Let’s certainly hope “It Gets Better,” because a lot of men have endured horrific treatment at the hands of peers and strangers just for being who they are. Some of those guys shared their scariest brushes with homophobia in a recent Reddit thread, and their anecdotes are appalling. Here’s a sampling, edited only for readability:

  • My so-called friend asked me [if] I am gay because I act very cartoony. I said no. Then he told me I am his best friend. Then he said he will kill me if I’m gay. He said his family shot gays. We lived far apart and went to different colleges, so after three years, I told him I’m gay, and he blocked me. He called me after two months with another number to say sorry, but I was over him at that point. I blocked him again and told him not to call me ever again.

Related: ER nurse who ranted against LGBTQ people is officially unemployed

  • I was 13 in a Geography class, and the guys on the same table as me were discussing how much they’d love to torture a gay guy.
  • My best friend in high school was really Republican and homophobic, actually, but I guess the worst experience was when I was bullied on the school bus and these guys gathered around my seat and just talked sh*t about how obviously gay I was, despite the fact [that] at that time I was trying my best to hide it, so it hurt even more that being in the closet didn’t spare me the harassment. I also was called f*ggot at a bus stop just by some random passerby. I went the f*ck off on him. You could tell he was not expecting that lol.

When I was on a first date with this guy and a group of people from my background started making fun of us in my mother tongue throughout the entire date. They assumed I was a different background. I had to pretend nothing was off and that I was enjoying myself. When you’re slightly closeted, it was like hearing all of your deep doubts out loud, but I couldn’t even react.

Related: University stands behind professor’s vehemently antigay social media posts

  • In elementary school, a group of guys tried to take all my clothes off to find out if I was really a boy because I was so feminine. Those same guys would follow me around town on their bikes and kick and spit on me. I was also forced to play sports by my parents and was on teams with them. They would throw rocks at me constantly. Or the many times in elementary school where we would play various types of tag in gym or recess and I couldn’t play because nobody wanted to touch me.
  • In the late ‘80s and through the ‘90s, I was deeply involved in HIV testing, counseling, and prevention. I was also involved in helping isolated and abandoned gay men who were dying of AIDS. This was in a conservative part of the country. On three separate occasions, a gang of gay-bashers came to my house and threatened violence. The first time, a neighbor came out with a shotgun and told them to get and not come back. I ran off the two following groups with my own shotgun. Those were exciting times, in the worst possible way.

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