate predictors are generally precluded by low counts: (N < 30. However, lower counts are possible when using another procedure: Logit (See Table 16).

 
 
Table 15 - 1999 Oregon Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Grade 9-12 Males
Anti-Gay Harassment & Suicidality In "One Race" Groups
Statistical Analyses Often Precluded In Non-White Groups: Racism?
Race
Groups à
/ Suicidality
White
N = 9,109
7.7%
Aboriginal
N = 270
8.1%
Black
N = 216
17.2%
Latino
N = 694
5.8%
Asian
N = 362
5.7%
Pacific I.
N = 123
12.1%
Seriously
Considered
Suicide
25.9% v 9.4%
178 v 784  .14a
2.8<3.4<4.1
29.2% v 13.3%
7 v 32   .128c
1.0<2.7<7.0
40.0% v 11.6%
14 v 21   284a
2.2<5.1<11.5
27.8% v 9.3%
10 v 60  .136a
1.7<3.8<8.2
23.6% v 10.5%
5 v 36   .111c
1.0<3.0<9.0
11.1% v 13.2%
2 v 14   -.022 ns
.17<.82<4.0
Attempted
Suicide
10.6% v 2.4%
69 v 186  .13a
3.6<4.8<6.5
10.5% v 7.4%
2 v 16   .032ns
.31<1.5<7.0
21.9% v 2.6%
7 v 4   .308a
2.9<10.5<38.5
11.8% v 4.0%
4 v 22   .088c
1.0<3.2<9.9
16.7% v 2.3%
3 v 7   .190b
2.0<8.3<35.5
16.7% v 3.4%
2 v 3   .197b
.83<5.6<37.6
Multiple
Suicide
Attempts
5.1% v 1.0%
33 v 81   .09a
3.4<5.1<7.7
5.0% v 3.2%
1 v 7   .027ns
.18<1.6<13.4
12.5% v 1.3%
4 v 2   .239b
1.9<10.8<62.1
0.0% v 1.3%
0 v 7  -.027 ns
- < - < -
11.1% v 0.7%
2 v 2.217a
2.4<18.6<140
16.7% v 0.0%
2 v 0  .387a
- < - < -
Suicide
Attempt(s)
Medical Care
3.9% v 0.7%
25 v 57 .08a
3.4<5.4<8.7
5.3% v 0.5%
1 v 1  .142c
.71<11.9<198
3.1% v 0.0%
1 v 0  .044c
- < - < -
0.0% v 0.5%
0 v 3   -.018 ns
- < - < -
0.0% v 0.3%
0 v 1  -.014ns
- < - < -
16.7% v 2.3%
2 v 2  .239b
1.1<8.6<67.9
Attempt(s)
Multiple /
Medical Care
6.8% v 1.4%
44 v 106 .11a
3.7<5.2<7.5
10.0% v 3.7%
2 v 8   .087ns
.57<2.9<14.6
15.6% v 1.3%
5 v 2   .284a
2.6<14.1<76.3
0.0% v 0.5%
0 v 9   -.031 ns
- < - < -
11.1% v 1.0%
2 v 3   .188b
1.9<12.4<79.4
16.7% v 3.4%
2 v 3   .198b
.84<5.7<38.1
1. "N = 9,109" Weighted Counts in the Group. "7.7%" = Incidence for Reports of Anti-Gay Harassment (AGH). 
2. "25.9% v 9.4%" Incidence AGH for those in suicidality variable vs. others. Equivalent Counts: "178 v 784". Correlation = .142a , with Statistical Significance: a (p £ 0.000), b (p £ 0.01, > 0.000), c (p < 0.05, > 0.01), ns (Non Significant). The OR "2.8<3.4<4.1" is given with a 95% Confidence Interval..The red colour indicates that Logistic Regression Analyses (Logit) with a minimum of 3 reasonably accurate predictors are generally precluded by low counts: (N < 30. However, using a lower count cutoff is possible when using another statistical procedure: Logit (See Table 16).

The varied statistical associations between anti-gay harassment and the five suicidality variables (Table 14, Table 15) indicates that adolescent males are at risk for suicidality in association with anti-gay harassment, and that this risk generally increases for the more serious forms of suicidality. Variations in suicidality incidences and odd ratios also lead to the recommendation that researchers should not produce statistical results on the basis of ambiguous categories such as "All Males" or "Males Of Colour." It must also be recognised that a category like "Asian" includes very diverse groups of people and that they may not all would respond to certain life situations in the same way. This would apply for French and English Canadians with respect to some attributes being investigated. It also applies for North American people of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, South Asian, and Southeast Asian descent, noting here that these categories also include varied cultures, often with different religions, and even different views on homosexuality. The human categories used in our analyses are therefore lacking in many ways, but the results related to the listed "race / ethnic" categories, as solicited in Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, may be better than results derived from collapsing the data into an "All Males" category as it has been done in most published studies based on YRBS data sets. These data set are smaller (e.g Massachusetts YRBS has about 2,000 males, compared to 11,316 in the Oregon YRBS data set), thus severaly limiting what can be said about significant suicidality associations for adolescent males in "Ethnic / Race" minority groups. Results presented in Table 14 and Table 15 indicate that low counts preclude statistical analyses, such as Logistic Regression, within most "Ethnic / Race" minority categories in the Oregon data set, and more so with respect to the serious forms of suicidality. This problem, however, is 5-times worse in data sets containing only 2,000 males, thus suggesting that racism be apply on the part of the designers of such studies studies. That is, they are essentially manifestatiing a form of racism that does not recognize the possibility that people of colour experience life situations different than those of white people, and maybe that all people of colour are the same, when major differences may exist and should be studied.

Our work on the 1999 Oregon YRBS data set indicates that, when all males are analysed as a group, important factors existing within a self-identified group (that may be quite different that factors existing in other groups) are often washed out, thus greatly limiting the value of generated statistical associations. The same applies for categories such as "Of Colour" or "Of colour - One Race," the latter meaning that adolescent males studied reported a self-identification with only one "race / ethnic" group. Of great significance are the results for adolescent males identifying as "Multi-Race" (N = 282, Table 14) because, in the "Of Colour" category (N = 2,048) where these males account for 13.4 percent of the group (282/2,048), they account for an significant overrepresentation of  suicide attempters: 30% (30/100). For the more serious forms of suicidality (multiple suicide attempts and/or suicicide attempt(s) associated with having received medical attention), however, their overrepresentation is larger: 36.4 percent (20/55). On the other hand, "Latino / Hispanic males make up 33.9 percent of the "Of Colour" group (694/2,048, Table 14, Table 15) but they only account for 16.4 percent (9/55) of the suicide attempters. With respect to the "Anti-Gay Harassment" variable, the differences in associated suicidality may be even greater as illustrated by "Multi-Race" males accounting for 51.2 percent of the more serious suicide attempters reporting "Anti-Gay Harassment," while "Latino / Hispanic" males account for 0.0 percent of these suicide attempters. Therefore, combining such males groups in statistical analyses to produce basic incidences for varied suicidality variables or suicidality incidences associated with negative life experiences (e.g. experiencing anti-gay harassment because one is assumed to be gay or bisexual), to generating predictors via multivariate analysis could become an exercise bordering on the ridiculous, especially with respect to the interpretive value of some results. That is, if groups are to be combined for analysis, this should be done for a reason. Furthermore, the groups combined for analyses should also have similar incidence rates for the dependent variable and somewhat similar sizes so that the counts of one group (maybe having 500 invividuals, with a suicide attempt incidence of 2%) are not overwhelmed by the counts of another group (maybe having 10,000 individuals and a suicide attempt incidence of 6 percent). Furthermore, in procedures such as binary logistic regression analyses with combined groups, it would be important to know the group origins for the counts producing the predictors given that a predictor may not apply to one or more of the group in the statistical analysis. This is illustrated in Table 16 where the results of a Binary Logistic Regression analysis results for three groups of males are presented.
 
