Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Murders Of Gay And Bi Men Are Up 400 Percent

Blaze Berstein who was murdered last month
As a well educated white gay male with a law degree and social connections, I do not typically feel afraid for my physical safety, although I have experienced harassment - including from Norfolk police officers some years ago - and threats due to my sexual orientation.  Indeed, writing this blog I have received death threats, always from "godly Christians" who cannot tolerate anyone or anything that might challenge their Bronze Age beliefs.  But over the last year there has been a frightening trend where physical attacks and murders of LGBT men has risen markedly, fueled by the messages of hate coming from Christofascist pulpits and the White House and U.S. Justice Department.  Donald Trump and Mike Pence are waging an all out war on LGBT citizens, not only pushing for Christofascist health care providers to refuse treatment to LGBT individuals but also arguing that the civil rights laws do not protect LGBT individuals from employment discrimination.  It is a message resonating with Trump's followers who seemingly feel emboldened to not only speak their hatred but to put it into action through violence.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at the very disturbing trend.  Here are excerpts:

A 20-year-old man linked to a neo-Nazi group was charged last month in the brutal stabbing death of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, an openly gay Jewish college student who was reported missing by his family in Orange County, California, in early January and whose body was found in a wooded area.
Samuel Woodard, who allegedly stabbed Bernstein more than 20 times, is a member of the group Atomwaffen Division, ProPublica reported. Men with connections to the group have allegedly killed four other people across the country within an eight-month period. 
HuffPost reporter Christopher Mathias described the Atomwaffen Division as “a well-armed neo-Nazi group enamored with Charles Manson and Adolf Hitler whose members harbor grand and demented delusions of fighting a ‘race war’ and overthrowing the U.S. government.” 
[K]illings committed by white supremacists more than doubled in 2017. And hate-motivated homicides of LGBTQ people were up a whopping 86 percent nationwide in 2017 over the previous year, according to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Transgender women of color have consistently been the most targeted group among LGBTQ people, each year making up the highest number of hate-motivated killings.
Those numbers have been increasing dramatically. “In 2017, there were 27 hate-violence related homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people, compared to 19 reports in 2016,”
And then there is the staggering statistic from the NCAVP report on murders of cisgender queer, gay or bisexual men: a 400 percent increase in hate-motivated homicides in 2017 ― from four in 2016 to 20 in 2017.
The great majority of these homicides, which include killers who lured their queer male victims using social media apps, weren’t committed by men involved with neo-Nazis or white supremacist groups. But those hate groups and their allies may feel emboldened by a president who talked about the neo-Nazi rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year as having “very fine people” on “both sides.” And according to another ADL report, white supremacists hate groups are organizing on campuses, targeting college students.
It is also appears to be true that many men, whether they be white supremacists or not, have felt their masculinity threatened by the increased push for equality for LGBTQ people over the years, as well as by the call for full equality for women, . . . Much of the violence against gay and bi men and transgender women over the years has been committed men who are deeply insecure about their masculinity and even sometimes about their own sexual orientation. Studies have shown that men most likely to harbor hate are often tormented themselves about their own same-sex attraction.
What may be different since 2017 is that these men ― and the vast majority of hate-motivated killings of queer people are committed by cisgender men ― now feel more empowered to act out. A GLAAD annual survey published in recent weeks found, for the first time in four years, a ”swift and alarming drop” in acceptance of LGBTQ people ― rather than the steady rise the survey saw each year prior ― and an increase in reports of discrimination by LGBTQ people. . . .
It’s hard not to see the connection between these recent changes and President Donald Trump’s actions. As I’ve reported and analyzed over the past year in several columns, Trump is the most anti-LGBTQ president in history, attempting to strip away hard-fought rights that have been won.
From banning transgender people in the military to advocating for allowing discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual people in employment, the Trump administration has brutally attacked LGBTQ rights by promoting religious exemptions.
Trump also put a man on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, whose judicial history shows a propensity to carve out religious exemptions to civil rights . . . . it shows that in a climate in which the president of the United States actually privileges discrimination as a “liberty” people should enjoy, individuals who’ve always harbored that bias now feel more comfortable expressing it publicly.
Likewise, in this kind of hostile environment toward LGBTQ people, those who would engage in hate-motivated violence surely feel that there is a brisk wind at their backs. 
If my "friends" who voted for the vile Der Trumpenf├╝hrer think I will "forgive and forget, they are deluding themselves.  They have demonstrated their own moral bankruptcy and do not deserve to be given a pass. 

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