Ryan Cran, who murdered Aaron Webster is out of prison after four years.
On 17 November, 2001 19 year old Cran and a group of youths beat Webster to death with bats and golf clubs because he was gay. A judge involved with the case described the attack as “a thug brigade, stalking human prey for entertainment in a manner very reminiscent of Nazi youth in pre-war Germany”.
I did a video about it last year:
It came as a terrible shock to Vancouver’s gay community.
Vancouver is probably one of the most gay-friendly cities in Canada. Gay and lesbian people are visible and active in every sector of society. We have come a long way with gay rights and perhaps we’ve become too comfortable.
Now that most homophobic laws have been overturned, many gay people have become rather apathetic to the gay Liberation Movement. We’re too comfortable.
This murder, the lenient sentence and lack of remorse on the part of the murderers proves that we still have a long way to go.
I want to know what messages went into these guys’ head that led them believe it was okay to murder someone because of their sexual orientation?
Who gave them the notion that it was okay to treat someone with hostility because they are gay?
It could have been homophobic parents, religious propaganda, or the lack of gay positive education in schooling. I am about the same age as Ryan Cran. We might have even been in the same grade. I remember there was virtually no gay content in my high school curriculum. There was no course or program that addressed homophobia.There was a lot of anti-racism programing, thank goodness, but they refused to even mention the existence of gay students and homophobia.
After all these years there is finally a new course, Social Justice 12, that addresses among many other topics, homophobia and gay culture. But there is still opposition.The Abbotsford School District, for example, blocked one of their schools from teaching the course because they felt it “ignores religious discrimination and could leave the impression that religious beliefs and family values are in conflict with social justice.”
For those of you who don’t know, Abbotsford is in the heart of British Columbia’s Bible Belt.
A lot of the opposition to gay rights comes from religious organizations. Last year I did an article on gay people who came out as Christian. There are a lot of affirming, welcoming congregations. But I was absolutely floored by the seething homophobia I encountered with some of these churches.
There are congregations within the Anglican Church, for example, which broke away from the New Westminster Diocese over its support of same-sex blessings. The Bishop gave churches permission to bless same-sex marriages and relationships – but not perform actual marriage ceremonies.
I covered the events at St. John’s Shaughnessy Anglican Church in Vancouver when they split from the Diocese over these issues, and was absolutely floored by the homophobia of the people I spoke with. They seem like nice, honest and educated people but but they made it very clear that they had a strong theological opposition to homosexuality which was reflected in the programs offered by the church – which included an ex-gay group.
They don’t see the push against gay rights as an act of homophobia, but a statement of their faith.
They were all dressed very nice, used pretty sentences and spoke in kind, sincere tones. But their message and actions scare the shit of me.
It’s one thing when some ignorant fuck goes out of their way to harm us, but what the fuck is wrong with society when educated, worldly and intelligent people make such a bold statement against gay rights?
Although this was just one church, I think I was looking at the root cause of a homophobic society.
They were creating an environment in which opposition to gay people and the gay “lifestyle” as such is normalized. It’s not some nasty bigot screaming about faggots burning in hell, but a very polite, Canadian message about the importance of theological doctrine. It’s sanitized, and inoffensive to many good readers of the papers.
But I’ve agonized over this for a long time now, and I don’t think it’s all that clean or polite. It can easily snowball into something much bigger and uglier. When you create a community or society, such as this, where homophobia is acceptable it makes it stokes ignorance, fear and provides an affirming place to those who would harm us.
I have been in communication with some members of this church since, and although they remain steadfast in their beliefs, they condemn gay bashing when I bring it up to them. “That’s awful…” They’ll say. “We don’t support that.”
But what they don’t get is that gay bashing doesn’t just happen. It starts somewhere. You can’t just do and say nothing and hope everyone will not be homophobic fuckwads – you actually have to be proactive.
So, most people will make passing comments about how horrible it is when someone is attacked or murdered because of their sexual orientation, but if they really do feel that way then why don’t they do something to actually prevent it instead of contribution to the cause?