On March 27, 2012, I wrote a story on the week-long wave of street attacks on gay men and trans women during the week of Sunday, March 11 through Sunday, March 18. Throughout this eight-day period, eight hate crimes victims (7 gay men, 1 trans woman) were attacked on the street in three states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia.
Donny Gocha, a 20-year-old Colorado State University student, was attacked by 3 CSU football players on April 6.
Since writing that blog, five more brutal LGBT hate crimes have occurred on streets across the Midwest and Canada, including two murders in Chicago and Canada. Despite the similarity in the attacks, the escalating crimes and the growing urgency for better coverage, the media has remained silent about this new epidemic of street-side attacks. Below is a list of the attacks since March 19:
March 24 (Oxford, Ohio): Two gay students from the University of Cincinnati and Miami University were attacked by four men while they walked down the street holding hands. Both students reported that gay slurs were yelled during the attack. Injuries included black eyes and 5 to 6 blows to the body.
April 6 (Fort Collins, Colorado): Four gay students at Colorado State University, including 19-year-old John Haley and 20-year-old Donny Gocha, were attacked while walking on the street by three CSU football players, who beat them severely while yelling gay slurs. Injuries included combinations of black eyes, broken noses and teeth, and lacerated lips. All three CSU football players have been suspended.
April 16 (Chicago, Illinois): A trans woman, Paige Clay, was found murdered with a single gun-shot wound to the head. Reports indicate that she was murdered the previous night and left for dead outside a stranger's backyard near West Garfield Park.
April 17 (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada): Gay activist Raymond Taavel was beaten to death outside a gay bar and left on the street. The suspect in custody is a schizophrenic patient with a history of violence. Gay slurs were heard during the attack.
April 21 (Normal, Illinois): A gay Illinois State University student, Eric Unger, was brutally attacked by five to eight men as he walked home. Unger's injuries included a broken jaw and teeth, and gay slurs were reported.
In the six weeks between Sunday, March, 11 and Sunday, April 22, a total of 11 hate crimes were reported in the District of Columbia, Canada and seven U.S. states, including the Midwest, East Coast and West Coast regions. This list only includes hate crimes that took place on a public street, and cases in which victims did not know their attacker(s). The most recent hate crime spree suggests that the Midwest is the most susceptible, and that college campuses are particularly unsafe (three of the last five attacks occurred on college campuses, and six of the last nine victims were college students).
Regardless of the size of the town (from small-town Normal, Illinois to bustling Washington D.C.) and the type of street (rural or urban), one attack on gay men (or trans women) is occurring every 3.5 days in the U.S. and Canada. If these crimes were racially or religiously motivated, would the media react with a 24-hour news frenzy?
For these crimes to get the attention they deserve, the media must step up and begin reporting on these crimes as an epidemic, and not as individual hate crimes. When a gay man and a trans woman are murdered within 24 hours of each other in two different countries (Raymond Taavel in Canada and Paige Clay in the U.S.), and three attacks occur on Midwest college campuses within one month, it is hard to not see an epidemic.