The Healthy Bear On Homophobic Violence

Hey there Guys,

For everyone who had celebrated Sydney Mardi Gras I hope you had a wonderful time and that your evening was filled with much joy and happy memories.

For one friend of mine this sadly was not the case.

On the way home from attending the parade one of my mates was assaulted by a group of young men. Thankfully he is OK but today I thought it was important to acknowledge that despite the steps we have made towards acceptance, violence is still a problem. There is plenty of evidence that homophobia is still a motivating factor for some acts of violence.

An interesting 2003 survey by The Attorney General’s Department “You Shouldn’t Have To Hide To Be Safe” highlights the prevalence of violence in the gay and lesbian community of NSW Australia:

More than half (56%) of the respondents reported having experienced one or more forms of homophobic abuse, harassment or violence in the past 12 months. Eighty-five per cent had at some time experienced such abuse, harassment or violence.

The three types of abuse most commonly experienced, both in the past year and ever, were verbal abuse; harassment such as spitting, offensive gestures, being followed etc; and threatened or attempted physical attack/assault. Other respondents reported experiencing property damage/vandalism/theft; written threats or abuse/hate mail; physical attack with or without a weapon; and sexual assault.

The Streetwatch Report by The  Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby in 1990 identified the following characteristics of violence against gay and lesbian people:

…the perpetrators of violence are usually male (94 per cent). They tend to be young, with 83 per cent estimated to be under 25 years of age, including 43 per cent less than 20-years-old.

The perpetrators most commonly act in groups and are usually strangers to the victim (93 per cent). The victim may be alone but often he is in the company of friends or acquaintances.

Gay men are most likely to be attacked in the street or other public places such as a park; street incidents are primarily in areas known to be gay. The majority of incidents occur between 9 pm and 3 am and involve no weapon, apart from fists and feet.

This picture is consistent with people heading home after a night on the town, the same story as my friend who was attacked.

In Sydney, ACON and Harbour City Bears have been working in collaboration towards a street safety project that was launched as part of the Bears Essentials Bear Pride events.

Advice offered from the team at ACON’s anti-violence campaign include:

  • Walking in groups of friends or at least people you know
  • Avoiding places known to be homophobic, violent or anti-gay
  • Being alert and aware of your surroundings when going between places.

You can review the full list here at the ACON website.

What do I do if I was assaulted?

By far one of the most important things you can do if you are the victim of violence is to report this to the police. Many police units have gay and lesbian liaison officers to make it an easier process. Ff you are not comfortable contacting the police directly consider doing it though groups like the ACON, your local AIDS council or gay and lesbian support group.

Reporting violence is important because “if it’s not reported, it never happened”. Governments, police and also those planning gay and lesbian events need this data to be able to help prevent these acts in the future. I urge you not to be silent if for no other reason then good people doing nothing may allow the violence to continue.

Again I urge you, if you are the victim of any violence or assault report it!

Should I do a self defense course?

My answer to this question is always going to be a resounding, YES!

Be careful though as there are many courses out there that are just glorified tai chi classes. Hand holds, throws and other assorted “techniques” are useless if you have a knife against your throat or a gun sitting against your temple.

Five years ago I was working in a medium secure psychiatric prison. To be honest at times I was scared shitless. Some of these guys were very unwell and unpredictable at times. After much research I was fortunate to read about Tim Larkin an ex navy seal who teaches top quality, medically validated techniques based on anatomy, predictable spinal reflexes that can stop people, dead if need be. Here is Tim in action.

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He teaches you strategies, not techniques on how to stop violence quickly allowing you to get away to safety. I attended a training in Sydney and after 2 days of training I was exhausted and 100% prepared knowing and understanding that the human body has weak points that can be exploited in a reliable predictable way to ensure my safety.

Unfortunatley for us Aussies, Tim is based in the USA but the good news is that he is coming to Australia in July this year. If you are interested in joining me at the training be sure to check out his website, Target Focused Training. It’s not a cheap course but money well spent. I have had to use what I have learned once. It was worth every penny. If you are in the USA, check out his list of classes available. These 2 days may save your life.

So guys, please be safe out there. Despite our advances in gay rights there are still people who are willing to perpetrate violence against us. Be alert, don’t go to dangerous places alone and I urge you to consider some sort of physical safety training. If you have been the victim of violence, please let the police or someone at your local gay and lesbian support centers know. This shit has to stop.

Yours in good health.

Dr George

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