Friday, November 18, 2005

Is sexual orientation taboo in the media?

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From the Washington Blade: Media closet? Sexual orientation of crime victims often ignored even when relevant By PHIL LaPADULA | Nov 18, 8:17 PM After gay accountant Richard Shoemaker was murdered in September, his ex-boyfriend, Karl Harring, reminisced about the couple’s 17 years together in an interview with this paper. Harring also disclosed that he and Shoemaker were planning to get back together and that Shoemaker was in the process of breaking up with Matthew Hicks, the young man who was later charged with killing Shoemaker. But anyone following the story in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel would not have known any of the personal, gay details about Shoemaker’s relationship with either Hicks or Harring. In fact, they probably would not have known that Shoemaker was gay since that fact is never mentioned in three stories the Sun-Sentinel published on the murder, from the time Shoemaker’s body was discovered buried in the back yard of his Fort Lauderdale home through Hicks’ arrest for the crime. During that period, a Sun-Sentinel reporter even interviewed Harring for a story the paper published Sept. 23. But in that piece, Harring was identified only as “a longtime friend” of Shoemaker’s. After Hicks was arrested for the crime in Ohio, the Sun-Sentinel headline read, “Roommate charged in Slaying.” Again no mention of Shoemaker’s romantic relationship with his alleged killer or of Shoemaker’s sexual orientation. Shoemaker’s nephew confirmed that his uncle was openly gay in an interview with the Express, and Shoemaker was known to advertise his accounting business in local gay publications. To read the full article click here