A straight black Baltimore public school teacher writes a poignant letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun, speaking out against the horrific murder of 15-year-old Jason Mattison and the systemic homophobia that targeted Mattison and other black gay youth. Why does the black community teach homophobia to their young? asks J.B. Salganik.
As a Baltimore City public school teacher, I hear about one homophobic slur an hour. Usually, this homophobia is reserved for gay men rather than lesbians, who are somewhat more accepted. Even intelligent, educated adults I meet will often surprise me with such prejudice, and this is especially true in the black community. Usually this prejudice is justified by religious convictions, but slave owners used to go to church on Sundays and quote the Bible too. Gay people have always existed, in every culture and country in history, yet we are told their sexual orientation is unnatural and perverted. What is the threat that these people pose to the rest of us that they must be denied their full rights of citizenship?
You would think that the leaders of the black community, a group that has experienced so much discrimination and prejudice over the course of American history, would be the last to turn around and stigmatize other people, but the opposite is true. ...People need to realize that, historically, the same organizations that have sought to deny rights to gays have also discriminated against blacks. As such, my heart goes out to the gay African-American men and boys of Baltimore and the nation. I sincerely hope to see the day when they can feel safe in their own communities and enjoy the full benefits of American life, including the chance to serve in the military and to marry. Or simply feel safe in high school.
Jason Mattison's English teacher also writes to the Sun, which should be applauded for its sensitive reporting.
There's been a rash of violence against gay youth especially those who are black or Latino. Mattison's murder happened the same week a gay high school student was attacked by metal pipe-wielding classmates in Houston. Also last week: A substitute teacher in suburban Atlanta was arrested for allegedly soliciting another student to kill a 16-year-old student who was gay. Both students are black gay teens. And of course the Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado tragedy happened the weekend before last in Puerto Rico.
In related news: The $1 million bond for Dante Parrish has been revoked. The 35-year-old ex-con who apparently forced Jason Mattison into a sexual relationship and confessed to killing him is now being held without bail.
Many Questions After Brutal Slaying