 

Table 16 - Native American and Multi-Race Males: Binary Logistic Regression
Analysis: Attempted Suicide (Multiple Times and/or Received Medical Care)
Enter Regression Results (Not Weighted): Odds Ratios (Relogit Values1)
Variables
Dependent
Variable Frequency
17 / 595 – 2.9%
Suicidality Count, %F, Correlation, Odds
Ratio, and Statistical Significance:
a =
£ 0.000, b = 0.001-0.009, c = 0.010-
0.049, d = 0.050-0.099, e
³ 0.100
2X2 results listing order: Three groups together,
and Native (One Race), Native (Multi-Race),
Multi-Race (No Native), respectively.
1:10
AICr
AICr
Anti-Gay
Harassment, 
School,
Past Year
10.4a
10.9a
11.4a
8, 14.0%, 0.218: 9.6a
3, 16.7%, 0.235: 11.6a
3, 15.0%, 0.300: 22.6a
2, 10.5%, 0.141: 5.0d
Slapped/Hit at
Home by Adult,
Past Year
6 counts shared with
gay harassment.3
8, 9.1%, 0.156: 5.5a
4, 11.8%, 0.216: 9.6b
2, 9.1%, 0.165: 6.2c
2, 6.3%, 0.080: 2.6e
Steroid Use, 
Life, times: 1+
--
10.7b
8.2b
3, 13.0%, 0.123: 5.6b
1, 8.3%, 0.076: 3.6e
1, 16.7%, 0.177: 9.3c
1, 20.0%, 0.159: 9.1c
Fights, Year, #: 6+,
<=1 at School
--
--
10.0b
3, 14.3%, 0.131: 6.7b
1, 14.3%, 0.119: 6.7d
1, 16.7%, 0.177: 9.3c
1, 12.5%, 0.112: 5.1e
Drugs-Alcohol
HCN: Met
12.9b
16.8b
16.0b
2, 14.3%, 0.106: 6.3b
0, 0.0%, -0.024e
0, 0.0%, -0.014e
2, 25.0%, 0.262: 15.0a
Constant
0.016a
0.012a
0.010a

Hosmer & Lem.4
--
--
0.333

-2Loglikelihood4
141.7
133.3
124.6

Notes and Abbreviations: 

Dependent Variable Frequency: Frequency for the dependent variable: "Attempted Suicide (Multiple Times and/or Received Medical Care) In Past Year".
1:10: Following the rule "1 predictor per 10 events" for logistic regression.
AICr: Including/excluding last variable is based on AIC (Akaike Information Criterion) value differences being statistically significant. BIC (Bayesian Information Criterion) value differences are generally significant for the second least significant variable in regression models with 4 predictors.

1. Relogit procedure by King et al. (1999, 2001: http://gking.harvard.edu/stats.shtml) is available as a plug-in for the Stata 8 Statistical Software. It produces corrected coefficients (converted into Odds Ratios). Logit produces correct coefficients only if the "1 predictor per 20 events" rule is followed. In the above regression with 3 to 4 predictors for the specified 17 suicide attempters, the ratio of predictor to suicide attempters nears 1:4, meaning that OR values are approximation made possible by using relogit methodology, and also because of the high 2X2 correlation and OR values for predictor variables. Variable selection for the Enter Regressions was carried out via performing five Forward Stepwise Regression using 50 possible independent variables, with the removal of strongest predictor in each subsequent regression. In each case, the first 5 predictors were recorded for entry as independent variables in the Enter Regressions and subsequent removal of insignificant variables.
2. 2X2 values were generated with the maximum removal of study subjects in a logistic regression with 50 variables. Actual counts in the regression would sometimes be higher. 
3. The available research leads to the suggestion that males known to be gay, or suspected to be gay on the basis of gender nonconformity (the most common situation) are more likely to be abused and also physically assaulted in their homes, at school, or on their way to school. For a literature review and research report on parental maltreatment of GLB children, see Corliss et al. (2002). For abuse in schools, see Human Rights Watch (2001).
4. Hosmer & Lem.: Hosmer and Lemeshow Test. The statistical non-significance – as given - suggests that the logistic regression model is acceptable. Values generated on the basis of Logit regression values (SPSS 11). They are not available with the Relogit plug-in program in Stata 8.
Note: Males who reported having "attempted suicide" and also reported that they "did not seriously consider suicide" were removed from this analysis.
For Youth Risk Behavior Survey Methodology, Relisability, and Validity issues, see Brener et al. (1995), Brener et al. (2002), Brener et al. (2003), Brener et al. (2004), Brener et al. (2004a).

Native Americans (one race, N = 284), Native Americans (Multi-Race, N = 164), and other Multi-Race males (N = 210) were combined for the Logistic Regression Analysis because they had the highest "attempted suicide" incidence (6.2%, 7.5%, 6.6%, respectively) of all male groups (Whites: 2.8%, Others averaging 3.1%) and because they are related via the Native American, Multi-Race group. A major result of the analysis was experiencing "anti-gay harassment" (applies for 47 percent of males - 8/17 - who reported multiple suicide attempts and/or attempt(s) associated with receiving medical care) was a significant predictor, and that the majority of males in this category (75%: 6/8) were also reporting being "slapped/hit at home by an adult." This variable, however, did not remain significant in the regression mostly because it was being dominated by the "anti-gay harassment" variable, but it would have been a significant predictor if the information about "anti-gay harassment" had not been solicited and this variable was not on the regression analysis. In other words the two variables covary and it is also likely that the same factor causing boys to be subjected to "anti-gay harssment" in school (most likely gender nonconformity and related suspicions that one is homosexual) is also resulting in physical assaults at home. The Corliss et al (2002) research findings support this hypothesis given that, from an American national sample, gay/bisexual men were most at risk, compared to heterosexual males, for having experienced major physical maltreatment by their mothers and fathers (ORs = 3.6, 3.8, respectively: multivariate logistic regression analysis), and at lesser risk for "any physical maltreatment" and "emotional maltreatment." Such research result as well as other cited by Corliss et al (2002), combined with the results noted for "at risk" Native American and Multi-Race adolescent males assumed to be gay in Oregon high schools, and the fact that most of them are also being assaulted at home, suggest that homosexuality issues are intimately related with adolescent male suicidality, and especially with the most serious forms of suicidality. That is, "anti-gay harassment at school, by itself, but with other likel similar negative experiences also applying, accounts for almost 50 percent of the Native American and Multi-Racial adolescent males who attempted suicide multiple times in a one year period and/or received medical care as the result of one or more suicide attempts.

