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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Four Arrested in NYC Beating of Kevin Aviance

So, it goes without saying that hate crimes are morally repugnant and tragic evidence of our country's race/sexuality/class/gender tensions. Hate crime laws typically cover many of these categories - generally the ones that get left out, of course, are sexuality and gender (as in, transgender).

Kevin Aviance was brutally attacked on First Avenue in NYC last week while walking home from the Pheonix. If you don't know, Kevin is a *fabulous* singer / performer whose songs have topped the dance charts various times over the past few years. I've danced my night away more than a few times to his tunes.

The news coverage about this vicious crime pegs it as homophobic. Yea, I get that. But the thing is - it has a lot to do with gender as well. And, seeing as how Aviance is black, race may very well have played into it as well. It's unclear from the coverage I've read what the races of the attackers were.

Categorizing the crime as just about homophobia is really perhaps a bit inaccurate. We can imagine that a gay man walking alone at night whose gender perfomance resembles, say, a NFL Linebacker might not face the kind of attack that Kevin did. It really has more to do with gender than it does with sexuality. Though he wasn't in drag at the time of the attack, Aviance out of drag still reads as effeminate.

This is different from Matthew Shepard's murder. It seems that his murder has a *lot* to do with the sexuality of Shepard, not as much to do with his gender performance. These are things that should be noted when examining hate crimes. There's a tendency to quickly squash all subtleties of these kinds of things and say it was singularly about race / gender / sexuality - when really it could be about all of them (or none of them!).

In any case, here's a link to coverage of the arrests:
Link to 365gay.com Article


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