Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter October 5, 2000
This month will necessarily be a little more painful than most. It was Matthew Shepard's murder which led to the establishment of this site. The second anniversary of that event is upon us., and all the reflections which come with it.
Because the trials of the two men accused of his murder had not yet been completed at this time last year, perhaps it was inevitable that word of commemorations of the event would be better circulated. We're not entirely convinced that there are fewer his year, but it may be that they are less publicized. In any case, these are the ones which were brought to our attention:
Flushing Meadows, NY. On October 7, the Metropolitan Tennis Group will be holding the Second Annual Matthew Shepard Memorial Tennis Jam at the National tennis Center. As is true of all these events, this is in memory of all victims of hate and violence.
St. Louis, MO. On October 7, starting at midnight and going through until 6:00 p.m. an 18 hour prayer vigil will be held at the Metropolitan Community Church. John Todd, who is organizing this event, has left a posting on our message board with more details.
Winona, MI. On October 12 at 9:00 p.m. a Vigil in Matthew's memory will be held in the courtyard of Wynona State University.
San Jose, CA. Throughout the entire month, there will be an exhibition called the Matthew Shepard Memorial Wall at the Billy DeFrank Lesbian and Gay Community Center.
We're sure this doesn't exhaust the list. If you hear of any more, please post the details on our message board. In addition, we would like to hear about things even after they've occurred. They may spark some ideas for the future.
The month was not without more bad news. We mentioned the murder of Erik Toews in Tacoma in our last newsletter. Unfortunately, these things as often lead to copycat crimes, and this happened in Seattle. At this writing, we have not heard that the gang which was copying the behavior of the bunch in Tacoma had killed anybody, but it's a useful reminder and a warning about a certain kind of behavior.
There was a fair amount of coverage of the man who decided to shoot up a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia. The shooter's memory is of less importance than the one fatality resulting from his outburst Danny Lee Overstreet has to be added to the melancholy list of victims.
So does Eric Franklin Plunkett of Burnsville, Minnesota, who was found battered to death in his dorm at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Eric was gay, but, as we've noted in our last newsletter, while that can be in itself a reason for becoming a target, other points of vulnerability also matter. Eric had cerebral palsy and was partially deaf. At this time, there's no way of knowing whether one, two, or all three things made him a target.
That observation touched a nerve with one of our contacts. This individual, whose name we'll omit lest we cause trouble, passed on a story from the days immediately after Matthew's murder. This person was talking with a relative who had a fairly empathetic personality. Asked what she thought of "the Laramie incident", this lady replied that of course, it was a terrible thing, but she went on to add, "but he was such a weak man, wasn't he?" That seemed to explain everything.
This happened elsewhere in Wyoming, and our contact wondered whether this was a particular couture of the West. That same question was raised in a Harper's magazine article, "A Boy's Life" in its September, 1999 issue. As we thought about it, we think not. As is true of the West (both American and Canadian), code words and honeyed phrases do not come easily, and much is said more openly. Looking over it, however, we kept being reminded that the attitude turns up in all sorts of other places. It seems to be a general truth.
We earlier observed that Martin Luther King thought racial tensions would be more quickly in the American South precisely because everybody knew they existed. Perhaps this applies to the prairie and mountain West here. It seems to be an area where one can not hide, either from the violent contrasts of weather, or from oneself.
On other fronts, Mike Doull gave us a useful reminder on our message board of another group who are feared, and because feared, hated. These are people with facial deformities. As soon as it's pointed out, it's obvious. Those of us with (relatively) normal faces likely can recall with shame how we've recoiled from somebody whose visage is deformed, and only realized the hurt we must have caused. At present, the only information we have is Mike's posting, but he did leave his e-mail address, where you could contact him for further details.
Since we've set up an archive of our earlier newsletters, we'll hope you'll not forget the various links we've put up in them. A lot of them are still very much of current interest.
This one is a little rushed for obvious reasons. Perhaps we'll be able to be a little more reflective next month.
The Stop Hate 2000 e-Team
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