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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beaten, Stabbed, Thrown in the Fire

I can't get it to embed, but I want you guys to go to the news story and watch the video. This is what happens to gay people in Texas:
Burnett was at the party with some female friends when he says three men, who were upset that he is gay, began beating him and calling him names.

"Faggot, cocksucker, gay bitch," Burnett said.

Twenty-six year old Burnett is from nearby Paris and says he has never experienced homophobia like this. He came out of the closet when he was 15, inspired by Matthew Shepherd -- a gay man from Wyoming man who was killed because he was gay.

"I was about 11 when that happened. It really, really hit home and it scared me as a little boy to think that's what happens to gay people," Burnett said.

Reno police are being tightlipped about the case, but three days after the attack, they had three suspects in custody all charged with aggravated assault. Daniel Martin, James Mitchell Laster and Micky Joe Smith are being held on $250,000 bond each.

Reno's mayor William Heuberger calls the attack appalling. He says his sympathy goes to the victim and no one deserves this kind of treatment.
Another interview with Burke:

BTW - Thanks mucho for all the cards and letters, guys.  I really have appreciated all your kind thoughts and good wishes.  Sometimes a fella just needs to get quiet and be in his own space, ya know?  Nothing anyone can help with.

But of course it doesn't help a damn bit to be stuck out here on the prairie surrounded by millions of homo haters, and no conceivable way out.  But I'll manage.

Update:  The Lamar County grand jury has indicted Burke's three attackers on hate crimes charges, making them liable for first-degree felony convictions, with up to life in prison.  Yes, Texas actually does have a hate crimes law, passed in 2001 after the dragging death of James Byrd, which covers crimes motivated by a victim's sexual orientation, among other things.


Anonymous said...

I had a chance to stay and live in Texas after graduating from UT at Austin. There was far more opportunity for good jobs in Texas but I opted to come back to my Miami roots.
After Anita Bryant, South Florida became almost as intolerant as Texas and I seriously questioned my moving here.
After 39 years here I will not even go back to Austin, travel through Alabama, Arizona or Utah...I fear for my life in those places.
good to see you are up and about Russ.


Davis said...

Glad you came in to say hello.

Yes, this is an important piece of news - horrifying.

Hey, you may think you're alone out there, but believe me you are not.

iain said...

That citizens of this country have to avoid large swathes of the land they live in because of the threat to life and limb is beyond appalling. Just yesterday, when the news came out that homophobe director Brett Ratner had stepped down from directing the Oscars because of the 'adverse' publicity his public non-'joke' about 'fags' was garnering, the yahoo boards, offering the usual 'net anonymity, were lit up with anti-gay vitriol, hate, and surely criminal threats against gay people (in fact against gay men - the haters are too stupid to consider how lesbians feel about all this). My concern is intensified by the fact that after living here for 23 years (my partner is American, I am British) he and I, although we have lived in his homestate of Hawaii followed by many years in Los Angeles (supposedly liberal, 'accepting' places) are full steam ahead with plans to move back to my native London - the UK government recognizes him as my legal spouse for immigration purposes - and while the UK is not hate (murderous hate) and homophobia-free, the culture and the legal system is far more supportive and proective of gay citizens than the US. As for your sense of "no conceivable way out", I don't wish to be glib and I don't know your circumstances, but in my experience, when the tipping point arrives, a way out invariably presents itself. Keep the faith.

MommieDammit said...

Hello Russ, I'm SO glad to see you posting again! Though I wish it had been under better circumstances. What has happened to this young man is horrific, but all to familiar to yours truly. I survived a similar incident about 30 years ago and, like him, owe my life to my female friends.
You have my complete and unqualified sympathies with your last paragraph, Russ. Kansas City may be a major midwestern city, but it reeks of Bible-beaters and red-necked homophobes... this is aside from being a cultural wasteland. My own plans - and yes, I'm taking into account the "mice and men" theory - to move to a Blue, or at least "Purple", state are going to take 1 1/2 to 2 years. In the meanwhile, know that there's always one jaded ol' countrifried... umm, "-fied?" drag queen out there that loves ya. Scarey, isn't it.

Russ Manley said...

raulito, Davis, iain, MD - thanks for your thoughts, guys. Yes I have to remind myself that it's not just Texas: how often do we read about brutal gay bashings and murders even in the blue states, or the homo heaven of San Francisco? And there are islands of tolerance and even acceptance here in TX - Houston has just re-elected their lesbian mayor, for example.

Still . . . way to hell out here in a small town on the prairie, sometimes it's hard not to feel a certain kind of despair, knowing that oceans of hatred extend for hundreds of miles in every direction around you. It's not that I'm physically afraid: you work up a good ol' boy act and practice it ever day for twunny years or so, people leave you alone - nobody much notices an old graybearded, middle-aged redneck going in and out of wally world etc.

But then you can't really be your true self to anybody, can't trust anyone, can you? I know how these small town bastards think, I know what they say and how they gossip and snicker behind your back, and the evil, hurtful things they assume. And I'm talking about the *nice* people, the good, upstanding, hardworking, churchgoing folks. It's not that they would ever lift a hand in violence . . . but they really do hate us. Truly. And always will, no matter what laws come or go. Nothing will ever change their minds, their hearts, or their piss-righteous attitudes. Nothing.

So even without a visible demonstration of it, I can sense the waves of homophobia lapping up around me all the time. Nothing new - been this way all my life. I'm just really, really, *really* fucking tired of it, ya know guys?

I never imagined in my youth that I would end up so isolated in a place like this. But where could you go, even if you had the means to go, which I don't? There is no promised land for gay people, not anywhere. And that's very sad.

FDeF said...

Russ, Glad to see you posting again. This kind of news is certainly disturbing. How often do things like this happen and they are not reported or never make the news?

A friend of ours ended up in small town in Massachusetts which is so not Texas but small town nonetheless and he feels isolated and depressed. So perhaps you are right, there is no promised land for us - not even in Provincetown is one completely free of harassment and occasional violence.

I was dismayed to learn also that several, if not all, of the gay/lesbian retirement communities have begun to fold due to bankruptcy and other troubles. So, even if I could afford to, escape to a Gay Village seems more remote than ever.

Thanks to the internet, at least we have some opportunity to network and connect.

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