After our school held a Vigil for the recent LGBTQ suicides, I had a conversation with my roommate about who was a gay martyr. That conversation in part inspired my third column, which my editor titled Message of gay empowerment not to be confused with martyrdom of those who committed suicide.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Questioning (LGBTQ) community’s talk of Tyler as a martyr isn’t accurate. Yes, Tyler did commit suicide, primarily because of the harassment he received, but at most it just adds him to the long and growing list of LGBT youth who have committed suicide. All martyrs are victims but not all victims are martyrs.
Tuesday, October 12th marks the 12th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death. Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old college student from the University of Wyoming who was robbed, beaten and murdered because he was gay. You may be familiar with his story if you have read or seen The Laramie Project. Shepard’s two killers were tried and found guilty of felony murder and are serving two life sentences. They were not charged with a hate crime because there was no Wyoming statue allowed a hate crime charge.
Emphasis is my own.
What I didn’t include is a discussion of other famous Gay Martyrs. Perhaps Harvey Milk was a gay martyr, as he was the first openly gay man to be elected into public office. But he was assassinated by a fellow city councilor who was angry over losing his job, so there were political undertones to his assassination. (The mayor was also murdered at the same time)
Perhaps another gay martyr is Lawrence King, who was shoot while he was in school on February 12, 2008. His killer, also a fellow student has been charged with murder and a hate crime. But he has remained silent as to why he did it.It’s possible he hated Larry for a different reason.