Monday, October 4, 2010

Disturbing Matters -- and the Stonewall Again!

It's a shame to realize that even in these much more [but not completely] enlightened times there are still young gay men (and women) killing themselves. There's the tragic case of Tyler Clementi [pictured] who committed suicide after his roommate at Rutgers and another "friend" taped him having a homoerotic encounter and then posted it on the Internet. These people may not have thought Tyler was doing anything wrong, they may have felt they were doing the right thing in "outing" him, but a.) they were committing a gross invasion of privacy [which would have been the case even had the encounter been heteroerotic in nature] and b.) they should have realized that "coming out" is a rite of passage that everyone comes to in his or her own time. Outing hypocritical homophobes is one thing; an 18-year-old college student is another. [The legal aspects of this are so, sadly, fascinating that you can bet this story will be used as the basis for a Law and Order:SVU episode as well as many others].

Tyler probably had other issues. He seems like a sensitive young man. He was not conventionally handsome but he had a sweet face and other qualities that may have in time attracted someone to share his life with him, had that been what he desired. His roommate took what might have been a tentative first step into finding and accepting himself and turned it, whatever his intentions, into a dirty joke. Tyler may not have killed himself over being gay, but it's clear that having his actions taped and displayed for all the world to see drove him over the edge.

Despite all the achievements in Gay Rights, gay teen suicide is still a very real and terrible issue.

As is homophobia in general. Although things are much better than they once were, there still are plenty of reports that remind us that to some people we're as hated as ever.

Just the other day a man was gay-bashed in the famous [or infamous] Stonewall bar here in New York. Not that this surprises me, as I had an unpleasant encounter there myself many moons ago. The victim was taking an honest piss when they guy beside him asked what kind of bar it was, and when he discovered he was in -- gasp! -- a gay bar, took out his aggression on the customer. Another straight guy joined in. Both of the gay-bashers were arrested.

What kills me is that the Stonewall is claiming they do everything to protect their customers, to have a safe environment for everyone. But how did this [probably] shit-faced straight guy [or self-hater] get into the bar in the first place? There used to be a time when bouncers in gay bars made sure that every customer, especially the straight ones who wandered in, were aware they were in a gay bar, so that they could withdraw -- or be refused admittance -- if their reaction was hostile or negative. Now most gay bars don't even bother to do this, the reason allegedly being that gays and straights mingle more today and no one should be excluded etc. etc. but which really has more to do with money. Years ago straight people entered gay bars with their gay friends, and they were generally cool and respectful. Now we get inebriated meatheads who bounce in, unaware they're in a gay bar or too drunk to care [until they're made aware of it], and gay customers wind up paying the price for it.

I hope the guy who was gay-bashed sues the straight owners of the Stonewall. [Yes, they are straight, don't let anybody fool you. They gave a gay bartender at their other place, the Duplex down the street, a piece of the action and made him manager so they can say it's "gay-owned," which is a trifle disingenuous in my opinion.] The Stonewall gets the overflow from the Duplex, and it's been said that Duplex employees encourage [are told to encourage] the mostly straight, generally drunken tourists pouring out of the Duplex to go to the Stonewall; sometimes they mix with the gay customers like oil and water.

One of the gay-bashers' lawyers claims it wasn't a hate crime. But even if the guy turns out to be homosexual himself, it doesn't matter. If you beat somebody up because they're gay and call them a fag all the while it's a hate crime, be assured.

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