Alex Blaze

72-year-old man attacked in Detroit, and some other stuff

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 22, 2007 6:33 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Andrew Anthos, GLBT, hate crimes legislation, Michigan, queer theory

From Detroit's WDIV:

The victim, Andrew Anthos, was riding a city bus back to his residence at Detroit's Windsor Tower apartments on Feb. 13 when another male passenger asked him if he was gay, Anthos's niece, Athena Fedenis said.

Anthos was followed by the man from the bus and beaten with a pipe in front of his apartment, Fedenis said.

"It just doesn't make any sense," Magealine Hloros, the victim's aunt said. "Why do people have to hurt each other?"

Anthos is barely able to speak above a whisper and is paralyzed from the neck down. He is currently at Detroit Receiving Hospital, his family said.

The police haven't arrested anyone yet, but they're searching the area and seeking people who have information.

Of course, the report didn't disclose the victim's sexuality. That would be highly unprofessional for a news service to post that sort of information without first getting the guy's consent, and at least waiting until a more appropriate time to ask for it.

But that doesn't stop me from wondering, and, more importantly, wondering why I'm wondering. Would his sexuality have some sort of effect on my ability to empathize with him? Is the distinction between actual and perceived sexual orientation, written into anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation, one that actually gets translated into a differing ability to see someone as "like me", a perversion of the philosophy of making the political personal?

More metaphysical musings, after the jump.

Hmmm... good questions! Maybe the answer lies in the drawing of such distinctions. I mean, isn't all sexual orientation perceived on some level? Like, how do I know I'm gay unless I'm basing that notion on the predominent content of sexual fantasies and differing emotions I feel with regard to the Same Sex and the Opposite Sex. I'm still perceiving those feelings, and when I tell someone else that I'm gay, they're perceiving (hearing) what I say, making that my perceived sexuality to them. For example, someone like Ted Haggard's (I CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF HIM, I KNOW) sexuality causes slippage in such a distinction: if my actual sexuality is gay because I tell people that I'm gay, then shouldn't his actual sexuality be straight because he tells people that he's straight?

I don't mean to be queering the planet, as queer theorists would put it, calling into question the idea of monolithic sexuality. I'm going in a different direction and wondering how we know what our sexualities are, how we know the sexuality of others, what it means to be GLBT, and by extension, how we subconsciously include and exclude people who don't wear their sexuality in the same way.

Without a doubt, what happened to this man was wrong. Michigan does not have hate crimes legislation that covers sexuality, but if it did, it would probably include a phrase about "actual and perceived sexual orientation". And it is definitely a GLBT issue if it went down like it was described in the press because of the assailant's invocation of the word "gay". But the revelation of parts and aspects of one's identity can humanize, and someone whose identity includes some modicum of GLBT would be easier for me to identify with. When someone's identity includes "perceived as gay", I wonder about how easy it would be to consider someone like that "like me" considering that everyone could potentially be "perceived as gay". Maybe that leads to the best conclusion - a comradery with all people because of such potential perception.

Or I could just be like a friend of mine and think that everyone's either gay or lying.

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