Little has been reported in the research literature on the relationship of harassment, including anti-gay harassment, and the suicide problems of adolescent males that are also strongly associated with the often unsolicited "gay/bisexual" identification factor and moderately associated with the "unsure of one's sexual orientation" factor. These life situations are all implicated in adolescent males suicidality as suggested in the results of the 1995 Seattle Youth Risk Behavior Survey (Table 11) and in the 1995 Massachusetts' Youth Risk Behavior Survey (Note 6). Issues related to male homosexuality presented throughout this paper, and especially those related to stigmatisation and related abuses, serve to further understand adolescent male suicidality. This applies for adolescent males who have recognised same-sex sexual desires and are reporting themselves to be gay or bisexual and/or to be engaging in same-sex sexual activity, and it also applies for adolescent males "assumed" to be gay and are abused accordingly. They are at risk, especially because these abuses are occurring in environments where homonegativity / homophobia have been the norm and are acceptable. To this day, such attitudes and related abuses rarely result in reprimands from anyone and therein lies part of the problem, but there is much more to this story.

Homophobia is said to be "a weapon of sexism" (Pharr, 1993) and this would mean that most males are still growing and actively working to maintain their supremacy status vis-à-vis females. How most boys and men continue to really feel about females is usually not expressed directly, but their inner feelings become apparent when males are responding to a feminine male, or a male deemed to be feminine. He will be laughed at or insulted, and these responses are always rooted in the "learned" traditional perception that femininity is a degraded status. The link between homophobia / homosexuality and sexism is replicated whenever a male is assumed to be homosexual because he is feminine to any significant degree, and this belief "is culturally supported by a powerful cultural stereotype" (Frommer, 2000: 194; Connell, 1992: 748). The assumption reflects the long time belief that all males should only be sexually attracted to females and vice versa. This means that everyone is to be 100 percent heterosexual and that only heterosexual people should exist, which is the standard definition of heterosexism (Stevenson and Medler, 1995: 1). It is also embodied in the expression "heteronormativity" used to describe school environments by Morino (2000). According to Epstein and Johnson (1994), heterosexism is the presumption of heterosexuality and it underpins the problem of homophobia (Beckett and Denborough, 1995: 112). Homophobia is strategically deployed by adolescent males to keep other males in line (Plummer, 1999, 2001; Morino, 2000: 227), and these abuses are often carried out by males acting collectively in "the policing of masculinities" that is intimately related to boys having acquired highly negative attitudes vis-à-vis females (Marino, 2000). The "policing of masculinities" is hegemonic masculinity in action and all males manifesting feminine attributes (and assumed to be homosexual) will be targeted for exclusion and/or abuse because, as noted by Connell (1992: 748), we live in "a patriarchal society in which hegemonic masculinity is defined as exclusively heterosexual." Many of these hegemonic masculine boys will also become the young adults males described in Fiona Hart's 1990 study: "The construction of masculinity in men's friendships: misogyny, heterosexism and homophobia." Others will be part of the athletic subculture where "women… [and] men who [do] not display traditional hegemonic characteristics like aggression, domination and loud banter" will be excluded (Harvey, 1999: 105). Nayak and Kehily (1996: 214) describe the association between hegemonic masculinity, misogyny and homophobia:

"Lees (1993, pp. 89-90) remarks 'it is an insult for a boy to be called a 'woman' because being similar to girls is also to be associated with a lower status group'. The connection between hegemonic masculinities and homophobia can be seen when we consider that many of the characteristics ascribed to gay men are applied to women. In this sense homophobia and misogyny can overlap where one is 'spoken' through the other. An example of this occurs in Lehtonen's (1995) study of young people's sexual identities in Finnish schools where he remarks on the use of the term 'vitun homo' meaning 'fucking queer' which is made up of a combination of the words 'cunt' and 'gay'. Homophobia is then a means of consolidating sexuality and gender through the traducing of femininity, and its association with homosexuality… Young men may worry about being gay, and being called gay, in part due to the intense hostility expressed towards women and femininity."
A variation on the theme that females and gay men are similar is articulated in the ethnographic study of Puerto Rican adolescents in the city of New York (Ascencio, 1999). In a section titled "The opposite of macho is an 'effeminate' man," the traditional view of women in the western world, that of the Madonna and the whore, is still being replicated in the minds of Puerto Rican adolescent macho males. In their view of things, the whore is called "the slut" and, "like sluts, homosexual males deserve societal scorn and violence toward them… A common belief was that male homosexuals wanted to be women and wanted to be treated as women. The assumption was that females or 'like females' have a natural sexual attraction for males," except that gay males were even less than most women. They are the equivalent to the most degraded women that no one is to respect: "the slut". "The relegation of gay males to female status was considered as abhorrent to some of the self-identified heterosexual males as the thought of same-sex sexual behaviors… Constructs such as 'homosexual' and 'slut' are imbued with complex social meanings and consequences. The females in the group feared the label slut, while both genders, particularly males, feared the label homosexual" (115-6).

Martino (1999: 244) reports on similar male attributes in his study of 15- to 16-year-old West Australian males:

"On the basis of this research, it appears that many boys learn to establish their masculinity in opposition to femininity (see Connell, 1994). In other words, they define their masculinity within a set of cultural and social practices which involve a rejection and denigration of what they consider to be feminine attributes or behaviors that often serve as markers of homosexuality in the policing of ascendant forms of masculinity (see Ward, 1995; Butler, 1996; Laskey and Beavis, 1996). This is also reflected in the tendency of many boys to avoid expressing their emotions which appears to be predicated on the basis that showing emotions is considered to be feminine. And as one boys stated in an interview, learning to be masculine involves 'staying away as much as possible from being a female'."
If one is masculine, one is therefore also heterosexual, and vice versa, with no room existing within this definition for homosexuality. This has been called hegemonic masculinity(ies) or heterosexual masculinity(ies) that is apparently what all real males should become or, by a belief induced default, they would then be feminine and homosexual. As stated by McGuffy and Rich (1999: 610, 618), "other" in the world of hegemonic masculinity is "typically defined as 'effeminate.'" By an early age, children have also learned that "'masculinity is power' (Kaufman, 1995: 16)… and masculinity [power] is maintained through a hegemonic process that excludes femininity and alternate masculinities." One result of this traditional social education is to be observed in primary schools:
"Foregrounding the primary school as a key cultural arena for the production and reproduction of sexuality and sexual identities, this article goes some way to addressing what are absent from many sociological portrayals of young children and schooling… Discourse of homophobia were expressed vehemently by boys [Grade 6, England] who did not engage in over heterosexual boyfriend/girlfriend relationships and more frequently than by boys who did 'have girlfriends' and who were 'going out'. [Noted are behaviours equating to the] "advocacy of 'queer bashing'. Aside from homophobic narratives communicated in the group interviews, homophobic performances infiltrated classroom and playground interactions. These were directed at boys who got too close to other boys and those boys who failed or chose not to access hegemonic masculine discourses/practices. Differentiating oneself, and subordinating homosexualities, by shouting out or positioning other boys as 'gay' were all ways in which these boys asserted and attempted to make coherent their heterosexual identities… Many boys resorted to defining and asserting their heterosexuality through discourses, gestures and practices of misogyny and homophobia." (Renold, 2000: 322-3)

