Archive for Murder

The Killing of Samuel Luiz: why do you straight men do this?

Posted in Biographical, Brighton, LGBT with tags , , on July 10, 2021 by telescoper

This is a picture of Samuel Luiz, a young gay man who was kicked and punched to death outside a nightclub in A Coruña, Galicia, Spain, on Saturday 3rd July 2021. At least 12 men were involved in the vicious assault and they were shouting the word maricón as they beat him. The word is a derogatory term in Spanish for a gay man, roughly equivalent to “faggot” in English. At least four men (all between the ages of 20 and 25) have been arrested for this murder. Let’s hope some justice is served. Demonstrations were held across Spain to protest Samuel’s killing.

This attack came just a few days after the end of Pride Month and if nothing else shows how far we still have to go. People sometimes ask why we still need Pride, after all we now have gay marriage? Well, Spain has gay marriage, but mobs still murder gay men. Anti-gay hate crime is reportedly on the increase in Spain and probably elsewhere. The Government of Hungary has enacted specifically homophobic legislation

There’s nothing new about this kind of homophobic violence. Queer-bashing was endemic in Brighton when I lived there in the 1980s. I know. I was on the receiving end of a beating myself. There were only four assailants in my case, and of course I didn’t die. My physical injuries were relatively superficial, but it was a life-changing experience and not in a good way. The word that was ringing in my eyes as I lapsed into unconsciousness then was “faggot”, so reading about Samuel Luiz brought it back. Sometimes things like this make me want to go and live off-grid somewhere far away from people to avoid such thoughts intruding again.

Anyway, that experience on Brighton sea front left me convinced that however much attitudes and laws change there will always be men – presumably straight – who for some reason despise gay men so much that they want to inflict violence on us. I can’t rid myself of the belief a very large number of straight men would behave in that way if they thought they would get away with it. It takes me a very long time to trust a heterosexual man enough to call him a friend.

I wish I could understand what causes so much hate. Believe me, if thought about it a lot and for a very long time and it remains incomprehensible to me. Perhaps it expresses some kind of need to assert dominance, much as misogynistic transphobic, and racist violence does? Or perhaps just a form of tribalism like football violence? The one firm conclusion I have reached is that the people who do this sort of thing are utter cowards. Why else would they need a gang to beat up one person? And the people who just look on and don’t intervene are cowards too.

In a piece a while ago I wrote about my experience in Brighton:

I have to say that for quite a long time in this period my general presumption was that a majority of heterosexual people were actively hostile to LGBT+ people, and that would always remain the case. There were quite a few gay people in Brighton who felt the same and their reaction was to become separatists. The logic was that straight people were always going to be horrible, so to hell with them. You could drink in gay bars, eat in gay restaurants, live in a gay part of the town, etc, and thereby minimize interaction with the hostile majority. This seemed an attractive lifestyle to me for some time, but I gradually began to feel that if there was ever going to be a chance of things changing for the better, LGBT+ people had to engage and form alliances. That strategy seems to have worked for the wider community, and I applaud the many straight people who have become allies.

It’s easy to say you’re an ally but are you willing to stand up and be counted?

A comment below objects to the “you” in the title of this post. I thought very carefully before including it. The response “not all straight men are like that” is unhelpful for lots of reasons.

First, I know that. All gay people do. We already know not every straight man is a murderer, or otherwise violent. We don’t need you to tell us. Second, it’s defensive. When people are defensive, they aren’t listening to the other person; they’re busy thinking of ways to defend themselves. It’s a classic social media response. Third, people saying it aren’t furthering the conversation, they’re sidetracking it. The discussion isn’t about the men who aren’t a problem. Fourth – and this the most important point – nobody can really know which straight men are “like that” and which aren’t until it’s too late.

I would genuinely love to live in a society without prejudice on the grounds of identity but we’re not there yet. I don’t think it does any harm to hold a mirror up to the kind of stereotyping that many groups have to deal with on an everyday basis. You may not like being included in a generalisation but at least you’re not put in mortal danger because of your identity. It’s not you who is a target.

