Loud-Mouthed Homophobes Have Made Gay Violence Acceptable for Too Many

As NYPD detectives proceed with some of their best investigative work and more information about the brutal bias assault in the Bronx is revealed, we can anticipate that the gory details in this case will continue to sicken us.

The atrocity has united the majority of reasonable New Yorkers to condemn the savagery allegedly perpetrated by nine cowards on three males in the Bronx. NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and local elected officials have all expressed indignation with the bias attacks.

As is typical with denunciations of these types, when we are all shown the worst of human behavior, city leaders appear to be reading from the same script. The joint censure of the repugnant act of forced sodomy can almost be anticipated, and it has to be heard by the entire planet. However, lost in their rush to voice quotable sound bites for the available cameras, mikes, recorders and reporters’ pens, is any condemnation of those among their ranks whose homophobic rants have created this climate in which venomous serpents roam the streets of this great city.

Let me point to the elephant in the room: Every individual involved in this odious crime is Latino. The vile act occurred in the poorest congressional district in the nation. All of the elected officials at the municipal, state, and federal levels representing the neighborhood where the crime was committed are Puerto Rican and Dominican.

Of these elected officials, the most vociferous anti-LGBT person in the Bronx is Rubén Díaz. The state senator has built his political career by vilifying the LGBT community at every turn.

That has been noticed by many, including Ephraim Cruz, who said, “[Díaz] has made incendiary remarks and hostile statements against gays. While he may not have physically abused people, his statements often fall on the ears of a vulnerable group like these young people, and they do have an impact.”

According to 37 year-old Cruz, who was born and raised in The Bronx, where he still resides, Díaz has been obsessive and offensive about his opposition to same-sex marriage for years. He has relished in his degradation of those who seek equal status under the law. “Senator Díaz can’t address the problems he’s helped to stoke,” says Cruz.

And yet, no critics have made the connection between the crime and the terrain, which has been poisoned against gays for so long by Rubén Díaz.

The failure to connect the dots — whether intentional or not — irked Cruz even more when he read the following statement from Senator Díaz’ son, who just happens to be Borough President of the Bronx: "Bronxites will not tolerate any form of bigotry in our borough, and we stand together as 1.4 million residents to condemn these actions and to oppose hatred in all its forms.”

Cruz took exception with that and said, “The Reverend/Senator verbally bashes gays and the son says nothing to him, but when gays are physically bashed, [Ruben Diaz, Jr.] acts like no one has been paying attention and calls the physical perpetrators names,” Cruz said.

Cruz, who is Co-Founder of Bronx for Change, goes on to tell Borough President Díaz, “The biggest bigot in the Bronx is your father.”

Given Senator Díaz’ obsessive opposition to same-sex marriage and his unrelenting homophobic antics, one has to wonder why Andrew Cuomo and his campaign spokespersons have not criticized the fellow Democrat — who, in addition to his homophobic stance, was also a key member of the ‘Amigos’ foursome that led to so much disarray in Albany.

On Sunday, Cuomo’s campaign was quick to issue a statement condemning Carl Paladino’s criticism of Cuomo's meeting with rabbis in Brooklyn. Paladino’s anti-gay declaration was read from written remarks and his hosts applauded them. Senator Díaz thus far has never needed prepared statements in order to make his outrageous gay verbal bashes. But on this issue, we haven’t heard a word of criticism from the presumptive next Governor.

Most people know that violence usually progresses from verbal abuse to physical abuse. We have no evidence of a direct connection between those accused of the crime and the biggest loudmouth homophobe in the state. However, it's probably more than a coincidence that Rubén Díaz’ hateful diatribes found a fertile place in the mushy brains of these cowards in the Bronx.

Gerson Borrero is a columnist for El Diario La Prensa and blogs at borreroreport.com.