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On Physical and Physical Violence: Race and Gender in the LGBT Community

Two horrific, excessively violent events in the last month have left communities in the Bay Area reeling: four young men gang raped a lesbian in Richmond, CA and now former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle fatally shot an African-American passenger who was laying prone on his stomach. I am particularly interested in these events as I wrote my dissertation on violence and gendered/racial trauma. My research, and own personal experiences, have lead me to conclude that such public acts of violence deeply affect the psyches of members of communities/groups who identify with the recipients of such violence.
But in truth, it is a recent debate on a local lesbian listerserv, of which I am a member, that has compelled me to address these two acts of violence in relation to each other. Recently on the listerv, one member commented that she was surprised and disappointed that, after weeks of dozens of messages each day about Proposition 8 during the election season, there had been so few comments on the list about Mehserle shooting of unarmed Oakland resident Oscar Grant. Shortly thereafter, another member posted that the police shooting "isn’t LGBT related at all."
I am not posting this to call out a particular individual, who, in all fairness, was in no way implying that the shooting is insignificant in the context of her post. Rather, I want to take this as an opportunity to begin a series ...

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