Blue Murder in Glasgow

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2019 by telescoper

We have our final meeting of the Examination Board in the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University tomorrow in the presence of External Examiner who is visiting for the purpose.

For some reason thinking about this impending event reminded me of a strange encounter I had many years ago when I worked at Nottingham University and had almost forgotten about. Perhaps it’s just because it was the same time of year. Anyway, while I remember it I thought I might as well write about it here.

One day in June 2003, when I got home to my house in Beeston after work, I found that a card had been put through my letterbox. It was from Nottingham CID and bore the name of a Detective Sergeant followed by `Vice Squad’. I forget his actual name. Apparently the Officer concerned had called when I wasn’t in and left the note asking me to call back. I was a bit perturbed that it was apparently to do with something under the remit of the Vice Squad but it didn’t give any details except for a telephone number. Anyway, being a cooperative person, I phoned the number and a few days later the policeman came to my house to interview me.

It turned out to have nothing to do with the Vice Squad nor even anything to do with Nottingham. It was to do with an incident in Glasgow that had happened almost a year previously (in 2002): the policeman who interviewed me just happened to be available to run this particular errand on behalf of the Glasgow CID.

The police had traced me because I had paid a bill in a curry house in the Byres Road area of Glasgow’s West End with my credit card. I should explain that the reason I was having a meal in Glasgow that night was that at that time I was External Examiner for the undergraduate courses in Astronomy at the University of Glasgow, a task that involved staying two nights in a B&B near the University. In fact when I spoke to the Police Officer I was about to go to Glasgow again for the same purpose.

I was asked to recall my movements for the evening concerned (24th June 2002). It was almost a year previously and I couldn’t help much, but I did remember that I (along with some companions from the Department) tried to get into the curry house earlier in the evening, but it was very busy so we adjourned to a pub for a pint or two before returning and getting a table. A helpful comment below reminded me that the establishment concerned was  Ashoka in Ashton Lane, in the West End of Glasgow.

 

I could remember only two things really. One was that it was a warm sunny evening and there were lots of people outside drinking in the sunshine. The other that it was getting dark when we left Ashoka after the meal, which at that time of year would make it rather late. The Officer pointed out that my credit card had been charged after 11pm, which fits with that recollection. I had paid for my meal with the intention of claiming the cost on expenses. The food was excellent, by the way.

`Can you describe the other people in the restaurant when you were there?’ he asked me. I could barely remember who was at my table, never mind any strangers, and couldn’t think of anything useful to say at all except that it was very busy.

`What’s this all about?’, I asked the Officer.

It was then revealed to me that somebody had been murdered that night, just around the corner from where I was staying. Actually he had been left for dead in the driveway of his house with serious head injuries received in the early hours of the following morning, and died a few days later. The police strongly suspected he had eaten in the same restaurant we were in, possibly with the person or persons who killed him. The Officer showed me a picture of the victim but it didn’t ring any bells.

Because of the time that had elapsed I wasn’t able to help very much at all, though to be honest I doubt I would have been able to help if I’d been asked the day after the event. I just wasn’t paying much attention, and there wasn’t a row or anything that I might have noticed.

And that was that. Interview over. I signed a witness statement and the Officer left.  I never heard any more about it.  It was obviously a cold case then – otherwise the Police  wouldn’t have been following such tenuous leads – and it’s an even colder case now. I believe the case was featured on Crimewatch or some such, but without success.

The murder (still unsolved) was of a man called Alex Blue. According to Wikipedia:

A businessman from the city’s west end, Blue was found outside his home with head injuries. He died two days later. Blue ran a taxi business with an annual turnover of £7m. One theory is that he was the victim of a house buying scam. He told friends he was in the process of buying a new house and planned to view it the day after he was attacked. It was later discovered the home had never been on the market. Although nobody has been charged with the murder, Blue’s mother and brother are convinced they know who murdered him. His brother said: “I know who was behind this but they got someone else to carry out their dirty work for them.”

It’s very unlikely now that whoever killed him will ever be brought to justice.