Friday, August 22, 2008

A Note to the Utah Pride Center

(EDIT: I feel now I was quite wrong with my first impressions in this post; this incident may have been a genuine anti-gay hate crime. Thanks to those of you who've shown me the other side of the story presented in the Tribune. I apologize for jumping to conclusions.)

I'm out of town so this will be quick, but I just read this story in the trib, here.

A man (who happens to be gay) is accused of a kidnapping. Read the story for the details, or the following may not make sense.

I just want to say, I hope your stance on this was misrepresented, Marina Gomberg, spokeswoman for the Utah Pride Center.

Even if everything went down as the suspect claims (originally) and even if he thought he was doing right to help get these kids some z's, he took children from their parent's home without telling their parents (allegedly...). Thank goodness nothing happened to the children. That is the most important fact here. Look though, even with the kids being okay, I'd be likely to have performed a "hate crime" on that gay man if I were those parents. My sympathies are with them here, not the gay man, and the leadership of the gay community should not be putting a concern about whether or not the family overreacted because of the suspect's orientation at the top of the heap. I mean, who the h*beep*l does the suspect think he is? And now he wants to claim his beating was some anti-gay hate crime?! When he was supposedly invited to their party? It makes no sense.

This is exactly the thing that makes hate crimes laws less and less likely. As a gay man, I don't feel threatened by this man's beating, why? Because I'd don't take children from their parent's home. I feel threatened by the gay man's (alleged) actions here, as a parent. It's that simple. Gay community leaders, backing this guy seems like a good way
to sink hate-crime laws and hurt us everywhere else.

In fact, next to anti-gay rights activists, such gay men and women, crying homophobia when they are at fault, are the greatest threat to our rights. Most conservative LDS in Utah reading that article are going to think, "Yep, look at that. Look at how those gays want to kidnap and molest children. And they want marriage rights? To be parents?! No way." They will use this to harm the gay community on whole and my family. It doesn't matter that in the same paper, the same day, a heterosexual was convicted of much worse, of actually kidnapping and raping a child. They won't see that as a critique on themselves. As a minority we are judged by the worst of us and no one thinks, for example, "Remember Wanda Barzee and Brian David Mitchel? I guess you just can't trust those straight folks with children."

So please, Utah pride center, be careful and thoughtful. When interviewed, try to find some objective perspective, if not for the right reasons, for sake of justice, then for the sake of the gay community on whole. It is not pro-gay to be only pro-gay.

I hope I'm wrong and that you'll tell me so. I hope it's not like it seems in the article: that your main concern was that these people will be prosecuted for beating a man who took their children, gay man or not. Please, tell me I'm way off base; this is one instance in which I'd love to be reprimanded for jumping to conclusions.


Edgy said...

I'm in agreement with you. I see no reason to automatically come to the defense of a gay man just because he's gay.

What concerns me most with this case is that this article is, oh, the fifth variation of the story of what happened that evening that I've heard. And each story was reported in some news venue. I think there's a whole lot of sketchiness going on here.

Scot said...

Edgy, thanks, you got me to search out some more articles and you're right. I should have looked for them before posting but I'm using dile up here :-).There seems to be a lot of the story missing or in dispute here.

I must say, after reading other versions, that I may be absolutely in the wrong here. I hope to be, though. If only truth weren't so hard to find.

Mia Culpa, maybe.

Kengo Biddles said...

Scot, FWIW, I know the guy. I grew up with him (knew he was gay within 5 minutes of meeting him, even though he denied it for another 15 years...).

I bring this up to say that we were all shocked who know him, because it doesn't remotely seem that he would have any malicious intent, and with allegations that the kids were wandering the neighborhood looking for their parents, and everything else, I think that this case is a big mess, and that DJ really isn't guilty as charged--drunken, probably, stupid, yes. Kidnapper with other malevolent intentions? No.

