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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gay victim of bully blamed, not bully, in 1961

Opie shows his black eye to father Andy and Barney in Andy Griffith TV show 1961

PHOTO: Opie Taylor, played by actor Ron Howard, proudly brags about getting a black eye from standing up to and fighting a bully at school after he had been instructed to do so by his Sheriff father Andy Taylor and the Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife in the TV show The Andy Griffith Show "Opie and the Bully" Original Airdate October 2, 1961. The cable Comcast TV Guide listing description of the show in 2013 said, "Opie must find the courage to face up to a bully who keeps taking his lunch money -- and Andy must find the courage to let him. (Comedy 30 mins.)" "The Andy Griffith Show" was televised by CBS between October 3, 1960, and April 1, 1968. Andy Griffith portrays the widowed sheriff of the fictional small community of Mayberry, North Carolina. His life is complicated by an inept, but well-meaning deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts), a spinster aunt and housekeeper, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), and a precocious young son, Opie (Ron Howard). See List of The Andy Griffith Show characters.

The 1961 TV show episode "Opie and the Bully" epitomized the homophobic culture that gay men faced fifty years ago. The 1950's era code of manhood made it clear that all "real men" would fight anybody who challenged their dominance or manhood because if they didn't fight back it would mean they were weak and effeminate or in others words they were a fag, a queer, or a homosexual -- gay or transgendered in today's words. Also, fathers who had not instructed their sons in how to fight and stand up to a bully would be accused of being bad fathers because their failure to teach their boy the code of manhood would cause the boy to grow up and be gay.

Throughout history, nearly every gay or queer boy has been a victim of a bully who targeted the boy probably because the boy was perceived to be gay. In my experience, boys who were bullied often got blamed for it, instead of the bully, by adults and school officials for "causing it" by acting gay and for not having fought back like a man. Fortunately, today the anti-bullying programs have raised awareness and it is now more likely that gay boys, who are a victim of a bully, can more easily find help and the bully's behavior is less likely to be tolerated by adults.