Most of what is known about the perpetrators of anti-gay violence is reported by victims of such violence. None the less, it is obvious from such reports that 'gay bashers' are overwhelmingly young men who operate in groups, sometimes at gay cruising sites or near gay bars. Drawing on finding from interviews with 30 gay bashers in the Netherlands - whose cooperation was mediated by the police - this paper analyses gay bashing as a rite of passage into masculinity. Most interviewees, regardless of their ethnic background, shared a common psychological habitus and cultural ontology. All were poorly individualized, lacked autonomy and often their self-esteem was low or highly exaggerated or both. What they feared most was to become the object of desire for gay men, whom they considered to be dishonourable, weak and effeminate. Interviewees believed themselves to have acquired a masculine status, which above all meant that they were strong. The suggestion is made that with its growing visibility, homosexuality plays an increasingly problematic role in male socialization.