On the same weekend the slayings of Michael Sandy and Rashawn Brazell are making headlines in New York City, another gruesome murder of a black, gay man is being remembered in West Virginia. Through art.
"See Related Story: The Murder of J.R. Warren" is a multi-media exhibit created by visual artist Rory Golden. It opens this week in Fairmont, WV at Fairmont State University and, hopefully, will travel nationwide to "renew debate over racism, bigotry and what constitutes a hate crime in America," the artist says.
The 26-year-old black gay man, who was also disabled, was killed on July 4, 2000. In an eerie prallel to the Michael Sandy homicide, JR Warren was beaten severely, run over by a car twice and left to die. Prosecutors said two 17-year-olds—David Allen Parker and Jared Matthew Wilson—attempted to stage a hit and run. The reason? "No one knew [Warren] was also having a sexual relationship with 17-year-old David Allen Parker, who believed Warren had shared their secret with others."
The case failed to qualify as a hate crime under either state or federal law. West Virginia has no laws that incorporate sexual orientation, and, federal hate crimes statutes do not include sexual orientation. "Anyone can see how horrible it was, and yet we never go beyond that and look at our day-to-day lives and how they contribute to that," says Golden, who now lives in Brooklyn. "I made a choice several years ago to focus my creative work and life on eradicating racism and homophobia, and to do whatever I can to get people to talk about it."
Artist's exhibit focuses on murder of gay, black man (Wilmington Star)
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