Matthew was tied to a fence in rural Wyoming after being pistol-whipped and tortured — left to die. The moment we heard about his death, long before it was ever classified as a hate crime, in the very pits of our stomachs we knew that’s exactly what it was. But some voices, apparently unfazed by the horror of the crime, tried to rationalize that he must have created “gay panic” by coming onto his attackers.
Bryan’s unconscious, battered body was found in the Castro near dawn, badly beaten. Days later he was removed from life support. While some suggested he was probably just a victim of robbery, the immediate watery eyes and shudder felt by gays and lesbians evoked a knowing that something far more sinister caused his death.
Marichuy, a transgender woman detained among men in an Arizona immigration detention center, was raped — even after she had reported being harassed, bullied and threatened with rape. Many suggested she got what she deserved for her non-normative gender expression. Others, as is the case for many women who are raped, speculated about what she must have done to deserve it.
Those who have themselves survived such crimes wept aloud — or they wept quietly, alone.
Michael, an unarmed young, black man of considerable stature, was gunned down by a police officer in Missouri. Many quickly labeled the killing as justified, because the young man might have stolen something earlier in the day, or because he probably did something to deserve it — while the hearts of the black community broke. Again.