Boston, Massachusetts – Gay students and Law School officials were stunned to discover homophobic slurs scrawled on the walls of the Lambda Students Association the day following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. When LGBTQ students arrived at the Boston College Law School LGBT Center, they found the door unlocked and scads of epithets demeaning queer folk covering the office walls.
Demeaning slurs such as “cum shot,” “muff diver,” “felching,” “cock gobbler,” “gay bukkake,” and the like competed with a few racial ethic epithets that seem to have been thrown in for good measure. Some sources opined that LGBTQ people were not singled out for humiliation, since Blacks were also targeted by the vandals. Sexual minority students, however, are not buying such denial. They feel the crosshairs of hate aimed directly at them. The Boston College Police Department and the Newton Police Department are investigating the incident.
Robert Trescan, Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League of New England, said to Boston.com that while hate speech incidents occur on many campuses, this one has a more sinister character to it. “This is a targeted message at a particular place that is important to students, specifically designed to send a message,” he said. “From the police and school’s perspective we want this to be treated as a priority, and all indications is that they are treating this as a priority.”
EDGE Boston reports that the Dean of the Law School was notified in a meeting of the hate graffiti, and rushed to the LGBT Center immediately to see the damage himself. Dean Vincent Rougeau wrote an open letter to the college community, a portion of which says,“The administration of Boston College Law School condemns this reprehensible action and will not tolerate hateful or threatening speech of any kind. This behavior is the antithesis of all we stand for as an institution, and is an assault on our shared values of a welcoming, loving, and inclusive community.”
Joe Triplett, co-chairperson of Above the Law, a student group, said that the entire Boston College community has been concerned and supportive, according to Huffington Post. Triplett also related that a student suggested that the hatefulness of the incident could be diffused and channeled to energize the pro-LGBTQ effort on the Jesuit school’s campus. Inspired by President Obama’s Inaugural endorsement of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality, the unnamed student said that the vandalism should serve as a “backdrop for a dedication to the gay rights movement… posting articles, pictures, and quotes on top of them that show our fight for equal rights from Stonewall to the President’s historic inclusion of gay rights in his inauguration speech yesterday… to show where we have come from and yet how far we still have to go.”
Bridgewater and Boston, Massachusetts – Two recent attacks–one against a gay man on a Boston Transit train, and the other against a university journalist for writing a gay-supportive column in the Bridgewater State University Comment–suggest that young females are now attacking gay and gay-friendly allies with greater frequency and boldness than in the recent past. The Patriot Ledger reported that a student journalist was attacked who wrote a supportive article on same-sex marriage after the California federal court ruling on Prop 8. Destinie Mogg-Barkalow, who wrote the article entitled “Prop 8 Generates More Hate” told campus police that she was confronted by a young man with close-cropped hair and a red-haired young woman in a campus parking lot Thursday evening, February 16 who asked her if she wrote the pro-gay piece. When Mogg-Barkalow said “yes,” the woman struck her in the face, bruising her badly. She stumbled back to the offices of the Comment where staffers called for help. Mogg-Barkalow, who is a lesbian, has described her assailants, and the investigation is ongoing. The university police, president, and campus community have rallied in Mogg-Barkalow’s support. Bridgewater is south of the Boston metro area.
Huffington Post reports this week that Boston Transit Police are investigating an assault on a gay man by at least three teenage women who shouted slurs at him for his race and sexual orientation. The victim, who remains unnamed, had his face badly cut, and his nose bloodied. His backpack was stolen along with its contents: an iPod and a digital camera. A passenger on the T who witnessed the attack, Priscilla Ballou, told WHDH Channel 7 News, “[The victim] was on the receiving end of two kinds of violence: one, the physical violence against his body, and the other, the hate violence against his spirit.” Metro Boston Transit Authority spokesman, Deputy Chief Joseph O’Connor, said, “Some statements were made relative to his sexual orientation and we have conferred with the district attorney and the attorney general who have advised us to pursue that avenue.” An 18-year-old suspect from Dorchester has been questioned so far. The attackers, when apprehended, will be charged with assault and battery, and unarmed robbery, as well as a hate crime.
Bay State citizens, especially LGBTQ people, are deeply concerned about what this means for the safety and security of queer folk in a supposed liberal bastion of the nation. Conventional wisdom holds that young people are more tolerant of LGBTQ people, and that females are seldom involved in gay bashings. In both instances, younger women are alleged to have carried out physical attacks against gays and lesbians. Though the majority of violent attacks on gay, lesbian, and transgender people are carried out by young Caucasian men, the disturbing evidence of female anti-gay violence seems to be mounting. As hate crimes like this begin to pile up around New England and the nation, the conventional wisdom will have to be reconsidered.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, legendary liberal Lion of the United States Senate, has died of brain cancer at age 77 in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The Kennedy family has issued this statement to the public: “Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.” Kennedy was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in May 2008. The LGBT community has lost a great champion for human rights. A true ally of sexual minorities, Kennedy lobbied for rights and protections for all Americans. As recently as July 13, 2009, he made these remarks in favor of the Senate passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, of which he was a sponsor: “Violent attacks based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability deserve to be criminalized by federal law. Our nation must show that it will not permit these communities to be terrorized – one victim at a time. Over 10 years have passed since the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act was first introduced in the Senate. Over 10 years have passed since Matthew Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die because he was gay. I commend Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, for her years of inspiring advocacy that have brought us to this moment. Now is the time for the Senate to vote and show that we will not allow domestic terrorism to tear apart the fabric of our nation and take the lives of innocent Americans. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow their hearts and minds and vote in favor of this legislation.” Perhaps Kennedy will be best remembered for his unstinting advocacy for universal healthcare, “the cause of his life,” that was on his mind as he fought a losing battle with cancer. He took responsibility for his personal appetites and flaws, showing the nation he loved that he deserved our respect and affection because imperfect people can do magnificent things. He was born to privilege, but instead chose to serve, becoming one of the few greats in the history of the Senate. When Webster, Clay, Calhoun and Taft are honored in years to come, Kennedy will be remembered among them. Teddy Kennedy, the passionate defender of women, LGBT people, the poor, and the infirm, fought the good fight. It would be only fitting to note on his epitaph that among his posthumous legislative achievements were the Matthew Shepard Act and the Universal Healthcare Act. To inscribe them there must now be our labor of love and respect for Teddy, the People’s Lion.