Thursday, February 19, 2004

meanwhile

A colleague share with me today that a friend of hers from out-of-state was attacked by a group of young men and is now in a hospital. The friend (who is a college professor) has received major damage to his face that will require facial re-construction. Oh, he is gay, and according to my colleague, this is why he was beaten up.

I don't know any other details, but I told her that I would pray for her friend. And I will pray for his tormenters, too.

Questions arise. Was he merely walking down the street alone in a neighborhood that has a lot of gay people? Was he dressed gay (whatever that means)? Did he make a pass? Was he holding another man's hand in public? Each of these could have triggered the actions. None of these situations warrant this kind of action.

Did he try to have sex with a minor? Did he try to rape someone? Those questions arise, too, usually in the context of a defendant who is trying to explain why they did what they did. It goes without saying that having sex with a minor or raping someone is wrong, evil, and should always be prevented. From what my friend has told me, that doesn't appear to be the case with her friend.

My own sense of safety is pretty good. I probably learned a long time ago how not to provoke folk in public, although on two or three occasions I've been verbally threatened by college or high school age young men.

The first time was when a friend and I were walking down the street and a car pulled up with kids who began yelling obscenities at us for being gay. I never quite understood what provoked them. They drove on, but I'll never forget the look in one fellow's face as he continued to yell at us.

Back in the 1990s, Partner and I put a small rainbow flag on our car bumper. Within about a week, we encountered two quite scary incidents, again from cars of college age kids. The first encounter was in Austin on a night when ironically we had just spent time with friends to celebrate their anniversary as partners. The second time happened on the highway when we were driving to Fort Worth to see an art exhibition. The flag came off the car after the second event. It was obviously not a coincidence.

In all three events, the operative phrase among each group was you deserve to die.

Growing up in Texas, living for some years in DC, I've always thought I was intelligent about avoiding violence, whether it was gay-related or not. This is the human condition. We don't push people to violence. But I don't think I'll ever understand the need to hurt people because they are different. I certainly don't understand the need to hurt gay folk because they are gay. This behavior is beyond sickness.

We all censor ourselves a bit, hold back, don't try to stir folk up. That's life.

On the other hand, we also don't have to be scared or intimidated when it comes to standing up for our love, for our families, for our partnerships, for our children. That's why the national debate over marriage is an important one, and why those of us who are gay, or who support the equal rights of gay folk, ought to be heard in the debate. That is why it is important to challenge Bush and any politician who cite a mantra but refuse to explain exactly what their problem is with gay marriage.

1 comment:

qishaya said...
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