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Brutal Gay-Basher handed suspended sentence

Quest for justice ends with ‘boys will be boys’ wrist slap

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Ryan Turner (who now goes by Williams) before and after he was beaten for being gay. Photos from Facebook used with permission.

Going on two years ago, a gang of homophobes beat Ryan Turner to a bloody pulp. He and some friends had gone to a McDonald’s in the town of Preston near Manchester in the UK. A group of young men confronted them in the drive-through, shouting, “Gay is wrong. You all need to die.”

Brandon Forrester, who was celebrating his 18th birthday, attacked Turner (who now goes by Ryan Williams on social media) so savagely that he lost consciousness and was transported to hospital by ambulance, where he spent two days recovering from a bad concussion and severe facial injuries.

Turner, who had been a working model and a professional drag queen before the attack, stopped working, started drinking heavily, and says he even thought about trying not to be gay.

I wrote about the incident at the time, in an article highlighting a wave of anti-LGBTQ violence sweeping the US and the UK. A friend of mine in the liberal UK city of Bristol had been randomly harassed (verbally and physically) for being gay not long before, so the story felt personal to me.

The judge just let Forrester off with a slap on the wrist

I never expected to write a follow-up. I supposed Turner would struggle to recover physically and spiritually, succeed eventually, and that the gang of young men who brutalized him would be tried, found guilty of hate crimes, and sent to prison. After all, they had inflicted severe bodily harm, and I figured the criminal justice system would be highly motivated to send a stern message that beating people up for being gay is intolerable.

That’s not what happened.

The judge in the case refused to classify the beating as a hate crime. The Crown prosecutor had to appeal to an independent magistrate, who ruled that (of course) beating somebody to a bloody pulp after shouting that gay people need to die counts as a hate crime.

The magistrate’s ruling made no difference.

The judge in the case still refused to acknowledge the severity of the matter or to send any stern messages. In a “lads will be lads” sentencing last week, he let Forrester off with a suspended sentence, chastising him not for being a brutal homophobic thug, but for going out drinking on his birthday.

Forrester won’t spend a day behind bars.

And what has the local community learned? Hate crimes may carry theoretically harsh consequences at law, but judges are likely to wink and let you get away with a fair bit of the old fag bashing. So long as you were drunk.

Why can’t I stop thinking about Clockwork Orange?

I was gay bashed in Greenwich Village, punched quite thoroughly because my partner and I had the nerve to look obviously gay. We ran from that incident, and the police never got involved. I wasn’t hospitalized, though I did bleed for quite a while.

That a long time ago, and things are supposed to have changed.

But if you’re like me, you notice something very consistent. The queer press is full of reports of queer bashing. You can barely go a day reading queer media without finding stories about somebody physically brutalized over their LGBTQ identity.

You’ll notice something else very consistent. Police almost always resist classifying such beatings as hate crimes, no matter how obvious the circumstances. It’s like it takes an act of God to get cops to admit that calling for gay people to die before you beat them really counts for anything.

Prosecutors do a little better, depending on geography. But in much of the US, as in the UK, beating up a person for being gay or trans may well have little legal consequence.

Ryan Turner is trying to move on

“Usually I would shrug things off,” Ryan says. “But the year this happened was the second time I had been physically attacked. Part of me feels like everything I have been through for the last 18 months is for nothing, but then if my story helps someone else then it was worth it.”

He’s ready to start his career again, and says supportive family and friends are giving him courage and strength, but the outcome of this legal case is setting him back.

He never expected the man who savagely beat him for being gay would walk out of the courtroom free. He doesn’t how know how to think or feel about that — how the lack of punishment reflects on his own worth.

I know how it reflects on mine. As a gay man who has been bashed and whose friends have been, I know what it feels like to have the system wink at homophobic brutality.

I know what it feels like to be so other that a violent crime committed against me can be shrugged off as “boys will be boys.” I can’t look at the photo at the top of this article without feeling anger and despair.

Ryan’s attacker deserves serious penal consequences. Ryan deserves justice. What happened in court last week was a mockery of the real thing.

James Finn is a former Air Force intelligence analyst, long-time LGBTQ activist, an alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, an essayist occasionally published in queer news outlets, and an “agented” novelist. Send questions, comments, and story ideas to [email protected]

The preceding originally appeared at James Finn – The Blog; Collected Writing. Stories and ramblings from a long-time LGBTQ thinker and activist. Republished by permission.

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The movement to protect LGBTQ civil rights encourages us to be bold

Equal rights for LGBTQ Americans feels more attainable than ever; we cannot afford to drop the baton right before the finish line

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Lindsey Horvath is the Mayor of West Hollywood (Photo courtesy of Lindsey Horvath)

By Lindsey Horvath | As the Mayor of West Hollywood, my roots as a leader have been shaped by the courage and activism of the LGBTQ community. The simple idea that we should be able to love who we love and live authentically without discrimination or fear has energized a beautiful, thriving movement that is transforming our county and our country for the better. 

