Being gay can (still) get you killed

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

For all my cheerleading of the advances the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has made in this country, I know that things are not as wonderful as they could be or should be. Being gay can (still) get you fired from your job. And as we’re seeing in New York City, being gay can (still) get you killed.

Mark Carson was killed after being shot in the face allegedly by Elliot Morales on a busy Greenwich Village street around midnight on Saturday. According to the New York Post, Morales and a friend spotted Carson and his best friend on Sixth Avenue because of what they were wearing. “Look at these f—–s,” one of them said. “What are you, gay wrestlers?” Words were exchanged; Carson and his friend moved on. But Morales allegedly wasn’t done.

“Do you want to die here?” Morales allegedly asked before shooting Carson. Morales tried to get away but was later apprehended by police. Morales was looking for trouble that night. Earlier in the evening, according to the New York Times, Morales allegedly hurled anti-gay slurs at the bartender of a West Village restaurant before showing off his holstered revolver and threatening to kill him if he called the cops.

“This clearly looks to be a hate crime,” said New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly of the Carson murder. Unfortunately, such bias-related crimes are on the upswing in the Big Apple. Kelly said there have been 22 such crimes this year, compared with 13 during the same period last year. And as the Times points out, the tragedy of early Saturday morning was the fifth attack on gay men in the past three weeks.

“There was a time in New York City when two people of the same gender could not walk down the street arm in arm without fear of violence and harassment,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “We refuse to go back to that time.” I remember those days in the early 1990s when toughs from New Jersey and the outer boroughs would prowl the streets of the Village for gay victims to bash with bats, pipes, boots and fists.

Of course, where Carson was murdered is less than a quarter of a mile from the Stonewall Inn, where the 1969 riot that sparked the modern LGBT civil rights movement took place. Much has changed since those days when feisty drag queens and gay boys, fed up with police harassment, tangled with cops. But the Carson murder is a horrific reminder of how far we still must go.

Follow Jonathan Capehart on Twitter.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
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Jonathan Capehart | May 20, 2013