Violence against Queer People

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Meyer (2015) contends in his book Violence against Queer People that additional factors that are a fundamental part of their identity serve to exacerbate the problem of prejudice against non-heterosexual and transgender people. He clarifies how social class affects issues with violence and prejudice against homosexuals and lesbians in particular. For instance, a gay man with a high social status will receive different treatment than a gay man with a low income and a lower social status. Additionally, because of the social norms of male dominance, lesbians are viewed differently and are more frequently the targets of violence from heterosexual men than homosexual men. Finally, Meyer (2015) explains that racism is a significant aspect in understanding of violence against queer people as the black LGBT member groups experience more frequent and severe forms of violence compared to the white communities in the United States. The worst situation is the one of a low-class black woman living in a male-dominated community in the US.

Although we live in post-modernity era and at the time when feminism has made great strides, discrimination against women is still prevalent. The male-dominated society treats women as inferior and less powerful than men. Additionally, the physical strength gives men an advantage. Misogyny, which is hatred towards women, is rampant among heterosexual men towards lesbians. Such hatred is manifested in actions like physical and emotional abuse. Among the lesbian community, it is common to hear women referred to as “whores” and “bitches”, as noted by Meyer (2015). Such women also find themselves as victims of rape and sexual assault by men especially when such men are aware of the identity of lesbians. Such situation compromises the safety and security of women in significant ways. Wilson (2017) notes that the sexual assault in on the rise given that such women are judged and regarded as failing to conform to widely-accepted social order and standards of normality. The occurrence of violence against lesbians holding hands in public is common despite the fact that harassment in public places would be an infringement of one’s freedom to public life and protection by law.

In the United States, there is a high correlation between race and social class. Most Americans belong to the middle class and to a large extent, they tend to hold a higher social status than the majority of African American population. Meyer (2015) continues to state that where a person is born, the neighborhood they grow up and the schools they attend, determine their social status and treatment by others. Interestingly, sex between two white men is more likely to be condoned and not regarded as gayism while sex between black men is despised and seen as social evil, as suggested by Ward (2015). The discrimination against the gays and lesbians in the African American community occurs in almost all spheres of life. For instance, when health care providers realize that a person is homosexual, they treat them with prejudice, mistrust and poor quality services (Eaton, Driffin, Kegler, Smith, Conway-Washington, White, and Cherry, 2015). In fact, the emotional abuse is aggravated in case if the individual has sexually transmitted disease like HIV/AIDS, since the healthcare personnel disregards their health challenges as something that was avoidable (Eaton et al., 2015). In the treatment of suspects of crime, during the interrogation process, an African American gay man will likely to experience physical violence of greater magnitude when the police realize their sexual orientation even though it has nothing to do with the offense (Meyer, 2015). Meyer (2015) continues to suggest that the treatment would have been different if the man was white and heterosexual. The homophobia against black lesbians and gays make it even prevalent in schools and public offices where victims mostly suffer emotional abuse or outright stigmatization.

The low class and especially homeless black people experience higher forms of emotional and physical abuse. Being unable to afford housing and decent livelihood is already in itself a predisposing factor for violence and abuse. This situation gets worse especially for the young black generation who have LGBT orientation given that they experience physical assaults as suspects of crime. Additionally, these black youths also find themselves as victims of microaggressions like sexualization, community and police harassment as well as commodification, as argued by Gattis and Larson (2017). The perceived notions and persistent attitudes towards the black population get aggravated and the society keeps discriminating the poor black gay men, lesbians and bisexual individuals. The outcome of such treatment is high levels of depression and stress among the blacks. Also, as self-worth and esteem reduce because of discrimination and violence, issues of self-harm and suicide are higher among homeless black people in the LGBT community compared to the Native American counterparts, as Almeida, Johnson, Corliss, Molnar, and Azrael (2009) highlight.

Additionally, Meyer (2015) presents the outright antithesis between the privilege of middle class white gay men and the difficulty of low-class lesbians and gays. The privilege of the queer white men who are middle class is because male domination in the US is praised and the middle-class individuals are held in high esteem making them the most privileged among the queer people. Such is a reflection of the mainstream United States society in a general manner. Meyer (2015) explains how the murder of white gay men receives media and political attention as opposed to the murder of transgender women which is more rampant, especially as he cites the 1998 death of Matthew Shepard, a college student who was killed. Notably, when such events receive media coverage, the details that would further complicate the situation are omitted from the presentation. For instance, Matthew was HIV positive, yet that was hidden from the public, but matters of him being male, middle class and white were overrepresented. It is against this background and others similar to this throughout history that necessitated the citizens to argue against the Homosexual Panic Defense (HPD), as Helmers (2017) suggested. In the United States, the situation is likely to continue as white and black population receive quite distinct treatment across the mainstream US. The Hispanics, Latinos or Black Americans at most times are viewed as illegitimate victims of violence since they are perceived as non-conforming to the traditional representation in the US, as Meyer notes (2015). In the discussion, those interviewed argued that the emphasis of giving attention to middle class white gay men is a positive thing that seeks to communicate to the society that violence is widespread across all the queer people, and that means there is a need for anti-queer people discrimination. Without the inclusion of the middle class, the problem may be trivialized since it is only occurring among the low class. However, this approach is problematic as it presents maleness, whiteness and high class as ideal and despises the non-whites, female or low class. Even the anti-queer policies that may be enacted would only be favorable to that same privileged group.

In conclusion, the marginalization and violence against queer people that is worsened by their gender, social class or race, reinforces the already existing disproportionate power divisions, racism, and classism. It makes the non-white individual look immoral and non-conforming to the traditional structures in the US. The discrimination is also propagated in schools, homes, public spaces and workplaces. Sadly, this discrimination and violence based on the homophobia limit the access of public service like healthcare facilities for the queer people. It also results in increased levels of depression and suicide and self-harm occurrences among the victims. As Meyer explains (2015), the outcome of this is a contribution to the already widened gap between the low class and middle class. Fear of stigmatization and prejudice may limit the non-native queer people in the US from accessing medical or psychological help to deal with the challenges that are unique to them as queer people. In fact, it has increased the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among black gay men in the United States. Throughout the book’s research study and interviews with the queer people, it is evident that homophobia is not the only cause of discrimination and in doing this, Meyer challenges the cultural discourse and arguments.


Almeida, J., Johnson, R. M., Corliss, H. L., Molnar, B. E., & Azrael, D. (2009). Emotional distress among LGBT youth: The influence of perceived discrimination based on sexual orientation. Journal of youth and adolescence, 38(7), 1001-1014.

Eaton, L. A., Driffin, D. D., Kegler, C., Smith, H., Conway-Washington, C., White, D., & Cherry, C. (2015). The role of stigma and medical mistrust in the routine health care engagement of black men who have sex with men. American journal of public health, 105(2), e75-e82.

Gattis, M. N., & Larson, A. (2017). Perceived Microaggressions and Mental Health in a Sample of Black Youths Experiencing Homelessness. Social Work Research, 41(1), 7-17

Helmers, M. T. (2017). Death and Discourse: The History of Arguing Against the Homosexual Panic Defense. Law, Culture and the Humanities, 13(2), 285-301.

Meyer, D. (2015). Violence against queer people: Race, class, gender, and the persistence of anti-LGBT discrimination. Rutgers University Press.

Wilson, J. K. (2017). Unfolding Knowledge on Sexual Violence Experienced by Black Lesbian Survivors in the Townships of Cape Town, South Africa. EJSER European Journal of Social Sciences Education and Research Articles, 10.

Ward, J. (2015). Not gay: Sex between straight white men. NYU Press.

April 06, 2023


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