I mentioned earlier that the shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church had jump-started my return to the LGBT
Even if this man hopefully acted alone it is chilling to all progressive people and groups, like the Unitarians. Are we free to express our views, indeed to allow our children to perform in a church play?
Th answer, of course, is no. Well, sort of. Maybe. Not really.
You’re free to express your views, and you’re free to allow you’re children to perform in a church play. (Though some people will tell you it’s not “real” church and what you practice isn’t a “real” religion.) You’re just not safe. You’re views, if the offend or upset some patriot citizen, may get you berated at the very least, beaten up, if you’re lucky, and perhaps worse. But you take that risk by being a liberal.
“You know when I see somebody burning the flag, I’m a Baptist preacher I’m not a Mennonite, I feel it’s my obligation to whip him. In the name of the Lord, of course. I feel it’s my obligation to whip him, and if I can’t do it then I look up some of my athletes to help me. … But, as long as at 72 I can handle most of the jobs I do it myself, and I don’t think it’s un-spiritual. When I, when I, when I hear somebody talking about our military and ridiculing and saying terrible things about our President, I’m thinking you know just a little bit of that and I believe the Lord would forgive me if I popped him.”
– Jerry Falwell, during a September 25, 2005, sermon to his Thomas Road Baptist Church congregation
And, again, this one from Ann Coulter.
“When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker [John Walker Lindh, the American Talib] is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors.”
– at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2002, in Crystal City, VA.
Now, substitute “gay” for “liberal.” The message is clear, right down to the use of violence to “physically intimidate” people and make sure they don’t get out of line or forget their “place.” The occasional dead or beaten liberal (or queer, or nigger, etc.) is an effective reinforcement of the above.
Yes, you’re free to be whoever or whatever you are. You can gather with other people like yourself, and even take over whole neighborhoods. You can walk down the street holding hands with your S.O. You’re free to do that. But you’re not safe. Your openly identifying as LGBT, or appearing to be such, may inflame some righteous citizen, and may get you rebuked, beaten, or worse. But that’s a risk you take by being homosexual.
After that follows the assertion that you should expect the above. You want to be able to express your views safely? Don’t be liberal. You want to be able to walk down the street and hold hands with your spouse? Don’t be gay. Otherwise, you’re not safe.
Whether it’s an organized activity — like lynching — or an individual incident, a hate crime directed against a person or persons sends a message to everyone else who belongs to that group: you are not safe; watch yourself; this can happen to you.
In some places, being gay means you can’t even walk down the street safely, because you are targeted for violence because you’re gay. The LGBT Hate Crimes Project includes stories of people who’ve experienced just this, like Michael Wren and Lisa Craig.
What happened to Jimmy Lee Dean is just one more example.
Jimmy Lee Dean, 42, is a bisexual man from Oak Lawn, TX, who was attacked and beaten while walking home with a friend on July 16, 2008, by two men who yelled anti-gay epithets during the attack.
Dean, a native of Cincinnati, has lived in Dallas for about 20 years, and had lost contact with his family. Dean works as a freelance web designer, but his true love is music and playing his guitar, and his goal is to open a home recording studio to help other artists cut demos.Around midnight on July 17, Dean left Alexandre’s — one of two gay bars he’d been to that night — and began walking back towards his apartment complex 50 yards away. Michael Robinson, a 48-year-old gay man and car salesman, walked out of Zini’s Pizzaria around the same time. He encountered Dean, who was walking in the same direction, and the two struck a conversation.1)
Near the corner of Throckmorton Street and Dickerson Avenue, they passed Bobby Jack Singleton, 26, and Jonathan Gunter Gunter, 31, walking in the opposite direction. Dean gave them a nod, having recalled seeing them there before, and kept walking.2) Singleton and Gunter doubled back and came up behind Robinson and Dean. Robinson turned to confront them.
A verbal exchange occurred between the parties, and Robinson urged Dean to keep walking. When Singleton and Gunter got between him and Dean, Robinson ran to his apartment one block away and retrieved a kitchen knife. When he returned, Dean lay on the ground with Singleton and Gunter kicking him, stomping his face and yelling things like “you gay ass motherfucker, punk-ass bitch,” according to Robinson.3)
Singleton and Gunter attacked Dean, pistol-whipped him with a 9mm Glock handgun, as well as kicking and stomping his head, face, and body. Witnesses said that Singleton and Gunter used anti-gay epithets before, during, and after the attack.4)
When Robinson approached with the knife, the one of the men pulled the gun on him that they’d used to beat Dean. Distracted, they began walking a way from Dean. Norman Draper, 26, a heterosexual passing motorist acting as designated driver for some gay friends, saw Singleton and Gunter pass behind his car on foot, and saw Dean lying in the street. Draper left his vehicle, put flares on the road, and called 911. A former security officer and Police Explorer, he used latex gloves to retrieve the gun that Singleton and Gunter had tossed into some high grass, as well as a bloody knife lying next to Dean.5) Singleton and Gunter were apprehended at the scene by security guards from the nearby clubs. They were arrested and held on bail; $300,000 for Singleton, and $300,500 for Gunter.6) They were charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, because investigators recovered a set of keys and a Zippo lighter from them, which belonged to Dean.7)
Dean was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital. He suffered a broken jaw and vertebrae, as well as facial fractures and swelling. Witnesses at the scene said that after the beating, Dean’s nosed was attached only by a piece of skin. His injuries were so bad that police were unable to interview him for days after the attack.8)
Singleton and Gunter later admitted to police that they’d targeted Dean because they thought it would be easier to rob a gay man.9)
On July 31, the Dallas County prosecutors announced that they would not seek hate crimes charges against Singleton and Gunter. Dallas police plan to categorize the attack as a hate crime for statistical purposes. Prosecutors, however, decided not to pursue hate crime charges because Singleton and Gunter already face the maximum penalty — up to 99 years — if convicted. Texas law dictates that a hate crimes designation is made during the sentencing face of a trial, after conviction.10)