Oct 15, 2014

The Bushwick Trans Beating and The Black Community's Relationship with LGBTQ People

On Sunday night at 11:30 pm, a victim only being described as a transgender woman was attacked and brutally beaten by 4 men, two of whom are black (as seen in police surveillance footage). See the story below for details:

via 7Online (see full story here)
They punched and kicked the victim, 28, then one suspect threw a Plexiglas board at her, striking the victim in the head. The suspects also made anti-gay statements, police said. The victim was taken to Elmhurst hospital, where she remains in critical condition. There have been no arrests.

The first suspect is described as a male black, last seen wearing a gray sleeveless sweatshirt with the word "Freedom" on it, along with a dark long sleeve shirt, gray sweatpants, white sneakers and ski cap. The second suspect is described as a male black with close-cut hair, last seen wearing a blue Nike hooded sweatshirt with blue sweatpants.

Gay, lesbian and transgender rights activists say there is no doubt about what motivated the attack.

"I think it's very clear that this was an attack because she was a transgender woman. The nature of the slurs against her and

the fact that the fight did not escalate to physical violence until they realized she was transgender indicate that this was a hate crime," said Kate Barnhart, of New Alternatives for Homeless LGBT Youth.

The LGBT community held a rally in support of the victim Tuesday night.

The victim remains in critical condition at Elmhurst Hospital as police search for the four men who brutally attacked her.

The victim did suffer a traumatic brain injury. She underwent surgery and had to have a portion of her skull removed to allow her brain to swell without causing further damage.

As one of the participants in the rally mentioned, this type of action is only to keep people silent and to prevent the progress of the LGBTQ community. And while we do not know the exact specifics of what caused the beating to happen, the trans woman's gay friend's account speaks volumes to the attitudes of the four attackers and how many others in the world still view members of the LGBTQ community. There are still people, even in New York that, given the chance, will attack and attempt to brutally murder members of our community. This is all in an effort to silence us and it cannot be allowed. One might argue that Bushwick (a neighborhood in Brooklyn) is not the best place to be a transgender woman. And while that may be true, here in 2014, it is still not okay. We shouldn't live in a world where one should have to "know better" when in certain neighborhoods or areas. The victim of this attack was described as an artistic and beautiful person. 

As mentioned, two of the suspects shown on police surveillance are black. The idea of "silence" when it comes to matters involving the LGBTQ community (pick any one of those letters) is very prevalent, and a BIG problem in the black community. From family to church to music, black people who are openly accepting and supportive allies of the LGBTQ community are definitely the minority. This has to change, but how? 

1. Part of the solution is to realize that being gay, a lesbian, transgender, bisexual or queer is nothing to be ashamed of. 

I have heard, time and time again, from black people who have come out to their families that their homosexuality is a family secret. I know of sects within my own family that know of their gay son, but don't mention it or make excuses for the fact that he is not yet married, as if people aren't already talking about him behind his back! Black people need to stop lying to themselves in the name of shame. When you tell the truth, the only one you're shaming is the devil. 

2. Everyone else probably already knows, so stop lying to yourself!

As mentioned in point 1, your coworkers, family or friends probably already suspect that you're gay. If they're constantly asking about a girlfriend, do not lie. I have seen men that I know are gay not only deny being gay, but LIE by saying "I just haven't found the right *woman* yet." Chile, you're 34 years old and haven't had a *girl*friend since I've known you. Your coworkers are probing you for the confirmation of the truth they already know. 

3. Do NOT Speak Ill of the LGBTQ Community Even IF You're not comfortable enough to come out!

This one really burns me up. I'll never forget sitting there at a family function with my in-denial gay family member. The issue of homosexuality came up and all sorts of homophobic slurs and insults were being hurled around. Now, I haven't always been the type to know which battles to pick, but by this time in my life, I was, and so I remained silent. I did not agree or "amen" any of the foolishness that was being said. My in-denial gay family member, on the other hand, was so uncomfortable that the discussion had gone down this path, that he was not only agreeing with the rest of the homophobes, but adding insults to the pot! "That's right! And why is it that all gay people do....xyz?" As if you didn't know!  

4. Take a Stand!

This one is going to take a while to catch on, but for those of you who are allies of the LGBTQ community, you must stand up for what you believe in when faced with ignorance. Recently I was in the sauna at the homophobe ridden gym at which I work out. There were two other men in the sauna. One of them used a homophobic slur, and the other one immediately let him know that it wasn't ok. "You must be a faggot too" said the the homophobic black man, to which he responded "No. I am straight, but that language is unnecessary. You don't even know if that man (a man standing outside of the sauna at the time) is gay." I continued to observe this exchange. The homophobe then retaliated: "I don't care to know if someone is gay! What do I want to know about him sucking dick and licking balls for!?" I had to intervene. "That's not what being gay is all about and you sound upset right now." By the time I, a flagrant gay, and my ally were finished, the homophobe turned tail and retreated. When every one takes a stand, homophobia has nowhere to go, and I am sure that the number of people who stand with the LGBTQ community outnumber (or at very least outsmart) those who stand against it. 

We need to do better in the black community, otherwise incidents like the Bushwick beating will continue to happen. I hope that criminals are caught and dealt with accordingly, of course, but my greater hope is that one day, along with everyone else in the world, the black community can step up and be for equality.   

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