Gay Bashed In Hartford

Today during worship at Hartford Friends Meeting, the story of the Good Samaritan came up and reverberated in subsequent messages. (At Quaker meetings anyone can share a message. We don’t have a sermon or a pastor like they do in churches. Most messages are under five minutes) One of the key messages to emerge today was that in order to be a Good Samaritan, one often needs to see the humanity in people or as we say in Quaker circles “that of God within.” Look beyond the externals of identity to find our kinship.

Wayne, a man in the meeting who always strikes me as such a nice guy, someone with whom I feel I could attend either a baseball game or an opera and have a good time, told the following story.

Back on Christmas Eve in 1990, when he must have been in his early 20’s as he he walked around downtown Hartford with a male friend suddenly a large black SUV pulled up next to them and four young white guys jumped out. Without a word spoken they begin to beat and then kick Wayne and his friend. They hurt them badly. Wayne was unconscious and only learned later after waking up in the hospital how he survived the attack. As Wayne was on the ground already unconscious getting kicked in the head, a car pulled up with four others guys–two Black, two Latinos. They drove off the attackers and picked up Wayne and his friend and brought them in their car to the hospital. In contemporary Hartford with its vast class and race and geographic divides, the story serves as a modern remaking of the Good Samaritan parable.

The police later told Wayne that he and his friend were likely the victims of a hate crime–a gay bashing. Neither one of them are gay though. The assailants seeing two men walking identified them as gay and then targeted them to physically assault. Quite possibly Wayne or his friend would have died without the intervention of those four other guys.

Wayne got to meet the men who saved him and asked, “Why did you stop to help me?” The response was something like, “Because what they were doing to you was wrong and you needed help.”

Simple concepts here that somehow can get confused. Straight people can be gay-bashed. Gay men can be the victims of transphobic crimes. People stand up and become active, informed allies because it is the right thing to do. Simple.


This post has 12 Comments

  1. Lillie on December 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    This makes me homesick for Quaker meeting, I miss you all.

  2. Staśa Morgan-Appel on December 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Blessed be. Love, Stasa

  3. p2son on December 13, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Missed you Lillie. I will have an post-Epiphany open house at Shawn Lang’s on Jan 7 if you are around. Glen will be there too. 🙂

  4. Stephen on December 14, 2009 at 6:57 am

    That’s a really powerful story, and fits in with an interpretation I read of the Good Samaritan story. Something I read said that the point is that the Samaritan was an oppressed person, and BECAUSE of his marginal status, he was more inclinded to help someone in need. Those at the margins see the need for compassion more than those in the centre. So it’s interesting that it was two black guys and two Latino guys who helped out in your story.

  5. Martin Kelley on December 14, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    I’m a straight man who’s occasionally got a little too close to bashing back in my bachelor days. I remember one night when some guys on the other side of a subway door started yelling at me and a male friend. It took me a few moments to realize our crime was our friendship. Some mix of our appearance and our interaction with one another didn’t conform to the proper male ideal (not just that night, various new friends admitted they had assumed we were a couple when they first met us). Gay bashing is as much about how one acts in public than what one does in private. Straight men who smile at other men are apparently dangerous too, a good lesson in solidarity for us. The first impulse is to think “it’s not fair, I’m not even gay!” which begs the follow-up thought “wait a minute, it’s not fair for gays either!”

    (I should disclaim that this is all in the past. The presence of a wife and kids have changed the situation and I’m not setting off anyone’s gaydar these days).

    That’s a great modern-day Samaritan story. I always love hearing variations of it. Thanks for sharing this one.

  6. p2son on December 15, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Martin, thanks so much for commenting. The meeting when this message was shared actually ran 80 minutes. No one seemed like they wanted to go anywhere. Lots of lovely messages–centered and meaningful. Even an NPR message that actually added something to the ministry!

  7. Marlene on December 19, 2009 at 9:29 am

    It’s too bad the Samaritans didn’t get a look at the license plate of the children who assaulted Wayne and his friend.

    Most likely it was a bunch of bored rich boys, quite possibly inebreated, and thought it would be “fun” do beat up some “f*gs”.

    I wonder how much fun it would be if they was a Planet Stonewall we could transport those bigots to and see how *they* like being afraid of gay gangs beating up “breeders”.

    It saddens me to read of so-called “christians” who feel they have the divine right to dictate secular law, and forgetting their lord’s words about treating others, and about the parable of the mote and plank.

  8. gregory brown on December 19, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Yes, smiles are suspicious. I do it, to children and adults I approach walking on the street or in a mall. It usually gets positive responses, except from many men who look startled, the “deer in the headlights” thing. The responses MAY have something to do with an involuntary muscle thing that makes my eyes widen and my eyebrows rise. But it’s to bad people feel threatened by a smile as much as by scowl.

  9. Regan DuCasse on December 20, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    And sometimes…
    The street violence like this, straight friends or brothers walking together…children bullied to the point of suicide: indeed, one doesn’t have to be gay to be a victim of anti gay hate, threat and violence.

    And there are other forms. I’ve been on the receiving end of some quite vicious cyber bullying, attacks and accusation.
    All this for defending gay folks and trying to counter the ignorance, misinformation and outright libel that I see fomented in conservative online journals.

    The average person who is there is much older and tend to declare their Christian identity up front.

    In person, I’ve noticed a determined refusal to talk, especially with those voters who supported Prop. 8. They have removed themselves from any option to be reasoned with or persuaded.

    The usual chatter is extremely accusatory of gay people and describes any rallies, educational access or integration as ‘promotion of homosexuality’, and will describe gay people in terms as if juvenile and incompatible with self reliance or decency.

    When all this manifests in the street as physical assault and verbal battery, the denial of influencing such reactions to and behavior towards gay people is employed.

    It’s constantly a double edged sword gay people and their straight allies are confronted with.

    Although I am threatened sometimes, called names, treated to epithet and so on…I’ll take it.
    I can handle it and I will.

    We aren’t dealing with very brave people, just numerous people. We aren’t dealing with the well meaning, but those who are always reminding us who carries the biggest stick and in what way they are willing to use it, while at the same time, claim that it is gay people whose very existence makes them them most threatening to the dominant culture so therefore the most suspect, guilty and without value.

    Experience with racism and sexism inform me the same
    tactics are and have been employed to maintain some of the cruelest human castes systems ever.

    And our detractors refuse to recognize the resemblance to that in recent history and that it’s result reverberates and causes generations of damage yet to be healed.

    There doesn’t seem to be any care to not repeat this, nor concern that anti gay political and social sentiment kills even children.

    I have a lot of people angry at me, and willing to hurt me in no uncertain terms. But I’m a tenacious person, and I’m not called ‘mama bear’ for nothing.

    Be well everyone. Love gives us courage we are blessed to know.

  10. p2son on December 20, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Thank you Regan! I love how you bring in your own experience in order to broaden understanding and deepen critical thinking.

  11. Marlene on December 21, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Your comment on the bigots not being very brave is spot on! Put them in a crowd, and they’ll spew the most vile vindictives and throw around wild claims, but get them one-on-one, and they’ll cower like a whipped puppy.

    I’ve said on numerous blogs and in guest lectures, let’s put the bigots on Planet Stonewall, where the popular slur is “breeder”, and gangs of TLBG youth go out hunting for breeders who dare leave their part of town. Where TV preachers talk about these perverts who refuse to recognise their natural homosexuality and leave it for the perversion of heterosexuality, which only leads to overpopulation.

    I could go on, but I know you catch my drift.

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