I hate to post about violent hateful acts in this holiday season of peace and compassion, but this is the reality of our world today:
The assault began at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday in the 1500 block of Visalia Avenue in the city’s Belding-Wood neighborhood when the 28-year-old victim was confronted by four men as she got out of her car.
The men proceeded to beat, rob and sexually assault her, [Police Lt. ] Gagan said. A few minutes into the assault, one of the men alerted the group that someone was approaching and they forced the victim into her car, the victim later told police….
During the attack, which lasted for about 45 minutes, the suspects made several statements about the victim’s sexual orientation, Gagan said.
The victim had a rainbow sticker on her license plate that identified her as being supportive of the gay community, Gagan said.
I suppose this story highlights the complex experience of LGBT persons in America. On the one hand, I would say we are always aware of the potential for violence against us by some people — although I think most of us would not predict the horrible extreme of this recent attack. And on the eve of 2009, one usually thinks that an attack would be “triggered” by some act of physical affection, no matter how innocent it might be, or wrong that anyone would be so offended. But, it’s one reason why Unnamed Partner and I enjoyed spending a week in Provincetown this year. It took me to the end of the week to let down my guard enough that I actually stopped the usual routine of gay self-preservation. That flow chart would go like this: (1) feel urge to hold partner’s hand while walking down the street, (2) make mental note of where we are, (3) casually glance around to see who’s around, then either (A) seems safe, go ahead and grab her hand; or (B) seems potentially unsafe, could be opening ourselves up to be physically attacked — don’t do it, keep walking.
Of course that’s crazy. But it’s what you do.
But on the other hand, there are so many people in this country who have open minds, who do not hate people just because they are different in this one way:
Since news broke of what police are calling a hate crime in which a lesbian Richmond resident was brutally gang raped over the weekend, Richmond police have received dozens of calls from people wanting to help, police Lt. Mark Gagan said Tuesday.
“Most of the calls were just people expressing concern for the victim and wanting to help financially,” he said.
Some callers have provided tips in the case but nothing yet that has produced an arrest, Gagan said.
The response has been so strong that police and the local group Community Violence Solutions, which assists rape victims and others, have set up an account for the victim.
“This particular case has sparked people’s compassion,” said Rhonda James, executive director of Community Violence Solutions.
People wanting to contribute can send a check made out to Community Violence Solutions to 2101 Van Ness St., San Pablo, Calif., 94806. Donors should write “Richmond Jane Doe” on the check in the memo space.
Those donations will go toward helping the victim.
“We’ll make sure 100 percent goes right to her,” James said.
Such is the complicated relationship Americans have with each other. And you never know who will be standing on which side — love or hate. I mean, when I first read about this story over at RawStory, the “alternative news” site, the majority of the commenters were sure this story would turn out to be a “hoax,” and had little or no sympathy for this victim.
So, no matter what your politics or religion may be, please join me in choosing love. Hate begins at home, but we have the power to fight it. When you hear the smooth-talking religion salesmen like Donnie McClurkin and Rick Warren saying they don’t “hate” gays, do not forget that they also say homosexuality is a choice (disproven), and an ailment (disproven).
Hate is still hate, “Pastor Rick,” no matter how many inocuous words you use to wrap it all up into a pretty little package. Your hands may not have touched the woman who was attacked in California, but your words surely did.