Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Kevin Aviance leaves hospital, St. Marteen gay bash ring leader surrenders

Boston's EDGE probably has the best article I've read on developments since Kevin Aviance was attacked on early Saturday morning.

To be honest, I've been taken aback a bit by the amount of national (and international) coverage that the news has gotten compared to other attacks that have happened recently against members of the LGBT community in New York and elsewhere. Part of it is the fact that he's a pretty well-known and well-connected performer, the fact that it happened during pride month in what is considered to be one of the gayest neighborhoods of the city, and the fact that he thankfully survived, all of which has made it a news story with legs.

For example, Clarence Patton of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, tells EDGE "The sad thing is, within an hour of this incident, a similar attack happened in Astoria Queens with three victims - and they were attacked by seven or eight guys," and yet that is the only reference I have read or seen about that particular attack.

Not sure whether this is due to a lack of additional information, the fact that it happened in Queens and not in media-friendly Manhattan or whether the victims were not as connected or media-savvy (or would want to talk to reporters).

In any case, it is good to see Kevin Aviance leave the hospital so soon after the attack and it is certainly good news that he is still planning to participate in the pride events coming up at the end of the month. One thing that struck me from the EDGE article was something that Councilmember Rosie Mendez said right after visiting the singer in the hospital before he was released:
"He was concerned about the individuals who did this. He said ’they were young kids, they could be my brothers and I don’t know what’s going to happen to them.’ There he was, with his mouth wired shut, [and] he was concerned about others."

In the meantime, there's news about another hate crime that took place in the Caribbean to other well-connected folks: "Duracell," who is described as the ring leader in the St. Marteen attack against two gay tourists from the United States, has surrendered. This after one of the men who was attacked, Richard Jefferson, went back to the island and chided authorities for letting the man apparently escape to Guadalupe (Mr. Jefferson must be greatly credited for the way he has engaged the St. Marteen's authorities after surviving such an attack and demanded justice).

St. Marteen's The Daily Herald says that arrests made in the case show that the authorities have done some good work though, just as Mr. Jefferson did during the latest press conferences, it also calls for people to be more forthcoming with helping the authorities in resolving brutal crimes, including the recent rape and murder of Angelique Chauvire also in St. Marteen.

Unfortunately while Mr. Jefferson has been able to take an active role in seeking justice, Ryan Smith, the other gay man who suffered injuries in the attack is still recuperating in Miami. In May, Queerty sat down with Mr. Smith and interviewed him. He speaks candidly about the attack and says:
The only reason the St. Maarten government is doing anything about this crime is because Dick Jefferson and I work as journalists. As victims, it’s our job to inform everyone what happened to us; as journalists it is our job to put the issue in context. They may claim they are investigating the crime for us, but we need to question how many of these crimes have been ignored.
Read the complete interview here.


Anonymous said...

How many people who are gay bashed have publicists? I was not impressed by the coverage, over all. Our community should be rallying around all victims of bias attacks and promoting the message that cynical efforts by political and religious leaders to demonize the LGBT community as a threat to American families creates the dangerous climate in which these attacks take place. We should take all our elected officials to task, including those "friends" of our community who don't stand up for us against tyrants and bullies.

Anonymous said...

The coverage hasn't been great in terms of substance but in terms of visibility it's been incredible. It's important for people (including us) to be reminded that these kinds of bashings happen all the time in our neighborhoods.

I think a lot of the attention is due to the fact that he's an entertainer with a publicist. The fact that he performs in drag makes for good television. He's already a media personality. I'm just glad he's speaking out loud and queer.

I think it's easy to lose perspective on the kind of public profile he has. A lot of us are used to seeing him just carrying on like any other drag queen at a club (very "oh, her") but don't forget he has songs at the top of Billboard. Still, I think we have to remind ourselves that those guys weren't attacking a drag queen. As far as they were concerned it seems they were attacking just another fag.

Anonymous said...

St. Marteen deserves a gay boycott for its shameful response to the bashing.