Friday, May 3, 2013

Attempted Suicide By Gay 16-Year-Old Adam Roberts Underlines Continuing Bullying Crisis, Autopsy Results Confirm Gay Mississippi Mayoral Candidate Marco McMillian Died Of Asphyxiation, Seattle Man Attacked After Group Yells Anti-Gay Slurs, Cleveland Councillor Joe Cimperman Calls For Murder Of Transgender Female Cemia Dove To Be Classified Hate Crime, Smith College Transgender Advocates Deliver Petition Seeking Revision Of Admission Policies, Gay Hollyoaks Hotness Kieron Richardson

In New Brunswick, a gay teen hospitalized after a suicide attempt is speaking about being bullied to the point of no return. Adam Roberts says things got so bad he didn’t want to live anymore. “I think the words that they say to me are worse than the physical aspects of this," says the 16-year-old Salisbury boy. “It just makes me feel so worthless and unsafe.” Roberts has been hospitalized for five weeks for observation and treatment. “Fear; Paralyzing fear that he’s not going to make it,” says his mother, Melanie Campbell. Child psychologist Charles Emmrys says schools can be a part of the solution. “I think the school has to communicate a very strong message of gay acceptance,” says Emmrys. “If they can, they should be highlighting role models in the community.” The Anglophone East School District says bullying is being taken seriously, with support from the province and individual schools. “We have teacher committees at those schools, we have student committees at those schools,” says Superintendent Gregg Ingersoll. “We have a district level committee that oversees that work and does the training for all of our staff members.” Sebastien Bezeau, an advocate for the LGBT community, says, “He (Roberts) is seeking help, but there simply is no help for him at the present time. This is a crisis in itself and our elected officials are the ones who need to stand up to this.” Campbell says other parents have an important role to play too. “I think kids live what they learn and I think they model and they role what’s going on in the house,” she says. Roberts recently wrote an open letter describing what he is going through, and a Facebook page has been set up with people from across the country sharing their stories. Roberts says despite the outpouring of support he has felt this week, he still struggles to see a positive future. He says he is hopeful, however, that the therapy he is receiving will help him improve his self-image. “It will get better eventually, but what scares me is the eventually part. How much more do I have to go through in order to get better?”

In Mississippi, Marco McMillian, the Clarksdale mayoral candidate who was found murdered near the Mississippi River levee in February, died of asphyxiation, according to the autopsy report released Friday by the Coahoma County Coroner’s office. The autopsy was performed on McMillian on February 28, a day after he was found dead by law enforcement officers on the edge of the woods near the levee on Highwater Road in Coahoma County. He was found naked, lying on his back with his feet and hands covered with brown paper bags, according to the autopsy report. “The 33-year-old male identified as Marco McMillian died as a result of asphyxia of undetermined etiology, and the manner of death is homicide,” stated the report signed by Dr. Mark LeVaughn, the chief medical examiner with the Mississippi Medical Examiner’s office in Jackson. According to the autopsy report, there were burns on McMillian’s face, legs, neck, back and calves, and trauma to the head consistent with a beating. LeVaughn wrote that it could not be determined if the burns to McMillian’s body occurred before or after death. LeVaughn also reported scratches on McMillian’s face and arm, and abrasions on his knees that indicated a “drag type injury.” Few details concerning how McMillian died had been provided by authorities before Friday’s release of the autopsy report, although McMillian’s family said earlier in a statement that they were told that he was beaten, dragged and set on fire. Police charged 22-year-old Lawrence Reed of Shelby, Mississippi, with McMillian’s murder. Coahoma County sheriff’s officials said Reed was driving McMillian’s sport utility vehicle on Feb. 25 when it was involved in a crash near the Coahoma/Tallahatchie County line. McMillian was not in the SUV, and was reported missing after the accident. According to the autopsy report, Reed, while recovering from his car crash injuries at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, admitted to authorities that he killed McMillian and dumped his body near the levee. Reed remains in the Coahoma County jail without bond, and his case is expected to go to the grand jury soon. McMillian’s murder drew national attention because he is believed to be one of the first openly gay candidates to run for office in Mississippi. A native of Clarksdale, McMillian announced his candidacy for mayor in January. He said he entered the race because he wanted to combat crime and bring economic development to the city of 17,000 people. A graduate of Jackson State University, McMillian was CEO of MWM & Associates, a professional consultating firm for non-profit organizations. He was former international executive director of his fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma. “We are happy that the report has been released because it shows what we have been saying, and that is Marco was brutally murdered,” said Carter Womack, McMillian’s godfather and a spokesman for the family. “We are still calling for the FBI investigation to ensure justice will be served.” In March, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., asked the FBI to “review the circumstances and evidence” in the slaying of McMillian. Thompson, whose daughter attended college with McMillian, said he had known McMillian for years.

In Washington State, a man was attacked late Tuesday in Capitol Hill after he walked past a group of men who yelled homophobic remarks at him and expressed their distaste for same sex marriage, according to the Seattle Police Department. According to the police report for the incident, the victim was walking home around 10:00 pm next to Cal Anderson Park when he passed a group of five men standing around a white Monte Carlo in a nearby parking lot. As the victim passed, the men lobbed derogatory sexual slurs at him and said they were upset Referendum 74 passed, according to the report. The victim told officers he ignored the men and put in his headphones. Thirty seconds later, somebody pushed him from behind, and he landed on his head. The last thing the victim remembers before losing consciousness is someone holding him down, according to the report. When the victim came to, he was bleeding on the sidewalk. He called for help and was taken to the hospital with cuts and scrapes to his face and knee. He told officers he didn't see who attacked him, and it is unknown if the attackers were the same men from the parking lot. The victim was unable to provide a description of the men in the parking lot.

