I’m not sure how I missed this story, but when I read it I had a “Matthew Sheppard moment,” that is to say I had precisely the same feeling I had when first heard the news about Matthew Sheppard.
Three men have been charged in the beating of a Santa Fe gay man that was so vicious he was left unconscious.
James Maestas, 21, and his partner Joshua Stockham 24, of Albuquerque had just finished lunch with several female friends at a Santa Fe restaurant and had gone outside for a smoke when five men drove into the parking lot. The men attempted to talk up the girls and at some point got into an argument with Maestas and Stockham.
A police statement says that the argument escalated with one of the men calling Maestas and Stockham “faggots” and trying to provoke a fight.
…Three of the men were arrested based on witnesses accounts.
Maestas remains in hospital in serious condition. His family is so concerned for his safety police will not identify the hospital.
Maestas apparently was kicked so hard the food in his stomach came up his throat and went into his lungs, Rosen said. Stomach acid badly burned his lungs, she said, and he is breathing with the help of a respirator.
He has been running a fever and must be monitored closely, because the risk of infection is high, Rosen said.
Maestas’ face and mouth are bruised and swollen, she said. “They haven’t even been able to see if he has all his lower teeth because his lower lip is so mangled.”
While a brain scan didn’t reveal any damage, she said, it’s too early to tell for sure. Maestas has not regained consciousness, and doctors are keeping him sedated, she said.
Doctors don’t know whether he will suffer permanent damage from the attack if he pulls through, Rosen said.
Another life forever altered by hatred; pure, unadulterated hatred. And who do we hold responsible. The men who kicked and beat Maestas into unconsciousness and left his on a respirator? Of course. Surely they are responsible for their actions, and ought to pay for them to the full extent of the law. But is Maestas’ blood on their hands alone?
I don’t think so. I can’t help thinking that the Fred Phelpses, the Jerry Fallwells, the Pat Robertsons, the Phyllis Schalflys, the Alan Keyeses, and the George W. Bushes of the world bear some of the blame here too. They may not have punched, kicked and stoned Maestas themselves, but certainly played a role in putting into the hearts of the men who did the hatred and bigotry that inspired their actions. I’d say the same of anyone who perpetuates the idea that we are less than fully human and don’t deserve to be treated as such, and that our lives—our living and loving—don’t matter. I’d say the same of anyone who advocates for discrimniation against us and our families.
I have any number of feelings upon hearing news like this. First is fear; fear that it could have been my family, myself, or someone that I care about in the same position as Maestas. It’s a bit like wearing a ring, fear is. You get used to it after a while, but you always know it’s there; I’m used to feeling afraid for my family—my husband and son—and myself. Then there’s anger; anger because I know that afraid is exactly what people like those I just mentioned want me to feel, because if I’m afraid enough I won’t get out of line.
I’m sad; sad for Maestas, his partner, and his family; for anyone, really, who’s in a similar situation. I’m even sad for the men who beat Maestas, and even for people like the ones I mentioned earler, because I know they can’t do what they do and believe what they believe without sacrificing some of their humanity in the bargain, whether they know it or not.
Most of all, it makes me tired; tired of living in a world where people do this kind of thing to someone just because of who he is and who he loves; tired of trying to change it into some other kind of world. Just plain tired.
That’s where I am right now. Afraid, angry, sad, and tired.