Guest Blogger

Another Quiet Day in the LGBT Community and Mainstream Media

Filed By Guest Blogger | November 17, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Media
Tags: decapitation, hate crimes against LGBT people, Jorge Mercado, Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, Puerto Rico

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Robert Olivarez is Los Angeles area Latino gay grass roots activist. He loves his community and works to do his part to make sure that Latinos and the LGBTQ community work together and for each other so that we all may enjoy equality and fight discrimination.

Not even the darkest nightmare from the depths of fear and despair could bring me to imagine being tortured and murdered, my body burnt, decapitated and my arms and legs dismembered. A crime of hate it would be, yes, but it goes beyond that. It would be a vile and evil act of rage and it would mean a monster lived among us.

If it happened to a US citizen, surely the US mainstream media would be reporting live from the scene. Surely they would bring the word to us. 6a00d8341c730253ef0120a6a6588c970b-150wi.jpgWe depend on the media. We support them through subscriptions or the advertising on their pages. In turn they maintain reporters, bureaus and services that would bring us news. Right? And there would be outrage and calls to action if such a crime happened. Right?

And if it was a hate crime, and if it was a crime against a gay American, surely there would be higher level of outcry led by our mainstream LGBTQ organizations and leaders.

So why hasn't there been outrage over Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado's brutal murder?

Just another Latino name. But Jorge was also a United States citizen as he lived in Puerto Rico. He was 19 years old and he was gay. On Saturday November 14th, Jorge was found murdered. Jorge was brutally murdered: he was burnt, both arms and both legs were dismembered and he was decapitated.

I awoke to a Facebook posting by a friend to the news of Jorge's murder.

Jorge had family. Jorge had friends. Jorge was well-loved in the LGBTQ community. Jorge was a gay Latino teen. He was one of us.

He Had It Coming, He Was Gay

The principal investigator in Jorge's death was quoted as saying: "people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen."

Where is the outrage. Where is the outcry?

Was the Facebook post shared with me a mainstream news media report? Was it a press release from Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Human Rights Campaign, or maybe the LA Gay & Lesbian Center had sent out a press release in the early morning hours? Any of these organizations can send out a press release in seconds that reaches the desk of every major news outlet in the country both mainstream and LGBTQ.

The report was a posting on www.365gay.com. The LGBTQ media had picked up on an CNN iReport posted by a local man from Puerto Rico asking for help from the media to report this and ensure that the hate crime is properly handled.

In The Darkness of Silence

There is no outcry. No word from our nation's leaders in the White House or the Justice Department that this will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. As of this writing still not one word in mainstream media reports. hate_crime_1_.jpgNot one peep from our LGBTQ leaders. Most everyone is abuzz with the news that the 2010 signature gathering campaign has begun. Big news, but should it be overshadowing this? If Jorge was Jeff...

I see many Latino friends posting the same story and also posting feelings of sadness. We want to do something. But we don't have the resources that the LA Gay & Lesbian Center or the Los Angeles branch of the Human Rights Campaign would have in securing a location and bringing together local and national press. The press coverage is what is needed to bring a sense of urgent justice and purpose to this pathetic investigation into Jorge's murder by a sick and evil person or group of people. And let us not give free passage to the Latino LGBTQ groups that have emerged in the past year. These Latino LGBTQ leaders strive to be the voice of the Latino LGBTQ community - I would say Jorge needs a voice just about now!

I expect our LGBTQ leaders here in Los Angeles, and in cities throughout this country to speak out now. To speak our loud and clear just as if Jorge was Jeff... because as an American, gay Latino teenager, he was one of ours and he deserves better!

We do not just want to mourn Jorge's death. Our higher purpose is to bring light to his life. We need to bring a face to Jorge and give him a voice. If the light of justice and knowledge of this brutal and vicious crime of hate is shined on this, a monster will be bought to justice, and Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado will rest in dignity and love.

Action

Email or call your local LGBTQ center's, PAC's, alliances, organizations and leaders. Demand from them action now in giving a face and a voice to Jorge. Email or call your local newspapers and ask them to cover this. And please post here if any local actions, vigils or press conferences are announced.


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Robert, I do think that every major GLBT blog is now covering this story. And I have read quite a bit of outrage at the comments of the police investigator.

However, I do not hear "our major organizations" saying a word about this. These same organizations were mighty quick to speak up about Matthew Sheperd, though.

@Chitown Kev, yes the LGBTQ media and bloggers have been a wonderful source of news on this. And their certainly has been outrage and despair from our community.

Our LGBTQ community "leaders" and organizations, and the mainstream English media - not one word...

This is a horrific story. I didn't hear anything about this until late last night. This is terrible. Hopefully your focus will generate a significant amount of attention for this. Thanks for sharing with us!

UPDATES ON THE STORY:

Late last night/early this morning I was reviewing the news and there was a Spanish media report that

1) The FBI is now monitoring the investigation

2) The principal investigator has been removed
and his actual quote was worse:
"Este tipo de personas cuando se meten a esto y salen a la calle saben que esto les puede pasar."

"These type of of people that get into this and go out in to the street know that this can happen."

3) As of late last night, a suspect was identified. The Spanish story indicated that the suspect may have been known by Jorge's friends and that he may have offered Jorge money for sex. As of this morning LGBTQ blogs and Spanish media indicate a suspect has been arrested. Some report his age to be 26 or 28.

More updates will be posted as they become available...

Fox News is the first major news outlet to post the story from an AP news wire...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,575394,00.html

Faux News? Well we have to give them props for at least breaking the ice. And so far they have done so without sensational reports of the victim or to minimize the horror of this crime.

It is my hope that GLAAD will begin monitoring the media to ensure the reports remain clean.

Still no word from our "leaders."

http://www.primerahora.com/diario/noticia/policia/noticias/arrestan_sospechoso_de_aparente_crimen_de_odio_por_homofobia/344803

Spanish media reports from Puerto Rico indicate that the Police leadership have defended the investigator's right to make homophobic comments and/or have stated that his comments were taken out of context.

There are also indications Puerto Rico has never prosecuted an sexual orientation hate crime before.

Thanks, I have been wanting more info on this since I got an email about it early this morning.

Frequently in A & U Magazine, and also in Bilerico recently, I've written about the horrible problems facing people with HIV/AIDS in Puerto Rico -- problems that PR activists like Jose Colon and Anselmo Fonseca and their organization Pacientes de SIDA pro Politica Sana have been fighting.

Due to lack of U.S. government oversight, the corruption, fraud and misspending around AIDS funding and the quality of AIDS services are much worse than in the U.S. Probably thousands of Puerto Ricans have died because they couldn't get services or drugs. It took almost superhuman efforts by PSPS to get some of these crimes prosecuted by the feds --and even then, the U.S. media paid little attention.

So why is anybody surprised that the horrible hate crime against this Puerto Rican gay teen has been mostly ignored on the mainland? The fact is, not many Americans give a hell what happens in Puerto Rico.

And that includes quite a few LGBT Americans and many in the LGBT media, who have paid little attention to the ongoing crimes against people with HIV/AIDS in PR because it embarrasses them to admit that the AIDS establishment could be anything less than perfect and 100 percent humanitarian.

Robert Olivarez is right -- if our leaders don't speak up now, we can't call ourselves a "community." But there needs to be a broader, deeper awakening as well, so that U.S. government and U.S. citizens resonate to Puerto Rican needs, events and trends in the same way that they resonate to happenings here on the mainland.

This event has definitely opened MY eyes.