"Talk of faggots and gays is also used to help define a boy's own masculinity. By negatively talking about gays and excluding members who are presumed homosexual, individual boys are defining their own heterosexuality, while collectively they are endorsing hegemonic masculinity. Because most of these boys [age 5 to 12 years at a summer camp, middle- to lower-middle-class, south-eastern U.S.] are not sexually mature or knowledgeable, many do not have accurate conception of homosexuality (or for that matter, heterosexuality) at this age. Gay bashing is another way boys can separate themselves from gender-deviant behavior" (McGuffy and Rich, 1999: 619).

This "gay bashing" intimately associated with homophobic and misogynistic hegemonic masculinity begins early in the lives of boys, and it continues throughout the junior and senior high school years and beyond. In high schools, it produces the anti-gay harassment reported in the 1995 Seattle and 1999 Oregon Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, and this harassment is strongly associated with elevated rates of suicidality for victimised adolescent males. About five to ten percent of males are suspected to be homosexual, usually on the basis of not living up to the demands of hegemonic masculinity, meaning that they are manifesting some detectable "femininity," and the abuse begins. It is not only in Oregon and Seattle, however, that these adolescent male suicide problems would exist. They are likely to exist in Finland where "term 'vitun homo' meaning 'fucking queer'… is made up of a combination of the words 'cunt' and 'gay'" (Nayak and Kehily, 1996: 214). Finnish researchers of bullying in school however, have been silent about anti-gay harassment existing in their schools, and the same applies for Norway where pioneering research work has been done on bullying in school. The most famous, well known, and most widely cited researcher is Dan Orweus who authored of one of the first books on bullying: Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do. Eslea and Mukhtar (2000) have been critical of his research, especially because his great reputation has led to researchers in western countries using his research instruments. With respect to such questionnaires, Eslea and Mukhtar (208-9) note that "the wording of the questions did not allow detailed exploration of racist bullying," and it is doubtful than anything has been done about anti-gay harassment in Norwegian schools, including documenting its existence, although all would know of its presence. A good example of this is embodied in the Rivers and Smith (1994) study of primary and secondary school children in England that was titled "Types of Bullying and their correlates."

Their survey used "a modified version of the questionnaire used by Olweus in Norway (Olweus, 1991; Ahmad et al., 1991)" in which bullying is defined as forms of harmful verbal or physical behaviours directed at others, including shunning and spreading rumours, but without reference to the ethnicity of bullied individuals. Information related to the possible gender nonconformity of victimised students was not solicited, and the same applied for the presumption of homosexuality often associated with detectable gender nonconformity. This study illustrates the norm existing in bullying research that will also be upheld if a researcher is gay; Ian Rivers would later report on anti-gay bullying in school on the basis of a study sample of adult gay and lesbian individuals (Rivers, 2001). That is, the solicitation of "homosexuality and gender nonconformity" information will not be included as a part of one's more acceptable "mainstream" study of bullying in schools. The situation is almost like the related research has been designed by individual who are "professionals" only with respect to making sure that no one will understand what has been really happening in schools.

In Norway, however, gay and lesbian individuals have attempted suicide incidences remarkably similar to those in North America (Table 15), and the lifetime incidence is the highest for youth (16-24 Years: 27%), thus suggesting that homophobia problems in Norway, including in schools, are similar to those documented in North America.
 
 

Table 15 - Nova Study: Norwegian Gay and Bisexual Males
Hegna K et al., (1999)
Categories
16-24 Years
25-34 Years
35-50 Years
> 50 Years
Attempted Suicide Once
20%
12%
9
11
Multiple Suicide Attempts
7%
5%
5
2
Totals
27%
17%
14%
13%

N = 2987 Males and Females, 72% Males = 1,852 Males (Approximately).

Hegna (2001) supplied an example of Norwegian attitudes toward gay and lesbian people on the basis of the results of an attitude study carried out by Markeds-og Mediainstituttet (MMI) on behalf of NOVA: "A similar positive change has taken place regarding the right of lesbians and gays to adopt children. In 1998 a quarter of the population reply that they are in favour, compared to less than a tenth in 1992." These results, however, indicate that 75% of Norway's population does not approve of such adoption, and that the situation was much worse 10 years ago. Based on their study of 2,897 self-identified gay and lesbian individuals, Hegna (2001) reported that "especially the young in our survey stand out in a negative way. About five times as many gays/lesbians have been exposed to violent threats during the last year as compared to young women and men in the population as a whole." Gay males also feel particularly "at risk" in Norwegian society:

"Compared with the population as a whole (Statistics Norway’s 1995 survey), gay men are substantially more concerned about being exposed to violence or threats when going out alone. Gay men are more concerned about going out alone than are lesbian women. This fact contrasts sharply with the distribution between the sexes in the population as a whole, where women are far more concerned about this than men" (Hegna, 2001).
Near the end of 2000, I began communicating with a closeted Japanese gay male who is now 22 years of age and completing his first university degree. At the beginning, he was having suicide problems related to being closeted, lonely, and most fearful of anyone knowing that he was gay, and he also did not want to be friends with others if he could not be honest with them about himself being gay. Given that I was involved with this paper, in part related to anti-gay related harassment / bullying in schools, I had asked him about his experiences when he was younger. His true name was changed to "Hiroki" because, as he stated, "Please let me stay in the closet for the moment. I don't think I'm not yet ready to come out." Hiroki supplied this information between July 2001 and January 2002.
 

Bullying in Japan

I asked, "What are the types of harassment abuse that Japanese boys experience in schools, beginning in primary school, then in junior high, then in high school?" The following is a composite of Hiroki's reply:

"Well, I have never was abused by anyone through my school life and so I can't say anything from the point of those who have got bullied, but let me try to answer your questions with what I actually saw and heard in school.

There were largely two kinds of harassment: physical and non-physical harassment. As for the physical harassment, it's usually that some guys attack one weak person physically, like hitting, punching, kicking, etc. When I was in a junior high, there was one guy who changed his school and came to mine. I thought he was just doing fine because he was very active and out-going. But one day I found him, surrounded by some guys, who were all kind of leaders of doing bad things in my school. They were kicking this new guy and he was just standing there doing nothing. I don't know what happened later because he and I were not close friends, but anyway, that's what I saw in a junior high school.

