|The vigil for the shooting victims. Photo: Regina Minniss|
The high-profile incident called into action these men’s families, friends and neighbors to protest the wanton violence that grips Baltimore and that is seeping into the once tranquil Mount Vernon-Belvedere neighborhood.Ulrich, who was killed in the attack at the age of 40, had not been living in Baltimore long, but while he did, he amassed many new friends. Peterson already has tons of friends including city councilman William Cole who respect his leadership in the neighborhood and love him as a human being. As of this writing, he remains in critical condition following several surgeries.
The show of unity in the shadow of the Washington Monument was not only to grieve the loss of one of the community’s members and to pull for the other’s recovery. It was also intended to stop the epidemic of violence. The motive for the shooting has not been identified, nor have the two suspects been apprehended. Some speculate it was a hate crime because the victims may have been perceived as gay. Others theorized it was a robbery gone wrong. Still others maintain it was random or a response to an earlier incident that evening. When Mr. Peterson recovers, perhaps he can shed light on the case.Unfortunately, demonstrations of unity are frequently born out of violence. We have seen people coming together following homicides committed against transgender people. We have witnessed the large vigil outside a Rosedale McDonald’s in the wake of the famous Chrissy Lee Polis beating. We have observed a huge crowd marching then assembling outside City Hall following the Trayvon Martin killing. This was yet another example.
We can be unified without being single-minded. The LGBT community is a disparate one—a tiny sliver of the general population, a microcosm of society. We are comprised of all ages, races, political and religious beliefs, economic components, etc. Clearly, we all don’t think alike and have different goals in life, and that’s a good thing. As such, there are few issues that could unite us besides violence, like equality and HIV.Sadly, others aren’t on board with those issues. If you don’t mind being treated unequally or unfairly and relegated to second-class citizenship, don’t jump in. If you feel that your same-sex relationship doesn’t deserve the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples, sit on the sidelines. If you believe that marriage is not for you but don’t care whether or not you or your friends have that option, fine. If you believe that people should lose their jobs or not get promoted simply because they are LGBT, that’s your call.
Most of us, fortunately, do see a cause as a unifying catalyst and are willing to do something to advance it. For others, their cause is division.A noisy but small fringe of the LGBT community takes pleasure in pitting one against another—whether it is by race or gender or gender identity. They go out of their way to drive wedges within the community not because it would do some good, prevent the scourge of violence, or improve society but merely to satisfy themselves. They use blogs and social media as their platform to register their disdain for certain demographic groups within the LGBT community and fill it up with irrational negativity. For what purpose?
The best advice is not to engage them in a public discussion; they are not sufficiently open-minded to listen to alternative viewpoints. Instead, they resort to forms of cyber bullying to inflate their egos. Ignoring their shrill repetitive rants, no matter how tempting it is to argue, starves them from the attention they insatiably crave and minimizes their influence.As T.H. White wrote in The Once and Future King: “The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees.”
We have plenty of external enemies trying to block progress and we don’t need to fight among ourselves. Get behind and fight for a positive cause and ignore the divisive noise. Perhaps, some good will come of it.