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A culture of anti-gay violence and National Coming Out Day

The descriptions are horrific.  The anti-gay gang that was arrested in New York for the brutal attacks on three people pushed homophobia and anti-gay violence to a new level.    Eight members of the “Latin King Goonies” have been arrested for their suspected brutal attack on three gay men in the Bronx.  They burned and beat and tortured their victims. They used a plunger handle and baseball bat to sodomize their victims.  They kidnapped and locked them in a vacant house.

This gang suspected that one of the 17 year olds who wanted to be part of the gang was gay.  According to news reports they took him to a vacant apartment and tortured him repeatedly until he admitted having sex with a 30-year-old man.  They invited the  30-year-old to a “party”   along with another 17-year-old they also suspected was gay and tortured them and sodomized them both.  They burned their victims with cigarettes.  Such cruelty and violence.

The suspects include:

Ildefonzo Mendez, 23; David Rivera, 21; four 17-year-olds, Steven Caraballo, Denis Peitars, Nelson Falu and Bryan Almonte; and Brian Cepeda, 16. All face charges including robbery, assault and unlawful imprisonment as hate crimes; Mendez, Rivera and Falu were additionally charged with committing a criminal sex act. The eighth suspect, Elmer Confresi, 23, of the Bronx, turned himself in Saturday. A ninth suspect was supposed to turn himself in on Sunday but didn’t show. Eight of the gang members were arraigned on Sunday.

The Associated Press reported that each man was asked “Are you a fag?” before their beating and torture.  ll.

New York officials were appropriately outraged.  Mayor Bloomberg, Police Chief Kelly, and other electeds.   Mayor Bloomberg said: “Like many New Yorkers, I was sickened by the brutal nature of these crimes and saddened by the anti-gay bias that contributed to them.”

But this is not enough.  This is the outcome of those who continue to dehumanize gay people. They hear it in church.  They hear it from politicians like Palladino who is running for governor of New York. A Republican Tea party candidate who made comments before a group of Orthodox Jews that homosexuality is wrong.  The New York Times quoted Palladino:
“That’s not how God created us,” he said, reading from a prepared address. “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.”

It is this kind of talk that continues to give permission to torture gay people.

It is the result of a war on gay people being waged in this country. And around the world.

In this country, this violence is a result of the culture created by “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy of the military and “DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.” It is the result of presidents both Democratic and Republican sacrificing doing what is right in regard to gay people because of politics.

It is the result of the work of organizations like the National Organization for Marriage that funds right-wing campaigns and recall initiatives against Judges and Justices who rule in favor of marriage for gay people.

This culture of violence is the result of preaching from primarily Christian churches who call homosexuality “immoral and unnatural” like recent comments by a Mormon elder.  Or the rantings of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist church members who run around the country with “God Hates Fags” signs even at military funerals.”  It is the result of church who preach a message of “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

It is the result of the Catholic church who preaches that very message.  How disingenuous that the Catholic Archbishop of New York, Timothy Doland at an event on Saturday said: “Nothing can justify that kind of mindless vicious violence.”  He helped to defeat a vote on gay marriage in New York state just this year.  His efforts dehumanize gay people.

Homosexuality is no sin.  Nor is the way we love.  What is sinful is that a human being could torture another human being.  What is sinful is this kind of  permission to dehumanize gay people.

This culture is the result of Orthodox Jews funding organizations like Jonah that would try to “change the sexual orientation” of gay people as if there is something wrong with a person’s sexual orientation.  God created all “b’tzelem Elohim”, in the image of God.

And outside the U.S. only this weekend, right-wing gang members in Serbia through a Molotov cocktail in the midst of a gay pride parade.  More violence and hatred.

On this National Coming Out Day, a day created in 1988 to help gay and lesbian folks feel safer in speaking their truths;A day created to help straight family and friends be more honest about our gay and lesbian lives it is more important than ever to speak the truth.  It is more important than ever to come out.  Because each time we do-we fight this war against gay people.
It is time to be honest about the damage being done by this culture of dehumanizing gay people done by certain religious so-called leaders.

It is time to be honest about the damage being done by our government policies. It is time to be honest about the damage being done by right-wing organizations.

Today is National Coming Out Day.  Time to come out about a lot of things.

I pray for the three young people who were so brutally violated.

And I pray for the souls of the perpetrators. How pitiful and how pathetic.

3 thoughts on “A culture of anti-gay violence and National Coming Out Day”

  1. Thank you for speaking out, Rabbi Eger. The crimes, atmosphere and suicides around this year’s Coming Out Day are horrific.

  2. I agree absolutely with all your comments on govt policies and the damage that they are causing…these sanction hate and self-hate. Our civil rights revolution has begun and your voice will lead the way.

    Thank you for being a valuable voice in my book and almost daily in this blog…you are an inspiration. Much love, David

  3. Pingback: A culture of anti-gay violence and National Coming Out Day (via Walking Humbly. Seeking Justice. Living with Hope. Rabbi Denise L. Eger’s blog.) « NEVER BLEND IN

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