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23 August 2010

Comments

Nathan James

I have been following this story from the begining. It's clear we'll never know what really happened that fateful night, but a few things are plausible:

Gaymon, having been discovered by Esposito, and seeing his whole life--personal and professional--disintegrating before him, panicked. He was reacting with fear, and tried to physically run away from a problem that wasn't going away. Gaymon's marriage, family life, and CEO position in one of the largest credit unions in the South, would not have survived his outing by arrest. There would have been no possibility of keeping his activities in Branch Brook Park quiet; he would have faced divorce and the Board of his bank would have asked him to quietly resign.

Whether or not Esposito needed to shoot Gaymon is something we'll never know, because it's highly unlikely any independent witnesses--if any were actually there--will come forward to tell what they saw. However, if I may make an observation: Gaymon made a choice, probably long ago, to stay in the closet. I can state with almost total certainty, that if Gaymon had chosen to live his life as an out gay man of color, he would not have risen to the level of success he enjoyed in his chosen profession, regardless of his education or qualifications. Argue that point with me all you want, but that is a FACT. (Many employers now routinely check the Facebook or Myspace pages of job applicants. One of the things they try to find out, is your sexual orientation, which is either indicated on your "info" page, or by the preponderance of your "friends" and groups. They then often use this information in making hiring choices, since it is not discoverable by the applicant.)

While not condoning his poor judgment in choosing the park for his dalliance (consider that renting a motel room would have left a paper trail, and using the hotel where the reunion was held would have been too risky), I can understand the hard place Gaymon was in. Is it better to stay in the closet, pretend to be straight and "socially acceptable", and enjoy the rewards this brings? Gaymon had a huge house, a wife, four kids, and the social status and respect professional success confers. If he chose to live as a gay man, his life would have been more turbulent. Society still isn't ready to accept the gays and lesbians among them, (almost every week, Rod reports on some horrible gay-bashing or homophobic backlash against us) and Gaymon likely decided he did not want to suffer these slings and arrows.

The trouble is, if you decide to stay in the closet, your life will be a constant struggle to suppress your true orientation, which will try to assert itself with great force. That's what ultimately put Defarra Gaymon in that park, and that's what got him killed. If we lived in a more understanding, open society, Gaymon might have found it possible to live his truth as who he was, and achieve personal and professional success, too.

worst_1_yet

This is a hard case to get a handle on.
It's so easy for a cop to say that he saw the other person reaching in his pocket (as if to produce a gun, a la Sean Bell). BUT! Who reaches for a gun that isn't there when a cop's got his own gun trained on you? Sounds like total B.S. coming from Esposito.
What Mr. Gaymon was doing in that park no one will ever know, but it certainly can't be justified by some bullshit copspeak.

Dluv

That was on point Nathan, but I still don't understand why he would put himself in that dangerous situation. You and I know that if your a man still in the closet, there are many far safer ways to get with other men of your status. All I could think of is he truly had a secret life where he was atrracted to the danger, doing something a man of his status, gay or straight, would never do. I believe when he was alledgedly engaged in that sex act in the park, he was another person in another world. But when that police officer happened upon him, he was snapped back into cold ugly reality.

Black Pegasus

@ Nathan James

I was in agreement of your comment up until you decided to Blame Defarra's Death on his closet status instead of a Trigger Happy Cop.

When all of the pontificating is done, this case is about an unarmed man who was shot to death by a predator cop. A cop who's job it was to entrap and arrest gay men. Instead of using this case to blast closeted men, we should instead examine the way ALL GAY MEN are treated by Law Enforcement.

Gay Men who choose double lives are already living in their own personal hells; they don't need any of us standing on soapboxes holding signs that read:"I Told Ya So"

anonymous

Nathan, you often speak wise words and I have appreciated your point of view in the past. My words here are written with respect to you.

I disagree strongly with your contention that (in your words) "Gaymon made a choice, probably long ago, to stay in the closet."

How do you know that Mr. Gaymon was in the closet? How do you know that he considered himself to be gay? How do you know what he was doing in the park that night (you do point out that we may never know, but then you undercut that statement with poor assumptions)?

That park is also a less well-known hangout for drug users. I have gone into other parks late at night looking for a friend who was a drug abuser to bring her home or to rehab after getting a frantic call from her. Even though their were cruisers in the park, I wasn't cruising that park on that occasion.

You simply DO NOT know the facts and your conjectures are extremely damaging and problematic.

Furthermore, many men identify as straight--fully functioning straight--yet have sex with men on the side occasionally for fun. I've met a few married men in my life who insist that some guys simply give better head. & I've met straight men who are voyeurs, exhibitionists, or who are into kink--whose side-sexual tastes defy their usual regular life as fully functioning straight men.

Your commentary trots out a very un-sophisticated polemic about being in the closet that is not backed up by AIDS prevention data about "men who have sex with men" and their complex self-identifications. Not everyone fits your picture of needing to come out. It is, in fact, far more complex than that.