What I saw in a primary school was kind of non-physical harassment, like verbal abusing, dissociating (make sense?), etc." [Meaning: shunning someone, not permitting them to be part of one's group.]

[Concerning bullying (ijime) in Japan, Omori (1999) provides a summary: "Ijime in the Japanese schools is a very violent phenomenon, sometimes resulting in death of the victim (Murakami, 1989). Most incidents of ijime begin in junior high school… The two salient characteristics of ijime are (1) the very dark and cruel nature of violence and (2) the acts of violence (emotional and physical) are conducted in groups against one victim or a several students (Kadokawa, 1998; Kikkawa, 1987; Murakami, 1989; Schoolland, 1986)"]
 

Anti-Gay Bullying in Japan?
"I met only one gay guy in school and he didn't seem to have any harassment, which was based on his homosexuality." Some people were unfriendly to him but at the same time he seemed to have some close friends. So it seemed that he was just doing okay.

[How did they get to be known that he was gay? Did he tell others that he was gay?] "I don't know if he told anyone about his sexuality, but he was so feminine that we could easily guess that he was gay. His way of speaking, acting ... everything he did looked so effeminate that it just couldn't be that he was straight. Know what I mean?

There was kind of anti-gay atmosphere in schools. For sometimes I saw some teachers telling that gay guy to be and behave more like men. It was not an order. They were just implying that he should behave more like men. And also even in the past gay things were what they joked about in school.

There was not anti-gay physical harassment in my school, but to be gay was always what they ridicule and joked about. I think that was kind of anti-gay harassment so there really was anti-gay harassment in my school.

In junior high they just said to gay or gay-like guys, "You homo!" or "You poof!" And in high school I didn't notice any gay guy, but if somebody looked like they were gay, they just made up a groundless rumour that he was gay, just for fun." [What kind of jokes? What were their ideas of someone "gay"?]

"Well, as for their ideas of someone gay, to be honest I don't really know, for I've never asked. I don't think I'd have got clear answers from them, either, if I'd asked a question "what is the idea about gay people?" I guess it just didn't matter to them that a boy loved a boy or a girl loved a girl. What matters was homosexuality being "different" from heterosexuality, which most of them had. As you said, for adolescents, being "different" is the kiss of death. I believe it surely is particularly in Japan, which is mostly dominated by one single race, hence their curiosity about anything different from other things."
 

Hiroki's Early Thoughts About "Gay" People
Well, this is a bit difficult question to answer, for I didn't really think anything about gay people. It was rather that I didn't want to, because, as I might have said before, I didn't want to think that I was homosexual. I couldn't easily accept it. So I just tried not to think about it.

But my image about gay people was not that good. I saw some gay people in a TV programme and they were somehow all being treated like comedians or clowns. The gay people themselves also were doing some stupid things to make people laugh. And I don't know why, but all gay people, who appeared on TV, were effeminate. I thought gay people were just clowns, whose reason of existence was nothing but to get laughed at by everyone. Having thought like that, I came to think that I didn't want to be gay and I must change myself. So what I thought about gay people when I was younger was that they were all sad, unfortunate people. And now I think many TV programmes were also presenting them just as sad, unfortunate people. There was no thing like "pride" here in Japan.
 

Hiroki 's Childhood / Adolescence:
The environment prevented me from coming out or even from thinking about it. I mean, Sasebo-city, where I was living when younger, is a small city of about 240,000 people, which is not urban. The ruraler (more rural?) the city is, the more conservative its atmosphere is, and so I think, in Sasebo, it was out of the question in the first place to be gay, because they didn't allow anybody to be so.

I found almost nobody to who I could tell I was gay in Sasebo. And my grandfather once told me off very severely, which is why I can remember even though it happened when I was 6 or 7, shouting, Hiroki!! Why the hell do you speak like a girl!! Behave like a man!!!" By the way, I was very feminine when I was younger. I had been so from when I was born to when I was 12 years old. I wasn't really aware of my being feminine until one of my classmates asked me if I was homosexual when I was a freshman at a junior high (then I was 12 years old).

At an elementary school, I know I was kind of different from other male students. I didn't like any sports, plastic car models, almost everything that other male students liked. Instead, what I liked was almost the same as what female students liked, like origami (paper-craft), playing a musical instrument like piano, and even knitting for a while.

But nobody rejected me nor did make fun of me for that. That's why I suddenly started thinking how they see me when one of my classmates made clear fun of me looking homosexual. I just laughed it off saying, "Oh, no, no. I'm not like that." so that he wouldn't notice the real me.

Now I think that was the beginning I started trying to make myself behave more like a man, look more like a man, and, more than anything else, be another person, not who I really am. But unfortunately, I just ended up having a strong feeling of self-hatred.

As previously noted, Hiroki was having suicide problems, and these feelings were manifesting themselves a manic depression like manner, depending on how intense his sense of loneliness and isolation happened to be, and also depending on whether he believe that this situation would ever end. My communication with him including supplying information about homosexuality in Japanese history with the objective of challenging his acquired belief that homosexuality is so rare that he must be more like a freak, and therefore not like most people. Via writings such as "Japan's journey into homophobia" by Hawkins (2000), "From Samurai to capitalist: male love, men's homophobia, and the rise of homophobia in Japan" by Williams (1992), and from related information made available on the Internet, Hiroki would learn Japanese people had not always viewed homosexuality as negatively. China also had a history of viewing homosexuality much more positively (Hinsch, 1990) but the western world had greatly influenced perceptions of homosexuality in Asia, especially via psychiatry that was contributing to and reflecting the great rise in homophobic attitudes during the Twentieth Century in the West. In Asia, psychiatrist have often use the International Classification of Mental Disorders (ICD) that continued to classify homosexuality as a mental disorder long after it was removed from the mental disorder list in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973. This revision occurred in 1992 as reflected in ICD-10. In China, however, homosexuality continued to be viewed as a mental disorder until recently:
"The Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders Third Revision (CCMD-3), forthcoming in April 2001, will delete homosexuality from the list of mental disorders, but still retain Ego-Dystonic Homosexuality, a source from Chinese Psychiatric Association (CPA) said" (CSSSM, 2001).
Many Asian males who have recognised their same-sex sexual desires do not generally feel good about this situation, and their negative responses are related to social education, including 'authoritative' statement made by apparently highly educated individuals such as psychiatrists. Hiroki's feeling had been a product of such negative social education and I recognised that he may need someone to talk with face-to-face about his problems, meaning that counselling at the British university where he was enrolled would be recommended. This was problematic, however, because many western counsellors are clueless about homosexuality issues in general, and even more so about homosexuality in other cultures, and harm could result from such counselling. Furthermore, it would not be easy, for a number of reasons, to have Hiroki venture into counselling in a foreign country because he was terrified of anyone knowing about his homosexuality. Many of these problems are articulated in one of the exceptionally rare papers on the subject: "Working with Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual International Students in the United States" by Nadine Kato (1999) that is available online and that I asked Hiroki to read.