I think a lot about Harvey Milk, who rebelled against the “conspiracy of silence” and inspired generations of LGBTQ public servants to speak out and be themselves. The idea of creating change by reclaiming who we authentically are instead of trying to fit into an oppressive mold to inspire change is incredibly powerful.

From trailblazers like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Bayard Rustin, and Morris Kight to the ever-inspiring leaders of today, the movement to promote and protect LGBTQ civil rights encourages us all to be bold and realize the power of our example.

As our generation of activists and allies steps up to lead, what kind of example do we want to set? At this turning point, are we going to think small? Are we going to let fear and “the way we’ve always done it” get in the way of real progress for the people who need it most? Are we going to let prejudice and division get in the way of our true potential?

Or will we be like the champions for change who got us here, fearless and relentless in our pursuit of full equality? If we look to our past, our mandate is to be nothing short of revolutionary.

Equal rights for LGBTQ Americans feels more attainable than ever; we cannot afford to drop the baton right before the finish line. We must codify penalties for discriminating against someone for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Creating safe spaces — in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities — is essential for us to be fully free. Housing, healthcare, and community services are critical components of building full and healthy lives. We need to ensure that everyone has access to the care, protections, and support they need to live as themselves. 

As your next County Supervisor, I will work with you to use the power of our example to eliminate sexual orientation and gender bias. No one should have to live in fear because of who they love or how they choose to identify.

With more than 10 million people, L.A. County is the most populous county in the United States. Our example is powerful. Together, we can build a future in L.A. County and our country where every person is able to live and thrive, loudly and proudly. 

Lindsey Horvath is the Mayor of West Hollywood. She has served as a Board member of the Victory Fund and a founding Board member of the NOH8 Campaign. In 2009, she represented the City of West Hollywood in the National Equality March in Washington DC. She has also advocated for LGBTQ older adults through her work on the Board of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).

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After returning to YouTube, Crowder goes on hateful tirade against Pride

Crowder engaged in a homophobic tirade, claiming that being gay could make mental health issues, promiscuity, and AIDS “more likely.”

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Screenshot of Louder with Crowder (Photo Credit: Media Matters)

By Jason Campbell | WASHINGTON – On June 3, Louder with Crowder returned to YouTube after the channel’s second suspension. After the show stopped livestreaming on YouTube and continued to stream behind the BlazeTV paywall, Crowder engaged in a homophobic tirade, claiming that being gay could make mental health issues, promiscuity, and AIDS “more likely.” He also ludicrously asserted that “all major historical gay figures” had AIDS.

STEVEN CROWDER (HOST): Here’s the thing: I don’t have a problem — if people want to be gay, sure, fine, whatever. I don’t care. And if you want to say you have a month, OK, fine —

DAVE LANDAU (CO-HOST): I have a lot of former friends that are gay. 

CROWDER: I don’t care. If you want to start having sex on floats, OK, that’s an issue. That’s an issue. That’s what happens in San Francisco or the Folsom Street Fair. But these are the people who are put out there as ambassadors. And now that becomes a problem because now it’s a conversation of sexualizing children. Now, if we just look at it — look, with kids, you’re going to say, “OK, you’re born gay. You’re born straight.” Fine, let’s just go with that. But you overwhelmingly celebrate gay. If it’s just something that’s a part of you, it either shouldn’t be celebrated or certainly you wouldn’t celebrate the one of the two versions that results in HIV, more likely; AIDS, more likely; promiscuity, more likely; mental health issues, more likely, but lower domestic abuse with gay people, higher with lesbians.

My point is if you’re just going to celebrate, hey, the preference of friction, why wouldn’t you celebrate the one that makes for the most productive environment for children and has worked for perpetuating the human species since ever. That’s all I’m saying. I just don’t think you need — you’re like — you’re just like telling kids, “Hey, hey, isn’t it great? They’re gay.” What does that mean? It means they have sex in a way that doesn’t work.

GERALD MORGAN JR. (CO-HOST): That has no productive value.

CROWDER: OK, fine. I don’t care. But I don’t know how this requires a month and people who died get a day. That’s all.

CROWDER: Honestly, let’s look at all major historical gay figures. You look at Milk.

You look at Harvey Milk. You look at people, you look at [UNINTELLIGIBLE] — these are people with AIDS. These are people — look, I think that if we want people to be happy you say, “Well, that shouldn’t be an example. Pick the domesticated Dave Rubin and make him your ambassador.” I just like — in other — like look at the — I’m just saying you’re not pointing to get examples because it’s not about what usually — what we used to want to do with children was encourage them, right? Guide them toward the kind of behavior that would create the most content, fulfilled, and productive members of society. Now it’s about making sure that they have the greatest awareness of the most marginalized victims. That’s why they’re not picking the Buzz Aldrin of the gay community. I’m just saying. I don’t even know who he is. Maybe it’s Buzz Aldrin.”

YouTube has a hate speech policy which states that the platform will remove any content promoting hatred against individuals and groups for attributes including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. It specifies that content is in violation of this policy if it claims “that individuals or groups are physically or mentally inferior, deficient, or diseased based on any of the attributes noted above.” In November 2020, YouTube removed two anti-trans videos from the right-wing propaganda network PragerU for violating this policy as they compared being trans to having a mental illness.