Nathan James

Anonymous, I don't expect everyone to agree with me, and I do understand your exception to some of my commentary. However, I still think Gaymon was struggling with being closeted, and even if we accept that he was a "fully functioning straight man", I think men meeting that description aren't habing sex with men, period. These men are bisexual, not "straight". From my reading of the many accounts of Gaymon's tragic demise, I get the overwhelming impression that he was trying to satisfy his sexul needs while protecting all that he had worked so long and hard to achieve. In highly conservative professions, like banking, one is expected to project and maintain a certain social image. Gaymon's position and status demanded a heterosexual image, and that's what he gave the world at large.

I agree that coming-out issues are complex and dynamic, but in this particular case, Gaymon was unlikely to have been in the park for something other than sexual purposes. If Esposito is to be believed, and Gaymon was, in fact, masturbating in the park (something he could have done in the privacy of his hotel room), then this brings up issues of Gaymon's sexuality. It's also possible Esposito and Gaymon were engaged in sex, and Esposito, himself fearful of being outed, shot Gaymon and concocted a cover story to protect himself. The fact that Esposito was given four days to get his story together before investigators interviewed him, makes any accounting he gives highly suspect in itself.

The unpleasant reality is that our society forces people into the closet and keeps them there, and that Gaymon died, partially because our homophobic society isn't prepared to treat gays with the respect and dignity human beings deserve.

Black Pegasus

Not sure why my original comment never got posted, but I'll simply say that it's unfortunate when some in the Gay community seek to make this issue about Closeted Men.

Lets all sit back for a minute and remind ourselves that an unarmed man was shot to death by a trigger happy cop. Those are the only facts we should be concerned with.

Instead of blaming Dafarra's DL life for his tragic end, we should be asking questions about how Law Enforcement treats Gay people in general.

Gay Men who choose double lives are already living in their own personal hell. They don't need the world standing on soapboxes yelling "I Told Ya So".

Jamar Herrod

The last person who post anonymous was right on point. Thanks for your input. We are indeed on the same page.

Da Truth

I disagree! Any male who does gay sexual acts is GAY! Stop sugar-coating it with denial. Just because one doesn't want to face it doesn't mean it ain't what it is.

anonymous

Da Truth: Once we stop saying that all men who have sex with men are gay then we will start REALLY looking at life the way that they look at life and helping them prevent disease and other problems. Some men simply do not identify as gay and it isn't about sugar-coating or hiding. They like women, function with women, but also have their other kinks and predilections. Now don't get me wrong: there are scores of closet queens and hidden gays! But then there are the brothas that are far more complex and sexually fluid who are routinely left out of our equations. We must sophisticate our ideas and language about sexuality. AIDS prevention research has progressed in theorizing that "gay" and "queer" are not often part of the worldview of some black men and it often has nothing to do with them being self-hating or closeted in the stereotypical sense.

D. M.

Am I the only one who believes it was a tryst? Why all the focus on Gaymon? It reads as quite mutual, I believe.

Chitown Kev

@D.M.

You mean on the part of Esposito, as well?

Yeah, the very fact that Esposito would go back to the park, alone, to retrieve his handcuffs out of the bushes never did sound right to me.

I never did think that Gaymon was the only one in this story on the DL. And the NYT is going at that angle but in a very...gay-baiting way?

Mystic Stranger

If you are in the bushes cruising for sex with men, you are gay. PERIOD. Why do black people try to sugarcoat such things? It is what it is. I don't give a damn if a man is married and has kids or not ... if he's having sex with men he's gay, bottom line. I don't care how a man identifies, some things are what they are.

Chitown Kev

@Mystic Stranger

"Why do black people try to sugarcoat such things?"

Really? It's not as if black people coined the term "lifting luggage," you know.

"If you are in the bushes cruising for sex with men, you are gay."

No, that might make you homosexual or bisexual but it doesn't make you "gay."


BrianQTD

Some of the comments are undeniably lashing out at Gaymon, who actually may be a victim here. But the anger is there because these guys who engage in man-on-man sex still feel as though they have the right to claim straight privilege when they are not living up to the conventional expectations of straight life--regardless of what you call it ("gay," "straight," "DL," "bibbedy-bobbidy-boo"). I have to admit, it is pretty infuriating. While those who engage in same-sex behavior may not be "gay" I think it is still deceitful for them to wrap themselves in the label "straight" and help themselves to all the perks and privileges that this label gives you. So yeah, the gall of it kind of pisses me off too.

As far as this case is concerned, what ever happened to the idea of "absolute power corrupts absolutely"? I don't care how noble you think cops are, power is inherently dangerous (like that ring in Lord of the Rings). This entire situation--where a lone cop goes into a dark, seedy place unaccountable and with no oversight--should never happen, ever. There need to be more checks on police authority in this country.

Lang B

I am even more so confused about this story and EVEN the word GAY opposed to homosexual. I am right to assume that gay means (indulges-enjoys and hangs in the SGL community)and homosexual means has sex with the same gender but not part of the community?

Bernie B

The anonymous poster was sooo on point ... Many men think sex is just what it is ... SEX ... and however one can get it they will try ... Many a man has messed around with a another guy whether experimenting when adolescents, teenagers, drunk in college or whatever but easily snap right back into having sex with women when that urge rises ... Can most gay men do that? No, I do not think so ... There are lots of men who love coochie and also love the peen ... that is a true fact of life. Sexuality does not come in cute, neat, perfect little boxes ... It's complicated in all its aspects.

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