In early December 2000, I had received the email reproduced below after Hiroki had been occasionally communicating with me for about two months. He was in serious trouble and needed help; I would be doing whatever is possible via email. In addition to encouraging him to venture into face-to-face counselling, and I also placed him in email contact with a same-age gay male I had met online who happened to live in a nearby city. Later, he met Michael who had also been in the closet, and they eventually went to a gay club in London, this being a first time event for both of them. In addition, I sought to have Hiroki visit either of two local gay organisations in another city where his university was located, but I then negated this idea. A related investigation had produced the likelihood that white racism issues were not being addressed in these organisations and I did not want Hiroki to be experiencing additional problems. It was also helpful that I had previously obtained his permission to forward related emails to Richard Ramsay who, as I had told Hiroki, teaches Crisis Intervention at the University of Calgary. This request was made because, as I noted, this information would contribute to increasing Professor Ramsay's knowledge of individuals in other cultures, especially with respect to homosexuality issues and related problems. Hiroki's email:

"Hello Pierre,

Well, I don't know what to begin but now I feel I do want to kill myself again. I've been feeling strange inside myself these days. I don't know why. But what is clear is that I'm tired. I don't know if it is OK for me to live. Thinking of my life in the future, I become nearly mad. I don't think anything changes into better one in the future, because I'm not doing anything to do that. To change something into better one always has a possibility of hurting me mentally. Well, that may be natural in life, but I think it's very hard for us, I mean for gay people. Why do I have to suffer from what I have naturally or what I can't change so much? That's strange very much.

That's all because of my homosexuality. If I were normal, I would not suffer from anything. I don't know who to blame. My mother? My father? Or myself? Do you think it's because of me? Why I am so unfortunate is simply because of myself? Does it have nothing to do with my homosexuality? What should I do? I really hate myself. I'm strange. What do you think I should do?

I don't know what I'm thinking these days. I often think about killing myself. I'm very tired of living. I'm sinful. What do you think about me? I'm already 21 years old, but I'm like a child. I'm lack of social experiences. I don't think I have worth to live. Nothing changed since before. When I was younger, I thought something would change into better as for my homosexual life. But nothing changed.

I'm still alone. I can't stand myself. I feel very alone and that makes me want to kill myself. Why is there nobody who loves me? If it is a temporary feeling, that's OK. It's better than nothing. But I still have nobody. Well, it may be natural that I have no one because I am doing nothing to get one but it's not easy for gay people. People around me often joke about gay people. If I come out, there will be nobody around me. I do need someone but it's impossible. Why do I have to suffer from myself more than normal people do? It's not fair. I don't know what to do. I think I can do nothing, so I want kill myself.

Don't you like me talking about my problem? Nobody listens to me. But it's because of me. I simple don't know what to say. I'm strange. I'm in great trouble now but I can't say anything. It's not because I can't handle English well yet, but because I simply don't know what to say. Am I linguistically impaired? No words come up in my mind. So I'm really strange. But that I'm tired is clear. I want to kill myself. My life is full of the hell.

Pierre, are you busy? You don't like me emailing you?"

By March 2001, Hiroki had made contact with the counselling service at his university but the first meeting was not positive. Hiroki reported on the first counselling session:
"I did tell him - the counsellor - about my gay part. But it seemed he didn't understand being gay at all."
I was most troubled by this outcome, assumed that the counsellor had failed to be helpful, maybe because he lacked knowledge, and it was possible that his response was related to racism issues. This would, in fact, explain why the counsellor may not have sought to make an extra effort to understand what Hiroki was telling him, with the possibility that Hiroki was also having difficulty expressing himself in English. In response to this, I wrote following email, sent it to Hiroki, and also asked him for permission to relay all this information to Dr. Chris Bagley at the University of Southampton (so that Chris could then intervene with this counsellor based at another UK university, if need be). I asked Hiroki to write a letter to the counsellor, using some content from my email. I was about to place this counsellor in a "you better help this kid, or else… trouble may rain down on you" type of situation, mostly because I do not believe that inferior or harmful services should be provided to anyone as far too many in the 'helping' professions have had a history of doing when homosexuality issues were involved.
"Hi Hiroki!

You are over working, but at least you a getting some things done.

As for the counsellor... How about writing about some of the problems and giving what you have written - and printed out on a sheet of paper - to him. Something like this:

"I am gay - homosexual - and I have had a very difficult time to deal with this in Japan and here. I am continuing to have major problems with this. It is taking up too much of my thinking time and it is affecting my studies VERY NEGATIVELY. Sometimes I even feel quite SUICIDAL. I have to talk about these things with a counsellor and need help. Some of the problems are like the ones reported for gay males in the western world. Some are specific to my culture: "being Japanese."

...So Hiroki... How about printing this out - the part above - and giving it to the counsellor? You can also add this paragraph:

"I have been communicating with Pierre Tremblay who works in the field of MALE YOUTH SUICIDE as related to homosexuality. He is a research associate with Dr. Chris Bagley, Department of Social Work Studies, University of Southampton - and Prof. Richard Ramsay, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. The latter teaches Crisis Intervention at U of C. For more information, see the following web site (bottom of the web page) - http://www.sws.soton.ac.uk/gay-youth-suicide/ - For more information write to: pjtremblay@hotmail.com"

...Putting these two paragraphs on a sheet of paper - printing it out - and giving your name - may help. It may also help more if you do this on Friday - and making sure that the counsellor you saw last Monday gets it "on Friday." It may make a big difference for when you see him again on Monday. If he feels that he cannot help you, then he may request that you see someone else who is better than he is. He should make the arrangements for this. You can also talk to him about this possibility.

...If, however, you cannot get the sheet of paper to him by Friday, you can then give it to him when you see him on Monday. Make sure his name is on it - that his name is on the envelope too!

..Is this idea acceptable to you. Should all of this not work, I will contact Chris Bagley in England so that he can telephone the counselling centre at your university and get information which should make it possible for you to get good counselling help.

...Would this be acceptable to you?

Love,

Pierre

Ps. Send me a copy of what you would have written to him. You also can add other things about yourself in the letter to the counsellor. I wrote out the above - the two paragraphs - so that it will already be written for you - so that it saves you time - because you are very busy. You can tell him that a copy of the letter was sent to me."

Hiroki benefited from subsequent counselling sessions, but he was lucky. Most distressed Japanese gay youth studying abroad would not have met someone who can rally the 'troops' so that positive outcomes are more likely to occur, as opposed to a tragedy. This story, however, reveals that Japanese gay and bisexual males may have elevated rates of suicidal behaviours, including attempting suicide, and maybe committing suicide. I knew, however, that nothing had been published in Japan with respect to gay and bisexual male youth and their problems. My research has also revealed that school bulling was a major problem in Japan (e.g. Murakami, 1989; Young, 1993; Seto, 1998; Omori, 1999; Daulton and Akinori, 2000; Treml JN, 2001; Shoko, 2001). However, as with most researchers of school bullying throughout the world, anti-gay related harassment/bullying was being ignored in Japan.

