The Death of Stuart Walker and Thoughts on Persecution – The choice no one would make
I was planning on posting a book review this morning as my weekly ramble, but that will have to wait. I woke up this morning to the horrible news of a man from Ayrshire, Scotland who died tied to a lamppost, beaten and set alight. Early reports suspect all of this happened because the man was gay.
Now many of you might not know this, but I am a firm believer in the judicial process, and whether or not the death of Stuart Walker was a hate crime, I still feel the need to mention it. The fact that it can possibly be a hate crime is the issue at hand.
As a society we have never been tolerant of that which is different. Our early ancestors killed their crippled young, and through the ages people were persecuted for not fitting in with the heteronormative standards of the world. People have been persecuted for being Christian, for not being Christian, for the colour of their skin, for their sexual orientation or their country of birth. The human race is so afraid of something not fitting in with their pristine idea of what the world should be, that we are willing to kill for it.
Zachary Quinto, of Heroes and Star Trek fame, recently announced publicly that he was gay, not with a marching band and fanfare, but in an interview where he simply stated that as a gay man he would not stand quiet while people committed suicide because of bullying.
when i found out that jamey rodemeyer killed himself – i felt deeply troubled. but when i found out that jamey rodemeyer had made an it gets better video only months before taking his own life – i felt indescribable despair. i also made an it gets better video last year – in the wake of the senseless and tragic gay teen suicides that were sweeping the nation at the time. but in light of jamey’s death – it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it – is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.
Here in South Africa we are not unfamiliar with hate crimes. Hell, at one point we built a government on persecution. And even today, 17 years after the fall of said government, we still face discrimination on account of our race, gender, religious beliefs and sexual orientation.
Recently it has become known that a string of suspicious murders in and around Johannesburg might be the work of a serial killer. A serial killer who targets gay men. In 2009, hate crimes in the USA were in the increase with as many as 1 in 6 were on the basis of sexual orientation.
Now to get to the point of this post. When I came out, many people noted on how it was my “choice to be gay”. I ask you this: In the light of the above-mentioned stories, stories which many people in the LGBT community are very familiar with, who in their right mind would choose this?
Oh, don’t get me wrong. It is every man and woman’s right to personally or publicly choose to identify with any group they wish. Being gay isn’t a choice. Coming out is. Although it is a choice necessitated by an intolerant society. A good friend of mine once told me that coming out should not be necessary for anyone and I agree. Unfortunately we’re playing in someone else’s sandbox, by someone else’s rules.
I weep for humanity.