Once again, the events of this week have sent me almost over the edge. I am reaching out to the blogosphere for some guidance and support. It all started with Perez Hilton being punched in the face by management for the Black Eyed Peas over the weekend. Long story short, Fergie Fug and Will.i.am asked Perez to not post about their band on his blog and Perez said, “Ummmmm, no”. Fug and i.am followed Perez from party to party. Perez gets angry and in an attempt to make BEP’s angry, he calls will.i.am a faggot. I do not condone that language in any way but Perez is a clear bottom in my mind so it’s ok for him. Kinda like I can say my sister is a bitch but if you do, you are getting punched. Anyhoo, eventually BEP’s manager ended up sucker punching (Sucker Punch- This occurs when someone hits someone else from behind, usually when the person being hit doesn't know it until afterwards. Usually considered shady or a "bitch move".) Perez in the eye…repeatedly. I don’t really care about any of this…it’s really just the back story.
So today it seems the news has saturated the minds of Americans. After some time and hard consideration, we the American people defend the attacker and blame the victim. People have tried to make it a gay issue saying Perez shouldn’t have called Will a faggot. I agree but being as Perez himself is a big flaming homo, I don’t really see an issue with this. Then there are others that say well, he blogs nasty things about people all day long so he should expect what he gets. Lots of people have talked about my good friend, Karma. Perez himself addressed this opinion best: "Karma would be me losing my site and going bankrupt or what have u...Karma is not getting punched in the face." Even Newsweek is weighing in: http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thehumancondition/archive/2009/06/23/john-mayer-perez-hilton-and-the-politics-of-victim-blaming.aspx
I honestly could not agree more with their opinions as far as blaming the victim. It is kind of like Jodie Foster’s character in The Accused (circa 1988). If you haven’t seen it, basically Jodie’s character is dressed up for a night out, ends up in a seedy bar and gets gang raped by a group of men. I remember watching this movie for the first time with my dad. Prepare yourself for what is coming next but he actually said “well, she shouldn’t have gone into that bar dressed like that if that wasn’t what she wanted”. Really? You really thing that? And you are really going to say it out loud to your 10 year old? My parents didn’t shelter me from anything. They wanted my sister and I to see the world for what it was. My dad made me realize how one-sided and cruel the world can be. I, of course, turned it around and said, “so if that was me, dressing like that, you think I would deserve it?” And that is how you change someone, one conversation at a time. I am still appaled when I think of that conversation today. What if I had been a weak little girl who believed what her daddy said? What if I had identified with my dad and the attackers instead of the victim?
How about Matthew Shepard? Matthew was a young gay man figuring out his life. He lived in Wyoming where gay people and gay issues were seldom talked about. Small fact I learned while on vacation 5 years ago in Laramie, there is not a gay bar in the great state of Wyoming. I am sure there is some seedy joint that has to keep quiet but not one we could find through much internet research but I digress. Matthew struggled with his sexuality and found it difficult to deal with on his own. He attended a few out-of-state universities and took class trips that allowed him to see outside of the closed minds of Wyoming. He became more comfortable in who he was and what he was about. And then he went home to Laramie. On October 7, 1998 two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, lead him to a remote area east of Laramie where they demonstrated unimaginable acts of hate. Matthew was tied to a split-rail fence where he was beaten and left to die in the cold of the night. Almost 18 hours later he was found by a cyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow. Matthew died on October 12 at 12:53 am at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. His entire family was by his side for the last few days of his life. His funeral was attended by friends and family from around the world and gained the appropriate media attention that brought Matthew's story to the forefront of the fight against hate. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act was introduced to the House 5 times from 2001 up until this year. In 2009 it was finally passed by the House and is pending with the Senate Judiciary Committee. It has taken tireless years of service, time and money on behalf of millions of volunteers, parents and gay-lovers to make this happen and it still is not done! I guess if Matthew had not had the audacity to be gay in Wyoming he might still be alive.
Another example sighted by Newsweek is the recent media circus surrounding Rhianna and Chris Brown. I was enraged when the news broke of the alleged beat down that took place before the Grammy’s. Seeing the photos of RiRi’s bruised and battered face made me think about the inner scars that would last much longer that the ones outside. The first thing media speculated on was “What did she do to make him do it?”. It was assumed immediately that the victim was at fault. She read his texts, she was jealous, she was to blame. No wonder battered women look for ways that they were responsible, that is what the rest of society is doing!
I think the reference that cuts me the deepest is the one made to Angie Zapata's story. Maybe because my wounds to this particular hate crime are still very raw. Angie was a transgendered 18 year old with her whole life ahead of her. She was born a boy and realized at 12 years old that she just did not identify with that gender. Her family (God love them) was very accepting and supportive. Due to heavy harassment and constant threats of violence that were never addressed by the school, Angie dropped out and moved to be closer to her family. She got her own apartment, watched her nieces and nephews and intended to start school for fashion. On July 17, 2008, Angie Zapata was brutally murdered in her Greeley, Colorado apartment. Two weeks later, Allen Andrade was arrested. Andrade has been charged with first degree murder, aggravated motor vehicle theft, identify theft and a bias motivated (hate) crime by the Weld County District Attorney. You can do your own research of the case. I am sure there are many opinions but to me this beautiful young life was cut short over hate, plain and simple. People say it was her fault. She had a social networking site that said she was a straight female. She lied so she deserved to die? I guess that is the logic. Correct me if I am wrong but there is not transgender box on MySpace, Facebook or any other social site that I am aware of. Perhaps she would have checked the box marked “Chicks with Dicks” if given the option. I guess we won’t ever know. The case is actually in a jury’s hands as I type this. The big argument on this case is WHEN she came out to her attacker. Did she tell him in the 700+ correspondences that they had via e-mail or text? Did he know days before that she was a man living as a woman? Or did he find out when he showed up at her apartment? You might be wondering but why does that matter? Well because if she didn’t tell this man she was transgendered then it isn’t his fault for killing her, is it? He flipped out and killed her, that’s all. Part of Allen Andrade’s statement reads: "It's not like I went up to a school teacher and shot her in the head, or killed a straight law-abiding citizen,".:Jurors were shown partial transcripts of tape-recorded jail calls in which Andrade allegedly told his girlfriend that he "snapped" and that "gay things need to die." Andrade was arrested July 30, nearly two weeks after Zapata's sisters discovered her body under a blanket in her apartment. Andrade told investigators that he struck Zapata twice in the head with a fire extinguisher and thought he had "killed it" before striking her again as she struggled to get up, the arrest affidavit said. Andrade is believed to be the first person tried for a hate crime under the sexual orientation section of Colorado's hate crime law, according to the New York and Los Angeles-based Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Colorado is one of 11 states to have such designations in their laws. Andrade has five felony convictions, according to court records.
"Killed it", can you imagine that "it" as your child? I bet Judy Shepard and Maria Zapata couldn't fathom it either. I will be watching this case and I hope you do too. I hope you talk to your kids about hate and hate crimes. I hope no mother ever has to endure what Judy Shepard and Maria Zapata have and will continue to for the rest of their days.
“We have seen a man dragged to death in Texas simply because he was black. A young man murdered in Wyoming simply because he was gay. In the last year alone, we've seen the shootings of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Jewish children simply because of who they were. This is not the American way. We must draw the line. Without delay, we must pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And we should reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.”
Former President Bill Clinton