YouTube formally rebuked Crowder in March for violating its policy on misinformation and demeaning content. That same month, YouTube removed a video because it spread misinformation regarding COVID-19. In May, YouTube once again struck Crowder’s channel for violating the platform’s harassment, threats, and cyberbullying policy. During the particular episode that garnered the channel its second strike, Crowder and his co-hosts had mocked Ohio police shooting victim Ma’Khia Bryant’s weight.

Crowder’s show has consistently trafficked in racistsexistbigoted, and bullying content. He has also consistently promoted conspiracy theories and misinformation. By allowing Crowder to return to the platform with his long record of violating its content policies, YouTube is acting against the interests of those groups it claims to protect.

Jason Campbell is a researcher at Media Matters for America based in Washington D.C.

The preceding article was ordinally published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh makes extreme attacks on trans kids

Seemingly violating hate speech policies on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, Walsh says medical care for trans kids is “molestation and rape”

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Screenshot via Media Matters for America

By Brianna January | WASHINGTON – During the May 24 edition of The Daily Wire podcast The Matt Walsh Show, host Matt Walsh compared best practice medical care for trans youth to “molestation and rape” and repeatedly slandered the doctors who provide such necessary care. Walsh shared the episode to YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, despite those platforms’ hate speech policies that claim to prohibit such content.

In reality, best practice health care for trans youth is widely supported by medical professionals and yields long-term mental health benefits. Furthermore, young trans and gender-diverse children are not undergoing treatments or surgery until they are older — rather, as social work professor Katherine Kuvalanka told The Washington Post, “the only interventions for young children is affirmation and acceptance for who they are.”

Moreover, research shows that affirming families and communities can be lifesaving for young trans people. According to Reuters, a 2016 study in the journal LGBT Health found: “For transgender or gender non-conforming individuals, as rejection from family members increases, so does their likelihood of suicide attempts or substance abuse.”

During a nearly 20-minute monologue on his podcast, Walsh called such necessary care “mutilation,” said that advocates of best practice care for trans kids are trying to “undermine the legal, scientific, and philosophical case against pedophilia,” and claimed that a “child who is put on hormones and who has their body being mutilated is being sexually violated in a way that is just as depraved or damaging as molestation or rape.” He also repeatedly cited anti-trans author Abigail Shrier’s flawed theories on “social contagion” of transgender identity in adolescents (she has also compared being trans to having anorexia and joining a cult).

Walsh also attacked doctors who serve trans youth, calling them “evil — we’re talking about Nazi scientist-evil” and “pedophiles,” and he said performing affirming procedures has “plastic surgeons basically acting like Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” The podcast’s episode is even titled “The Evil Quacks Mutilating Our Children.”

Instead of supporting best practice medical care, Walsh seemingly advocated for the discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy for trans kids, saying that “the goal of therapy should be quite literally the exact opposite” of affirming a child’s gender identity. 

Walsh’s podcast was shared on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, seemingly in violation of their hate speech policies

Facebook’s community standards define hate speech “as a direct attack against people on the basis of what we call protected characteristics,” including gender identity and expression. The platform prohibits “dehumanizing speech or imagery in the form of comparisons, generalizations, or unqualified behavioral statements,” including baselessly describing people as a “sexual predator” or as “violent and sexual criminals.” Additionally, Facebook banned posts that “advertise or promote” conversion therapy in 2020.

Similarly, YouTube’s hate speech policy states that the platform will “remove content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups” based on attributes including sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex or gender. It also bans “conspiracy theories saying individuals or groups are evil, corrupt, or malicious based on any of the attributes noted above.” YouTube cites examples of content that violates the policy, including videos that “allege the superiority of a group over those with any of the attributes noted above to justify violence, discrimination, segregation, or exclusion.” Notably, the platform has removed videos in the past for comparing being trans to having mental illness.

Likewise, Twitter’s hateful conduct policy states that users “may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of … sexual orientation, gender, [or] gender identity.” The company also claims to be “committed to combating abuse motivated by hatred, prejudice or intolerance, particularly abuse that seeks to silence the voices of those who have been historically marginalized,” including “women, people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual individuals, marginalized and historically underrepresented communities.”

Despite these policies against hate speech targeting trans people, Walsh shared the May 24 episode of his podcast on all three platforms. He shared and pinned it to his Facebook page, part of the Daily Wire’s network of several anti-LGBTQ pundits with large Facebook platforms which is often used to misinform about trans people; uploaded it to YouTube, where it has earned almost 52,000 views in under 24 hours; and shared and pinned it on his Twitter account.

If Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are serious about their claims to care about their LGTBQ users, they should not tolerate Matt Walsh and the Daily Wire network’s continued use of their platforms to attack trans people and lie about them.

Brianna January is a researcher for the LGBTQ program at Media Matters. Brianna holds a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and has a background in LGBTQ human rights and advocacy.

The preceding piece was originally published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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