Fortunately, via an Internet search for related information, I located recent pioneering research work done on Japanese gay and bisexual males by Yasuharu Hidaka, Kyoto University School of Public Health. This was the PowerPoint file for a paper presented at the 129th Annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in October 2001. The presentation was related to anti-gay abuses in Japanese schools and health issues, but it did not contain information related to suicide problems. I contacted Hidaka via email, asking if he had information related to Japanese gay and bisexual males who, as based on the information I had obtained, would likely have elevated rates of suicidality. His response was in the affirmative and that a related presentation had been made earlier in the year at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association. The PowerPoint presentation was sent to me and I then asked Yasuharu Hidaka for a related summary that was sent in January 2002. The following is an excerpt from Hidaka's submission:

"I have conducted two studies related to JGB (Japanese gay and bisexual) male health. In one study (Hidaka, 2001), 1,025 JGB males answered a questionnaire made available on the Internet from July to September 1999. In this study, seventy percent (69.7%) of the respondents reported having witnessed males being abused verbally with words equating to the English word "faggot." Sixty percent (59.6%) reported experiencing verbal abuse, and 82.7 percent reported experiences of general bullying. Most participants reported that they had not received any information about homosexuality in their formal school education. Seventy-one percent had not been exposed to any education about homosexuality, 12.9 percent had been given negative information, and 7.2% had been taught that homosexuality was abnormal (Hidaka 2001).

In the other study (Hidaka, Ichikawa & Kihara, 2001), a community-based sample of 160 JGB males was recruited using the snowball sampling technique. These males were from Tokyo and Osaka gay communities and were studied from November 1999 to February 2000. About seventy percent (68.8%) of these males reported having been verbally abused or teased in ways associated with the use of the Japanese equivalents for the word "faggot" and 65.6 % reported experiences of general bullying. A little over half (54.4 %) reported having thought about committing suicide, the average age being 15.0 years (range 7-28 years) for the first time that this feeling was experienced. Sixteen percent had attempted suicide. The average age of the first attempt was 16.9 years (range 10-28 years). Five percent had attempted suicide for reasons related to their sexual orientation and these attempts occurred, on average, at the age of 18.1 years (range 11-28 years).

These Japanese studies are limited in their scope but as with preliminary studies that used nonrandom samples in North America, similar results have been indicative of elevated rates of problems being experienced by homosexually oriented males. This fact has been confirmed in North America with studies of more representative samples of males, and such studies are needed in Japan. The above studies show that thinking about suicide and attempting suicide has been common in adolescence for Japanese gay and bisexual males. Adolescence is a period when many males are responding quite negatively to homosexuality issues. The situation is also exacerbated by the fact that adolescents will either have received only negative information about homosexuality in schools, or they will have not received any information, the latter suggesting that homosexuality is something so negative that it should not be discussed." (Hidaka, Personal Communication, 2002)


Gay and bisexual male youth problems therefore exist in many countries but they continue to be ignored by most or all mainstream researchers of youth social problems, thus indicating that these researchers have been the best friends and allies of gay bashers. These youth problems would include anti-gay harassment/bulling occurring in schools, usually because an adolescent male is "feminine" to some degree and is therefore homosexual, as based on the heterosexist assumption that "the feminine" must sexually desire "the masculine." Is this true? Or could it be that the boys detecting their desires for same-sex individuals are simply living up to expectations, as in living up to the same powerfully inculcated beliefs manifested by so many males in patriarchal societies well before they have actually met a homosexual male? What would happen, maybe unconsciously, to a male who recognized same-sex sexual and emotional desires at a young age in a world where one only sees females manifesting such desires? Would he maybe not seek to be whatever is expected of him? Would he not maybe become exactly what most other males were also educated to so firmly believe? The question therefore is: "Why have the other males responded with such scorn, abuse, ostracism, and even physical violence toward males who happens to be feminine?" If a boy or man hates a male who happens to be only "like of female," what are their true feelings about humans who happen to be "real females"? The following are parting thoughts very much related to issues addressed in this presentation of the social construction of male heterosexuality and related suicide problems.
 
 

Offending Gender: Being and Wanting in Male Same-Sex Desires
Frommer S, 2001: 204

"In a homophobic and heterosexist culture, the experiences of shame and narcissistic vulnerability are core to the lives of men who offend gender through their expression of same-sex desires… As analysts, we need actively to question and challenge our patients as well as ourselves when the experience of human attributes becomes cast in our minds as exclusively masculine or exclusively feminine (Layton, 1998). A critical analytic stance can help us to counter the excessive reliance on binary thinking that characterizes so much of human thought and is so pervasive in both cultural and psychoanalytic discourse. We need to recognize and to keep in mind that categories like masculine-feminine and gay-straight are actually culturally sanctioned instances of splitting (Benjamin, 1988; Dimen 1991; Goldner, 1991; Layton, 1998). Holding the psychic tension between the knowledge that gender and sexuality are socially constructed and yet lived as psychic realities can create a transitional space in which to experience them (Dimen, 1991)."


Rethinking the "Production" of Identity in the Work Context
Carr and Zanetti, 2000

"Western thought is imbued with a style of thinking based on dichotomy and binary opposition. We talk about right or wrong; rational or emotional; nature or nurture; public or private; heart or head; quality or quantity, etc. These are very familiar oppositions. Embedded in this fundamental style of thinking, however, are not only oppositions but also hierarchy, in that the existence of such binaries suggests a struggle for predominance. If one position is right, then the other must be wrong….

In binarism, one term represents the dominant centre; the other term represents the subordinate margin. The important thing about binarism is that it operates in the same way as splitting and projection: the centre expels its anxieties and contradictions onto the subordinate term. The Other often mirrors and represents what is deeply familiar to the centre, but projected out of itself.

I find thought-provoking the idea that, if one considers the opposition Self and Other, the Other is always to some extent within. That is to say, what is considered marginal and peripheral is actually central"

 

Homophobia and the Sexual Construction of Schooling
Beckett and Denborough, 1995: 117 (Australia)

"Heterosexual dominance for students identifying as heterosexual required an ongoing denial of same-sex eroticism. This involves complex ongoing processes of splitting and projection; the centre expels its anxieties, contradictions and irrationalities into the subordinate term, filling it with the antithesis of its own identity; the Other is its very alienness, simply mirrors and represents what is deeply familiar to the centre, but projected outside of itself (Rutherford, cited in Mac An Ghaill 1994: 22). The extreme outcome of such a process and proof of heterosexual masculinity are the 'poofter bashings' described earlier."


