Horrific In-Home Murder Calls for Justice - & Caution

by Vince Pellegrino
Saturday Mar 10, 2012

A gay in New York's Chelsea neighborhood's horrific murder hit me personally: This man just happened to be someone I knew, primarily due to his habit of perching his pet cockatoo on his shoulder as he walked and socialized with both neighbors and curious onlookers like me in this well-known -- and generally safe -- gayborhood.

My heart goes out to this man's loved ones. He was well liked in his neighborhood for his friendliness and charitable works: He prepared the sacraments for the Sunday service at a local Episcopal Church, among other good deeds.

Unfortunately, his murder points up a disturbing fact of life: Despite all the wonderful momentum for change in the GLBT community, there is still no way to protect gay men from harm or death from potential sex partners with dangerous intentions in mind rather than just having fun.

According to a story here, the victim was found with duct tape across his mouth, his hands bound and a towel draped over his head. He was apparently wearing only a white T-shirt. He had an electrical cord lashed around his wrists when found by his concerned neighbor and best friend.

Hearing those details brings back to the horrific images of the death that begins the 1970s movie "Cruising" starring Al Pacino. Pacino plays a cop who goes undercover in New York's underground gay sex scene to catch an apparent serial killer. There's another '70s film, "Looking for Mister Goodbar," in which Diane Keaton is brutally murdered by a man she picks up.

This most recent murder would appear to resemble another in-home murder, of a New York City newsman. In 2009, he answered a Craigslist advertisement for gay sex posted by a sixteen-year-old who was later convicted of stabbing him more than fifty times.

My next question goes to the New York City Police Department: How soon will his killer be brought to justice for his crime? The police department has clearly demonstrated an increased concern for gay victims of violence. So I'm hopeful that justice will be served eventually.

Just the same, whenever I hear of a murder of a gay man, I still have a flashback to the bad old days when police downplayed or, worse, ignored such crimes in the belief that the victim "deserved" it. Thankfully, I have no such negative thoughts at present.

I work alongside many wonderful police officers at the 911 Memorial where I am a visitor host. These men and women demonstrate both dedication and humanity daily in their interactions with the public.

So as I am saddened by the death of this kind and generous man who just happened to be gay, I myself will endeavor to be more vigilant with regard to whomever I meet and decide to take to my home. I hope all of you exercise the same caution.

Dr. Vince Pellegrino has PhDs in educational theater and drama therapy from New York University and is a board-certified psychotherapist in New York City and Connecticut. He teaches communications at Hofstra University. He is currently working on a book, "Gay Communication Game," about "Gayspeak"; an interactive TV program featuring real-time therapy sessions in development. Go to Dr. Vince TV for more information.


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