In Ohio, Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman said the murder of a transgender woman whose body was found in a pond should be treated as a hate crime. Dive teams retrieved the badly decomposed remains of Cemia Dove, or her given name Carl Acoff Jr., in a pond near MacKenzie Road in Olmsted Township on April 17. There was a concrete block and steel pipe tied to the 20-year-old’s half-naked remains, Olmsted Township police said. “Cemia lived a trouble life of acceptance,” said Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman in a news release on Wednesday. “While Cemia struggled, she did not deserve to die as what is likely a hate crime. Too often we lose loved ones because of fear or hate. Violence should not be tolerated against anyone regardless of race, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.” Dove was reported missing on March 27. Olmsted Township police have not released any details about possible suspects or a motive. "The violent death of this young woman is unconscionable and needs to be addressed,” said Jacob Nash, Cleveland Transgender Community Outreach Committee Chair. “This is the third transgender woman of color murdered in April in the U.S. alone and this needs to stop.”

Smith College transgender rights activists said Thursday they were encouraged that college administrators have agreed to continue meeting with them around the issue of admitting transgender women to the female-only school. Members of Smith Q&A spoke after five of them delivered more than 4,000 signatures seeking admissions policies that are welcoming and supportive of transgender women to Debra Shaver, the college’s admissions director. Smith Q&A is a campus group focusing on raising awareness about transgender issues at Smith. “They are taking steps to be more accommodating,” Ollie J. Schwartz, a 22-year-old Smith senior and member of the organization, said of the administration. She and other students said the college has agreed to disregard the gender box on applicants’ Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, something that could pave the way for Calliope Wong, a Connecticut transgender high school senior, to reapply to Smith. Students started the petition drive through in reaction to the college’s rejection of the application of Wong, a transgender woman. In rejecting Wong, Smith cited the fact that Wong had checked "male" on her FAFSA form, which is near-universally used by colleges in assessing eligibility for loans and needs-based awards. When the issue became public, the college’s media relations director, Kristen Cole, issue a statement to The Republican focusing on inconsistencies in Wong's application materials. “It is important to note that an application from a transgender student is treated no differently from other applicants,” Cole stated. “Every application Smith receives is considered on a case-by-case basis. As a women’s college, Smith expects that all of the materials reflect an applicant’s status as a woman.” “This is an evolving issue,” Shaver said Thursday in accepting two boxes of paperwork with signatures on the steps of the Smith Admissions Office. “We want to be supportive of transgender women.” Shaver said the college has started a dialogue with the students that will continue in September. Sarah B. Fraas, a 19-year-old Smith freshman, said the situation initially caused her to become disillusioned, but she feels better now that administrators are meeting with students. She and Emily L. Coffin, an 18-year-old freshman, were among students who met with administrators Wednesday. Coffin said administrators had been worried that accepting a transgender woman would jeopardize the college’s legal and traditional status as a women’s college and might force it to admit men. Coffin said administrators learned from their lawyers that that would not be the case. “Coeducation is not going to be an issue. Smith will not be co-ed ever,” Coffin said. “It does not threaten Smith’s status as a women’s college. In an e-mail to the Republican, Cole stated, “I think it’s wonderful that people are expressing their opinions. This is a complex and evolving issue on which people of good intent, at Smith and other places, hold a range of views. The petition is part of the larger, ongoing conversation in which Smith is involved. The Dean of the College has been meeting recently with a student diversity group about gender identity and gender expression at Smith.” Cole went on to state that the Resource Center for Sexuality & Gender along with the Student Government Association co-sponsored a discussion between students and representatives of the offices of admission and student life on the topic.

In the United Kingdom, sexist male nominee Kieron Richardson wants to win The British Soap Awards gong for every gym hater and fast food lover. The actor, who plays Ste Hay in Hollyoaks, admitted he was "shocked" to make the shortlist in one of six categories chosen by fans. Kieron, 27, is among five soap stars up for the gong at this year’s ceremony but faces some stiff competition from co-star Danny Mac. He said: "It’s a bit of a laugh but being competitive I want Hollyoaks to win as many awards as possible. There are two people from Hollyoaks up for the same award, so that will split the vote – people who love Danny will vote for him and people who love me will vote for me, whereas Corrie fans will vote for their own. I love Danny to bits. He’s better looking than me. But I’ve got good cheekbones and an all-right face. I’m doing it for all the people who hate going to the gym and love eating crisps, burgers and kebabs, and also for gay people." Kieron, who announced he was gay live on national television in 2010, has dominated the action in Hollyoaks for the best part of two years. The former Dancing On Ice star was involved in a huge gay domestic abuse storyline with Emmett Scanlan. They recently picked up the Forbidden Lovers’ prize at the All About Soap Awards for their portrayal of Ste and Brendan Brady’s intense relationship. The pair is now in the running for best on-screen partnership, voted for by a panel, at The British Soap Awards 2013 later this month. Kieron said that, "I’ve got to do so many things in Hollyoaks, from comedy to domestic abuse storylines twice. It’s been really testing but the great thing about working with people like Emmett is I’ve learned so much. And I’ve never seen anything like the gay domestic abuse storyline on TV before. It was massive with the audience. It is incredible to be nominated but we’re going to have a Hollyoaks party even if we don’t win. We’ve already won because of the reaction from the fans." The Liverpool-filmed drama is nominated in all six of the viewer-voted categories – sexiest female, sexiest male, villain of the year, best actor, best actress and best soap. Hollyoaks will compete against Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Doctors for best soap.

1 comment:

Bishop Wilkowski said...

One of the major failures of our national educational system is that it refuses to address the issue of bullying on their campuses and also its refusal to teach acceptance and tolerance of all.