A 12-year-old boy in Atlanta is in protective custody after an Instagram Live stream showed relatives shaving the word "gay" into his hair.
The boy, reportedly named Tyler, can be seen getting slapped and verbally abused by several adults, allegedly his own family. According to MetroWeekly, a second video posted to the same account showed the boy being prompted to say he was not abused in the previous video, and that his family was good and only trying to help him. Police determined the location of the home and removed Tyler into protective custody pending an investigation.
"Now we gonna show them you getting your ass beat," the woman apparently recording can be heard warning Tyler.
The disturbing video, which the Atlanta Police Department described as "difficult to watch" and "absolutely unacceptable," showed the adults slapping, pushing, and hurling anti-gay insults at the young defenseless boy.
"You say you’re what?" one man asked in an apparent reference to Tyler’s sexuality.
"Nothing," Tyler replied meekly.
"And he like this shit," a woman can be heard in the background.
"You still doing gay shit," the man continued. "You think this on the side of your head for no reason?"
The group continues slapping, pushing, and insulting Tyler.
In a second video, MetroWeekly reported Tyler could be seen defending his family after a voice in the background told him to "say it."
"My brother and them, they didn’t abuse me," Tyler said in the second video. "They were just showing me like you need to stop doing that."
The public was quickly outraged.
"So often in the Black community, we’re not given the tools that are needed to identify or understand [gender or sexuality]," Terence Stewart, president of the LGBTQ+ group Atlanta Black Pride, told the Daily Dot. "There is no doubt from this video that this is not the first time this child has gone through this."
Atlanta Police said in a statement they were "appreciative of the number of people who flagged this case with us and for those who provided information on the location" of Tyler and others in the video.
"Investigators were able to find the incident location and identify the juvenile and he was placed in the care of the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) on the evening of 6/18/2021," Atlanta Police said in the statement posted to Facebook. "At this time, we are working closely with DFCS and the investigation continues."
Stewart said the abuse was horrific and most likely ongoing, and that Tyler will need love and support to overcome the harsh words and deeds of his family.
"But your rejection and constant belittling will destroy whatever self-esteem they have left," Stewart said. "When they enter into society, they enter as a broken person."
While the news was grim for Tyler, the story contrasted with one Oklahoma dad who helped his son hang a Pride flag outside their home in a conservative Florida town. The video went viral and showed the right way to support and nurture LGBTQ+ youth.