Worth beating up, trying to slit his throat, and beating the hell out of his partner because he was in the room trying to break it up?

Especially when the beating took place after the fact, and that it was the gay couple who lived with him that called the police (for the first time in the whole event)...

It smacks of something stinky, you ask me.

Scot said...

Thank you Kengo, for speaking up. I'll take your word over the police's on this.

I have to say now I think I totally went off the rails here in a blur of protective parent irrationality. It seems that Tribune story had a strong bias that I should have questioned more throughly.

My first reaction was that, if anyone took our children into their bedroom, I'd be likely to go into a fit of rage too, and if I was straight, orientation wouldn't matter. But I can now see how this could have been a hate crime, and how fault may be in the parents who were having an "all night" party with kids wandering, lost.

I was wrong, and I apologize.

Marina said...

It is with much pride that I write this response. Pride because I am honored to be a part of and participate in a community with such fair-minded and progressive members. I applaud staying informed. I applaud writing about things that matter. I applaud opening two-way discussions. And I applaud being open to new perspectives.

As you have noticed since your first post, there has been quite a bit of discussion around this complicated issue in the press, and there are many varying details and points of view. Deciding the guilt or innocence of the people involved seems like it will be a long and arduous task, one which can only be handled correctly and appropriately by our judicial system. The Utah Pride Center has confidence in that system and hopes justice is served, which is what I communicated to Erin Alberty of the Salt Lake Tribune.

The Utah Pride Center is a community-based organization that provides support, education, outreach and advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer (GLBTQ) individuals and their allies, through programs, services and resources. As such, our role in this case has been to provide resources and referrals to the DJ, his partner Dan, and their families and friends. Some of the things we did included ensuring DJ was being treated fairly in jail, contacting attorneys and foundations (both locally and nationally) who would take the case pro-bono, offering our expertise to DJ’s attorney on how to most effectively talk about GLBTQ issues in the media, and connecting them with media outlets that would better illuminate their side of the story. And we plan on continuing to serve them in the capacities we can.

I do appreciate your perspective and agree with you that it is unproductive for the GLBTQ community to assume one’s innocence just because of her/his sexual orientation – just as we hope the larger community doesn’t assume one’s guilt because of her/his sexual orientation.

Thank you for the opportunity to have a thoughtful dialogue, and please feel free to contact us directly if you ever have thoughts or concerns. We welcome feedback – good or constructive – because it keeps us connected and better able to serve our community.

Marina Gomberg
Utah Pride Center

Scot said...

Thank you, Marion, for dropping in. I was hoping the use of some key words, like your name :-), would bring information right form the source here.

I'm willingly eating crow on this one, and I know I posted in frustration.

If you're still around, I'd enjoy understanding how you viewed that particular article.

The impression given to me was:

1.a man is invited and goes to a neighbor's party.
2.he leaves with their children without the parents knowing.
3.he's found with the children in his bedroom.
4. the children's family becomes violent.
5. the gay community is eager to see the children's family prosecuted.

If 1 through 3 happened, #4 is still wrong but it's quite likely. I think most parents here could see themselves becoming unhinged at such appearances, particularly if the women who found the children expressed some suspicion of molestation. I think that is true regardless of the orientations involved, which made a claim of a hate crime seem very improbable.

I can see now that you didn't necessarily state #5. Maybe I've no idea how the majority here reads such things, and maybe I've too pessimistic of expectations, but by the end it seemed the message now out was that Utah Pride Center is not concerned about the possibility of there being a kidnapping. That imagined message, that the gay community is, in effect, selfish and lacking perspective (a common stereotype in these parts) is what set me off and I regret it. Ironically, I was lacking perspective.

I can see your predicament here, though, and have been in a similar position. If your mission is to help GLBTQ, regardless, it will harm the GLBTQ community as a whole when you help a GLBT or Q individual who has actually done wrong (not that this is one of those cases).

Scot said...

Oops, that should be Marina, not Marion.