Constructing and Deconstructing Masculinities Through Critical Literacy
Davies B, 1997: 9-10

"Gender is constructed, through language, as two binary categories hierarchically arranged in relation to each other. The construction operates in a variety of intersecting ways, most of which are neither conscious nor intended. They are more like the effect of what we might call 'speaking as usual'. They are inherent in the structures of language and the storylines through which our culture is constructed and maintained. The structure of the language and the dominant storylines combine, with powerful effect, to operate on our conscious and unconscious minds and to shape our desire. The male-female binary is held in place because we come to see it as the way the world is and therefore ought to be - what is constructed as truth becomes an (apparently) absolute unconstructed truth. [Citing Foucault:] 'In the scientific regime of truth there are two sexes. The distance between them are scientifically established as absolute, or essential. The two-sex model is one in which each sex takes on its meaning in opposition to the other, any deviation is understood as aberrations, deviations from what is, and what ought to be.' … But the concept of sex as not fixed, and indisputably 'opposite' to the other sex, is difficult to grasp because we have taken up our own physical and psychic being within regimes of truth that have, in an unexamined base, the male-female binary."


The Ideology of 'Fag'
The School Experience of Gay Students
(Toronto, Canada)
Smith, GW, 1998: 312-2, 322, 324

"I have used the work of Mikhail Bakhtin to devise ways of 'seeing' social organization in language. What recommends Bakhtin's analytic perspective 1981, 1986; Hirschkop, and Shepherd 1989) is that it can be used in ways that are compatible, ontologically speaking, with the work of producing an institutional ethnography (D. Smith, 1987)… The gay consciousness of my informants and the homophobic consciousness of their detractors evolved within the wider organization of gender, co-ordinated in part by the ideology of 'fag.'

In high schools, "the process for finding 'fags' are, as I have emphasized, conceptually organized and are practices in talk and text. The analytic clue here is that language, meaning, and understanding are socially organized and organizing. Karl Marx's conception of language as practical consciousness is a key to understanding how the ideology of 'fag' works in the consciousness of gay students. Comprehending and participating in what is going on in a local setting is not just in the minds of one person, or of several individuals, but is a dialogic coordination of and in speech among those involved. Gay students or students identified as gay in the give-and-take organization of this ideology are drawn into it. They are just not passive participants. The language of harassment pulls them into the ideology through the dialogic of accusation and response - even if the latter is merely an inner reaction. They are yanked into the game of identifying 'fags' and forced to play, whether they want to or not.

The anti-gay rhetoric enters these students into the ideology of 'fag' as a form of consciousness for them, whether or not they are subject to direct attack. Many of my informants reported that they were 'different' early in life, but that entering the ideology of 'fag' during their high school years identified and shaped their consciousness of difference. School gossip and sometimes verbal abuse were the dialogic context in which some homosexual students developed fully fledged gay identities…

Over and over again informants talked about the process beginning with gossip and verbal abuse as creating an internal dialogue organizing their behavior. The social organization of these activities - including internal dialogue - is in language and is, in this sense, dialogic. This is the sense in which the gay consciousness of my informants was organized by the ideology of 'fag.' This view of consciousness as social activities based on language contrasts to the conception of consciousness as a private mental state. The social organization of gay consciousness is visible in social activities that are ordinarily available to be described. In these high school settings, gay consciousness is an integral part of the ideology of 'fag.' Its dialogic creates for gay students a breach of everyday consciousness through which they come to see themselves as marginalized, isolated, and 'other'."


One result of this social construction has been…

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm sorry it had to end this way but it was my fate. I couldn't handle life anymore. You see, the reason I ran away before to commit suicide is the same reason I did again. I'm gay. I never wanted to be and I always wished it would change, but it didn't. I wanted to live a normal life but God created me this way for some reason and there was nothing I could do to change it. I was born this way, believe me I would not choose this way of life for I know how hard and unaccepted it is. I'm painfully sorry you all had to deal with this but I couldn't deal with it. This way I could live a peaceful afterlife instead of a life of fear, agony, and manic depressiveness. Please realize I did not want to hurt anyone I just wanted to end my own pain. I love you all dearly and will someday see you all again hopefully with your understanding hearts and souls. I just hope God will bring me to heaven.

Love always and eternally,

Bruce

Bruce was born in the United States, but moved to Canada at age 8, living here until his 20th year. He returned to the United States and was living in Florida with family for a short time before travelling to the Grand Canyon where a 500-feet jump put an end to his life. We are grateful to his mother for making this information available for publication.
 
 

NOTES
 

Note 18

OutProud Internet Survey 2000

The data set was obtained from Chris Kryzan (Executive Director of OutProud, The National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth: http://www.outproud.com) early in 2001. The reported statistics were generated by Pierre Tremblay with SPSS-10.

The Sample

Total Sample: N = 1972, but 5 (age 13-18 years) were removed from data set for inconsistent answers to suicide related questions, and/or using negative values to answer the question related to numbers of suicide attempts. N = 1,967. Number answering the suicidality and/or at least one harassment question: 1,911 (97.2%). Number responding to one or more harassment questions: 1763 (89.6%). Number responding to suicidality questions: 1226 (62.3%). Of respondents to suicidality questions, 12.1% (N = 148) did not answer any of the harassment questions. Of respondents answering one or more harassment questions, 38.8% (n = 685) did not answer suicidality questions. For the statistical analysis, 54.9% of the 13- to 18-year old individuals (1078/1962) who ventured into the Internet Questionnaire web page and answered basic demographic questions (e.g. sex, age, sexual orientation), the suicidality questions, also answered one or more of the harassment questions. Out of 1,967 gay and bisexual males ranging in age from 13 to 18 years who ventured into beginning to answer the very long questionnaire, 1,226 males (White = 973, Of Colour = 253 = 20.6% of males) answered both the suicidality questions and at least one of the harassment questions.

The Seven Harassment Questions ["Harassment" Section (pp. 63-68) of Survey Code Book: 115 pages]:

How many times "_______________" because you are, or were thought to be, queer? Possible Responses: never, once, twice, three or more times.

1. "have you been insulted (yelled at, criticized)"
2. "have you been threatened with physical violence"
3. "have you had an object thrown at you"
4. "have you been punched, kicked or beaten"
5. "have you been threatened with a knife, gun or another weapon"
6. "have you been attacked sexually (forced to have a sexual experience, raped)"
7. "someone threatened to tell someone else that you are queer?"
From the above, seven binary (No/Yes) variables were generated for the analysis.

The Harassment Variable Abbreviation in Tables of Results: 1. "Verbal Abuse", 2. "Threatened Physical", 3. "Objects Thrown", 4. "Assault Physical", 5. "Threatened Weapon", 6. Forced Sex", 7. "Threatened Outing".

Four Suicidality Questions (pp. 77-75) of "Behavior" Section (pp. 69-77) of Survey Code Book.

18. Have you ever tried to kill yourself?

19. How many times have you tried to kill yourself?

22. If a suicide attempt resulted in a visit to a hospital, how long were you in the hospital (for the attempt that received the most care)?

From the above questions, four binary (No/Yes) suicidality variables were generated. They essentially are responses to the following questions. The abbreviation for each variable is given after the question.

1. Have you ever attempted Suicide? "Attempted Suicide"
2. Have you attempted suicide more than once? "Multiple Attempts"
3. Did any suicide attempt(s) result in receiving medical care? "Attempt(s) Medical"
4. Did you attempt suicide multiple times and/or receive medical attention for one or more suicide attempt? "Multiple / Medical"

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