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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

It has been 12 years since the death of Matthew Shepard

It has been 12 years since Matthew Shepard died from being brutally attacked and tortured by homophobes What was done to him was horrific – so horrendous that it finally served as something of a wake up call. There was outrage, there was fury – and there was a great deal of grief.

People shouldn’t have to suffer like this just because they are GBLTQ. A 21 year old shouldn’t be tortured and killed because he was gay. Lives shouldn’t be cut so horrifically short because the person living them is not straight and cisgendered. It shouldn’t have to be said – but it CANNOT be said enough times.

And the reason why it cannot be repeated enough is because the lesson is not being learned. Because people are not listening to us.

In New York a gang of 9-10 men (originally it was reported as 9 but a further seems to have been implicated) kidnapped and tortured 3 men for being gay.

And that “tortured” was not hyperbole. They were burned, they were beaten. For hours. They asked their 17 year old victim to choose what he would be beaten with. They were anally raped with objects.

Within a week of the anniversary of the brutal attack and torture of Matthew Shephard, 3 more gay men were being tortured horrifically – for being gay.

 

We like to talk about progress. We like to talk about how far we’ve come, how much things have changed.

Well, how far have we come? How much has changed? Because if there’s one thing keeping my eyes open for this bad news has taught me is that we haven’t come very far at all – and we still have a hellaciously long way to go. It has taught me that the hate is still there – as bad and as violent and as prevalent as it was 12 years ago. That people -kids! – are still dying and still suffering, as they were 12 years ago. And the straight lead governments and straight lead society will trot out the same platitudes and mouth the same words of shock – and then go RIGHT back to spreading constant heteronormativity at best – and utter, virulent hate at worst

 

And we will be told “be patient.”

 

And we will be told “there are more important issues.”

 

And we will be told “you’re focusing on the wrong thing.”

 

And we will be told “we can’t do that right now.”

 

And we will be told “it’s not hate, it’s religion/culture/generation”

 

And we will be told “think of the children!”

 

And we will be told “we need to look at both sides of the issue.”

 

And it will continue. The loss will continue, the deaths will continue, the lives lost and the lives ruins and the lives that have to constantly struggle and fight to just be seen as human will continue.

 

And we will be told “you’re whining”

 

And we will be told “they’re not civil rights”

 

And we will be told “don’t be so selfish”

 

And we will be told “don’t be so melodramatic”

 

And it will continue, for another 12 years, 20 years, 50 years. It will continue.

 

Politicians will continue to peddle hate for votes – with New York candidate for governor Paladino talking about gays “brainwashing children” Yes, during the American history month, yes right next to National Coming out day, yes right next to the anniversary of Matthew Shephard’s death – yes, in the same week as these brutal and horrific attacks in New York – he still brings out the anti-gay hate.

With Senator DeMint declaring that gays and single women shouldn’t be teachers

With N.C Rep Larry Brown referring to gays as “queers” and “fruitloops”

 

When any expression of our being is seen as a threat that needs to be suppressed. With pride parades attacked – in Serbia petrol bombs and rocks were thrown at police to try and over 100 people injured.  Lesbians at a sporting event in Baltimore forced to leave because they kissed. A teacher fired for being openly gay

 

With bigoted attacks constantly happening – a trans woman in New Jersey murdered, a trans woman sexually attacked in prison by a prison guard. A gay man being attacked in the Stonewall Inn and another attacked in Chelsea New York.  A gay man in Edinburgh being beaten to unconsciousness with even straight people being attacked because their attackers thought they were gay

 

With religion being used to demonise us, with an Islamic group in indonesia raiding cultural centres to remove any mention of a gay film festival The Church of Latter Day Saints Apostle Boyd K. Packer letting loose with an anti-gay screed WalMart selling a homophobic book – aimed at children -but the LDS group Standard of Liberty

 

Our children repeatedly driven to the edge of despair, with yet another gay teen driven to suicide and the family of a trans student who was also driven to suicide speak out

 

Where the media continues to bow to prejudice and pander to hate: The New Jersey Jewish Standard APOLOGISING for publishing an announcement of a same-sex marriage The Washington Times posts a disgusting homophobic attack against out families. While the Washington Post publishes a hate filled speech by the Family Research Council, who the Southern Poverty Law Centre calls a hate group

 

It will continue – and every death, every loss, every moment of pain will be on the heads of those who do not listen. The ones who spread hate, the ones who try to silence us, the ones who tell us to sit down and shut up and play nice. They will be the ones responsible. I wonder, in another 12 years time, if any of them will stop and think of what they’ve done.

And I wonder if they’ll care?