06-Aug-2008

Michael Causer

“Michael Causer, of Whiston, died on Saturday, a little more than a week after being attacked. The 18-year-old was walking past a quiet cul-de-sac on Tarbock Road, on the morning of Friday, July 25, when he was badly beaten. Doctors at Liverpool’s Walton Neurology Centre performed emergency surgery in an attempt to stem the swelling on his brain. But police confirmed he died at 12.30pm on August 2nd. Detectives have described the incident as a “homophobic hate crime”.

This story acutely demonstrates the persistence and severity of cultural homophobia still present today. I noticed when discussing Michael Causer’s attack, that my friends and colleagues had not heard about it, somehow this violence had slipped under the radar of the mainstream news media. Of course gay websites and blogs and a formidable presence on Facebook has spread the word through existing networks and the local printed media has kept up to date with the developing story (at least on-line) and this is to be acknowledged.

Though despite the close proximity of Michael Causer’s murder to the stabbing of Anthony Walker, the mainstream news providers have not seen fit to give Michael Causer’s story similar coverage, the potential for local and national debate is obvious and has somehow been overlooked. In some preliminary on-line research on this media oversight I came across several other stories regarding severe homophobic attacks across the world that have occurred this year.

Stephen Scott

Leann Boswell

Eudy Simelane

Abdulrahman and Munye

Attack in Hartlepool

I am reluctant to say that the main stream media is guilty of homophobia though this discrepancy seems more than coincidental. This persistent omission could be read in a variety of ways; is homophobia so uninteresting to the heteronormative mass that attacks on gay people are not worthy of column inches? Is gayness still seen as a lifestyle ‘choice’ so homophobically motivated attacks are considered a consequence of these choices that lie outside of the ‘norm’? Whatever the reason the result is that as a culture we see that some level of homophobia is acceptable, tragically it is only when the worst cases shock us that our shackles are raised. I believe that all homophobia is deeply offensive; it is a terrible tragedy that Michael Causer has died as a result of the homophobically motivated attack though anecdotally it seems that many of us have had lucky escapes.

What has struck me throughout my work on The Pansy Project is the difference in which gay people respond to the experience of homophobia on the street, some wither, some fight, others run, though most accept it and move on. Determined not to let it ruin their lives, keen to brush it off as one of life’s inconveniences, this is admirable for those strong enough to fend off the bullying few. Though what of the people less able or willing to fend off two or three oppressors such as the Michael Causer case? What is clear to me is that homophobia is generally acceptable to one degree or another. From “That’s ‘gay’ that is!” in the classroom to a Chris Moyles jibe on the radio to vicious targeted attack on the street, every insult based in bias is utterly unacceptable.

My thoughts are with Michael Causer’s family and for all those who experience homophobia in all it’s guises from verbal attack and violent aggression to the experience of being unheard in a society indifferent to intolerance and injustice.