Millions of viewers have seen the brutal gay-bashing of Brandon White, the young Atlanta man whose vicious assault was videotaped and went viral across the internet. White could be seen ambushed by three young men, kicked, punched and hit with a tire while another man laughed repeatedly called him a "faggot."
Atlanta-based writer Charles Stephens—currently co-editing an anthology on Joseph Beam entitled Black Gay Genius—discusses this and other recent "Black on Black" anti-LGBT attacks at the Huffington Post. Stephens argues that definitions of Black "manhood" must be expanded—and that celebrated images of hyper-masculinity contribute to violence.
All of these incidents put a very real face to jarring reality that gay and transgender people of color are far more susceptible to acts of violence. Last year a report released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs showed that the number of hate crimes against members of the LGBT community rose 13 percent in 2010, and that people of color and transgender women were most likely to be targets of violence. The report also found that of the victims murdered in 2010, 70 percent were people of color and 44 percent were transgender women. ...
Conversation around African-American men and boys have centered on economic distress, employment instability, health disparities, and an unfair criminal justice system, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, what doesn't get attention is how stigma and structural anti-gay attitudes create an environment in which they are particularly vulnerable as both attackers and as victims. For instance, telling our young boys not to cry or to "man up" only shames them. They then grow up to "police" their brothers, male friends and sons in those same ways.
This can partly be prevented by challenging ourselves to imagine broader definitions of African-American manhood. Narrow notions of masculinity that privilege a particular kind of maleness are often part of the implicit and explicit anti-LGBT sentiment that shoots like an electric current through many of our communities. Certainly, what we call "hate crimes" and "gay bashing" is about targeting LGBT people. But there is a kind of "gender profiling" that happens as a way to penalize those among us who do not exhibit traditional notions of gender.
In other news: A fourth man has been charged in the case of Brandon White but police have not yet made an arrest. Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the assault. Seventeen-year-old Darael Damare Williams surrendered to Pennsylvania authorities on February 23. Williams is awaiting extradition. Nineteen-year-old Dorian Moragne surrendered on Feb. 17. Eighteen-year-old Christopher Cain was arrested on February 11. All face charges of aggravated assault and robbery.