Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The ugliness of hate

It was October of 1998 when I saw hate close to my community. It wasn't the first or last time, but was intense and horrifying. A couple of months after moving from Norfolk, VA to Denver, a young, gay college student named Matthew Shepard was beaten to death in Laramie, WY, a 2 1/2 hour drive from my cozy, safe apartment within a gay-friendly neighborhood in Denver.

I was shocked as the details of the beating of Matthew became public. Then a couple of days later he died in a hospital in Fort Collins.

To be fair, there is a new book about Matthew's murder that has just been published. I haven't read it. Apparently it's about Matthew's beating and murder not being about his sexuality.

From everything I had heard and read before I will find that difficult to believe. I'll let you know if I end up reading the book.

A year before I moved to Denver an African immigrant named Oumar Dia from Senegal had left the Hyatt (which is where I worked when arriving in Denver) and was waiting for a bus home. This was right across the street from the hotel. He was shot to death by a white supremacist who said to him "Are you ready to die for being a nigger?".

I had personally experienced hate and hate-inspired violence before. Oh, and hate speech. Fag, faggot, fucking faggot, fairy were words that had been yelled at to me in my past. Once I was out of the closet I was out. No more going back in regardless of how uncomfortable that made people feel.

One is not born with hate. One is taught hate. Whether it's hatred towards gay folk, women, people of color, immigrants... the list could go on and on.

I believe that hatred and hate-filled acts happen because someone did not say something. No one spoke up to say hey, your way of thinking is messed up. Someone laughed at a joke that wasn't funny. Someone used a disparaging word just to feel comfortable with others or to look "cool".

Hate is present in every community. You don't have to accept it or allow it.

Each of us has the power to stop it.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I agree. People are not born with hate. Yet sadly, like a cancer, it too often consumes and destroys those afflicted. If only we could all follow the example of Matthew's Mother. God bless her, Matthew and all members of the Shepard family.