BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jamey Rodemeyer, the gay 14-year-old suburban
Buffalo teen who committed suicide this week is the victim of a
hate crime, says Jonathan Katz of the University at Buffalo, a
longtime gay rights activist and author.
Katz says, "To refer to him as a victim of 'bullying' in this
case soft pedals the aggressive homophobia that is the root issue.
This young boy was taunted and bullied because of his sexual
orientation and that, by definition, is a hate crime.
"We don't refer to racism or sexism as 'bullying,'" he says, "we
call them by their names to acknowledge the social pathology we are
trying to eliminate."
"In this case, too, we must name this form of
discrimination, because with each incremental advance in GLBTQ
rights, the most vulnerable people in our community -- our children
-- are being targeted."
According to Katz, adults who perpetuate bigotry share in the
blame: "Our children are being told by some authority figures that
same-sex desire is sinful and that queer people aren't even worthy
of life, much less respect."
Katz, an associate professor of visual studies at UB is an art
historian, educator and writer who works at the intersection of art
history and queer history. The former executive coordinator of the
Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies at Yale
University, he co-curated the celebrated 2010 Smithsonian
Institution exhibition "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in