Hearing about the death of Stanley Waipouri has made me pretty upset. It seems quite likely now that he died at the hands of straight-but-not-so-straight men who sought to re-establish their heterosexuality through the ultimate act of killing a sexual deviant. At his funeral a friend recalled that he “had a thing for straight men”, which could get him into trouble.

This is the most extreme form of compulsory heterosexuality that, I assure you, is particularly widespread in New Zealand. It ranges from the psychological oppression of the moralists, those that would attack you verbally, social isolation growing up and in school, the media, etc., to the more physical oppression of bullying, being beaten, shoved and tripped up in school hallways, chased down urban streets at night, and in the worst cases killed.

I remember how the only guy at my high school to come out, in 4th form, was abused and beaten and quickly forced to drop out. This was a lesson for me. I learnt not only to behave as if I were straight for fear of this abuse, but I also learnt, just like every straight boy at that school, to police other people’s sexuality for instances of anything remotely deviant.

The story of Jeff Whittington, especially, was the first and most terrifying instance of violence against gays I remember, and taught me the risk of being gay in a straight society. He was murdered only a couple of km from where I am right now, in fact, on the 8th May 1999. Jeff, who apparently looked a bit too gay, was picked up by two guys at a local petrol station under the pretext of giving him a ride home. Instead, they drove him to a secluded area and proceeded to punch him and kick him in the head, stomping on his head at least once. They later went home and bragged that they had “fucked up a faggot and left him for dead” and that “the faggot was bleeding out of places I have never seen before”. Jeff later died in hospital from brain swelling and perforations to his bowel. His attackers thought he was 20 (and thus it was OK?) but when they later learned he was only 14 years old they turned themselves in.

This is one of the more extreme cases, but I can think of at least five murders since that have been motivated by sexuality and literally hundreds of instances of unreported low-level violence that happens everyday. This is the violence of compulsory heterosexuality.