OutUK Archive Item
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.

Clifton Spires is the father of a gay son who walked out of the family home in 1996 after a family row and they've never seen or spoken to each other since. A journalist living in Ohio with his wife and other son he now campaigns vigorously for gay rights and each week on OutUK he reflects on how this affects his life and family. Though it's written in America, we believe the issues he deals with affect the worldwide gay community. Previous columns are archived in OutBack.

A Case for the Purpose of Hate Crimes

Why am I strangling,
Dangling from this tree?
Is it to give human trash
the hope that through my death
they can rise above their cesspool of hatred and stay blind?
Is it to allow novelty postcard manufacturers
the opportunity to market
another photographed lynching?
Is it to allow a drug addicted blues singer
to sing about the strange fruit
she found hanging in a
white businessman's willow tree?
Or is it to inspire cleaning women
not to sit at the back of the bus and
school children that the water is the same
at any drinking fountain?

Why am I standing here naked,
staring at the shower head,
listening to the others
pounding on the cement walls,
murmuring Kaddish,
covering their exposed parts
from others also exposed,
waiting for the death gas?
Is it to allow a self-proclaimed
master race to feel like masters?
Is it to encourage generations
of Middle East immigrants
to shout "Never again!"
and "The best defense
is a good offense?"
Or is it to quietly allow my life
to be acted out through every generation
in high schools around the world,
to draw tears from bland-faced teenagers
who never encountered such hatred before
and lead them into an enlightened adulthood,
anxious to speak out against injustice?

Why am I lying on my bed,
my bleeding throat small in this strange man's hands
which are stealing my life, just has he has
done seven times before on this night,
while my roommate, of whom he has lost track,
lies holding her breath underneath us,
listening to murder?
Is it to allow a warped-face loser
to triumph over the abuses of his childhood
and the women who have spurned him?
Is it to allow police gazettes,
the tabloid true crime rags,
to sell pages about the works of
serial rapists and mass killers?
Is it to let sociologists and criminologists
argue over rehabilitation vs. punishment?
Or is it to empower future generations of women,
shouting "No!", studying men's anatomy
for the softest points of vulnerability,
and saying, "I am not equal, but better!"
in a world of male predators.

Why am I lying bloodied at my receptionist's desk,
where a man with a big cross around his neck
threw acid in the beautiful face of a nurse,
shot to death the kindly retired doctor
who helped women choose to control their lives,
and left me to die amid
a pile of reproductive rights pamphlets?
Is it to allow the killer's clergyman,
who called us all "baby killer,"
to use our deaths to promote
his kind of prayer in school?
Is it to cause old liberals,
in their Unitarian households,
to cluck about senseless crime?
Or is it to allow other women,
other medical professionals
to take our places,
aware of the opportunity for martyrdom?

Why am I, barely capable
of a lucid, conscious thought
in my battered brain,
freezing to death, barefoot
on a cold October night,
tied like a scarecrow to a post
on the lonely prairie?
Am I being punished
for looking for love
among the skinhead trailer trash cowboys
in all the wrong places?
Was I wrong for dreaming
of a life where I can be true
to my small fragile self
and still be of service to the world?
Or is my pending demise going to occur
because the loss of a gay college student is the last straw in a world where
paragraphs, single sentences about hate crimes
can fill seventeen hours on MTV?
Because it is the trigger
to finally horrify millions
when a black man is dragged to his death in pieces?
When an Asian teen is kicked to death by black sisters?
When Jewish and Moslem headstones are defaced in cemeteries?
When a dog is slaughtered and hung from the rural mailbox
of its owners, two women who love each other?

It is because it is the outrage
that causes a shy big woman
to take her case to the management
of the supermarket where a clerk
is overheard saying, "I hope I never get that fat!"
It is because it is the obscenity which causes
families to tell a bigoted relative to just shut up!
It is the tightening of the gut,
the bile in the throat,
the flash of teeth and eyes
that makes all thinking,
hot-bleeding, just-had-enoughs
respond to those who sit
tisketing and tasketing and fretting
about why doesn't someone do something?

We shout:
"Why doesn't someone?
"Why don't you?
"Why don't I
"Why don't we?

Published 18th January 2001


search | site info | site map | new this week | outuk shop | home | outback | more



  UK gay lads | Gay news UK | Gay travel and holidays UK | UK & London gay scene

OutUK features the latest gay news, advice, entertainment and information together with gay guides to cities and holiday destinations around the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. There are hundreds of galleries of photos and videos of the sexiest gay guys plus intimate personal profiles of thousands of gay lads from all around the UK.