For a Moment in Lowell, Equality Near Disfigurement

June 7, 2007 at 5:05 pm | Posted in America, Lowell | 4 Comments

Since same-sex marriage was legalized here in Massachusetts, there’s been no perceptible change in the Average Joe’s lifestyle.  The skies have not fallen, and the institution of marriage remains firmly intact.  Or at least as intact as it was before.

Still, it’s weird – in a good way – to live in the only state where the gayz can formalize and affirm their love and commitment just like the rest of us.  You feel kind of cool.  Enlightened.  As a resident of the state, it’s something I’m proud of, even though I had nothing to do with it.

When I hear about gay rights issues in other states, I roll my eyes and laugh.  The rest of you folks are so behind the times.  Just get over it already.  This mindset leads to a false sense that citizens of our blue state utopia are above violent, blatant displays of homophobia.  And obviously, as we were reminded this week, that is not the case.

Early Saturday morning, within a mile from our front door, James Nickola, 22, a gay man who calls Lowell home, was attacked by three 19-year-olds who allegedly pummelled him while yelling “faggot” and “we don’t want you in this neighborhood.”  I first heard of the attack on the television, and knew it went beyond a run-of-the-mill beatdown when the TV anchor reported police saying the man was “beaten near disfigurement.”  I’d never heard that phrase from police before.

It turns out that Nickola was left to drag himself to a police station, with his bottom lip hanging from his face.  (It would later be stitched back on.)  The three men – though is this the act of anyone you could call a man – pleaded innocent to charges of simple assault and battery, a civil-rights violation, and mayhem.  (Mayhem?)  Two of them have prior records.  Nontheless, they were released from jail Monday without even having to post bail.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I’d never been punched in the face.  But I’ve never punched anyone in the face either.  It’s tough for me to imagine what it would feel like to do that.  And impossible for me to imagine beating someone mercilessly to the point of “near disfigurement.”  And for what?  For being born liking dudes.

Those who believe people choose to be gay seem just as out of touch to me as people who deny evolution.  Why in the world would anyone choose to enlist in the most universally loathed minority?  Is the allure of the cock so strong that you would willingly endure a life of scorn or worse?

I’m not publishing the attackers’ names here, simply because they haven’t been convicted yet and I may not return to this subject.  Their names aren’t that important anyway.  The point is this madness continues, even in the state where so much progress has been made.  I will mention a couple names though.  Everyone in this post right here.

At Tuesday’s Republican Primary Debate, not one of the ten candidates could muster any opposition to the military’s ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy.  Here is a portion of the exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Rudy Giuliani:

BLITZER:  Mayor Giuliani, recently we’ve learned that several talented, trained linguists — Arabic speakers, Farsi speakers, Urdu speakers trained by the U.S. government to learn those languages to help us in the war on terrorism — were dismissed from the military because they announced they were gays or lesbians.  Is that, in your mind, appropriate?

GIULIANI:  This is not the time to deal with disruptive issues like this.  Back in 1994 we went through this and it created a tremendous amount of disruption.  Colin Powell, I think, was still the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before he left at the beginning of the Clinton administration.  He came to the view that this was a good policy.  And I think in time of war, in a time where we’re trying to deal with this transition to a new kind of warfare that we have to be fighting — and we haven’t gotten all the way there yet, we need a hybrid army, we need to look at nation-building as part of what we have to teach our military — I don’t think this would be the right time to raise these issues.

So if you’re gay, you’re not even worthy of serving in this dumbass war.  And the military could not be more desperate; they’ll take anyone!  Unless you’re openly gay.  Then you’re a ‘disruption.’  Getting rid of some of the few invaluable linguists we have?  In the midst of war?  That is not a disruption.

Since the policy was put in place, over 11,000 service members have been dismissed.  Our closest allies, Great Britain and Israel, both allow openly gay people to serve.  So what’s the problem?

Kudos to our outgoing Congressman Marty Meehan, who’s long advocated for the repeal of this policy.  The fact that he’ll soon leave office having failed in this mission boggles the mind.

NOTE:  For Lowell-area readers, a vigil will be held at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church on the corner of Kirk and Merrimack Streets tonight (Thursday) at 7:30 p.m.  I’ve never vigiled before.  They always seem kinda creepy and sappy to me.  But I think I’ll pop my cherry tonight because this shit is fucked up.  Hope to see you there.



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  1. I’d like to bash gay bashers.

  2. I’m a little late on this, but very nice post! That was a shocking thing to happen here in Lowell (or anywhere but it’s harder when it hits so close) but I thought the community’s response at the vigil was amazing.

  3. thanks for checking in, marianne.

    i agree that the response at the vigil was admirable. if nothing else, it was just nice to see so many people and say hi to familiar and unfamiliar faces. i could’ve done without the christian-based hymns or songs, but whatcanyado, i’ve come to expect as much. and senator pangianatianatakos – too lazy to look up the real spelling – could’ve backed up his sentiments by making a stand at the constitutional convention only days later. but again, whatcanyado.

  4. […] with the first vigil, held after a gay man was savagely beaten downtown, I didn’t know what to expect or why I was even going.  I generally recoil at such […]

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