Release Date: September 23, 2011
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 American Portraiture."
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