As we see progress it can be easy to start to become comfortable but that all ends quickly every time a new case of hate crime surfaces. Then it becomes apparent how much work we have left to do. It goes to show the dangers of being gay with so much hatred out in the world. It is one thing to spew hatred via words but when that turns to physical violence then it can turn deadly.
Those who say things like why do gay people always have to talk about equality or something like that don’t have a clue what a day in the life of a gay person is like. What it is like to face hatred and discrimination just because of who they love. The fear that one goes through when you walk into a new area that you are unsure of the tolerance level. Working at a new job and feeling the need to hide who you are until you find out everyone is accepting. This can be a typical response without hearing of any gay bashings but when that happens it really hits home the dangers of being gay, especially if it happens in your neighborhood.
I lived in Columbus, Ohio for close to three years. So when I heard about the three separate vicious attacks and robbery at the local gay bar (Exile) within the last few days, I was extremely saddened and angered by these events. So much that I felt compelled to write this entry into my blog. All three attacks were committed near gay establishments which makes it clear to me that these were motivated by hate. Thankfully all three of the victims weren’t seriously injured but they will have a long road to recovery both physically and mentally. Research by UC Davis psychologists indicates that Hate crimes based on sexual orientation have more serious psychological effects – including depression, stress, and anger – than did lesbian and gay survivors of comparable non-bias-motivated crimes.
Tragically often hate crimes turn deadly, just look at Matthew Shepard, James Byrd, Jr. and Harvey Milk. Victims of hate crimes are often tortured and severely abused before being murdered just like in the case of Matthew Shepard who was left for dead tied to a fence.
This isn’t the first time this year a city has been hit with a hate crime spree. New York City has also seen a rise in hate crimes. The number of lgbt related hate crimes has doubled from 14 to 29, say local police. The New York City Anti-Violence Project also states that acts of violence, and verbal assault are on the rise particularly in Queens and the Bronx.
Just perform a google search for hate crimes and the results will shock you. It was only recently that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed and signed into law in 2009. While hate crimes could be expected in areas that aren’t populated by gay people or rural areas the surprising fact is that many of these acts are carried out in heavily gay populated areas. Areas that are known for being very gay friendly like the Short North in Columbus, which has numerous gay establishments.
Personally I believe as we start to see more general acceptance of gay rights and equality as a nation the more we will see hate crimes commitmented and the reason for that is that the more you push someone who is fueled by hatred the more the rage starts to bubble inside. Anything that pushes them out of the box and brings potential harm to their safety net will send them out of orbit.
That is why it never been more important to stand up and keep our voices loud. Stick together and stay alert, even in gay friendly areas because all it takes is one hateful person to cause trouble. It’s not about living in fear, it’s about staying proactive and safe, especially if it’s at night.
If people could only see beyond gay marriage and see that isn’t just about the paper but the rights behind it, as well as the many other laws that discriminate against like housing, adoption and job security.
Personally I am not going to let these events put me in a state of fear and cause me go back into the closet. I am going to stand and fight. It is going to take everyone to stand up together including our allies.
I believe that love will always conquer hate, always…
If you live in the Ohio area and have been a victim of a hate crime contact Bravo, 866-862-7286.
If you live in NYC contact The Anti-Violence Project at 214-714-1141.
Through AVP and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs you can also find a list of your local Anti-Violence Program below. Here is their number as well, 212-714-1184.