A tragic death I can’t talk about

One of my acquaintances here in Kiev was murdered last week. He had invited some new acquaintances into his flat and they killed him.

As an American, I can say to other Americans that he was obviously gay. He had every mannerism that one associates with being gay.

He displayed an array of the better qualities for which gays are known.  He was intelligent, compassionate, a good speaker, a reliable volunteer in a volunteer organization, and all around good company.

But… being a gay male frequently entails seeking many casual sex partners, and that in turn brings risks, among them disease and violence.

I can’t offer this observation to my Ukrainian friends because homosexuality is not something you talk about here.  They would think I was defaming his memory.  My wife was shocked that I should imagine that that he was gay. The victim kept it to himself.

It was certainly obvious, I would think to any foreigner who is here, and anybody who had much experience in the West, what his situation was. But he was in the closet, as almost all gays here are.

Is this a bad thing? I assume that had he been out of the closet we might have had a bit less of his company. Gays in the United States seem to have retreated in more into their own worlds, comfortable being with each other most of the time. There it is more than a subculture; it’s a dominant culture, on the march. Gays are lionized on TV shows, in the media and everyplace else. Here, on the other hand, gays seem to find it best to act just about like everybody else.

Being just like everybody else means only not flaunting their sex lives. Those of us who are married quietly go about being married. The assumption is that we sleep with our wives, but how and when is strictly a private matter. Same with people who are in long-term relationships, and singles. You don’t ask and they generally don’t tell. So this victim was living in a world similar to that that the gays had lived in when I was a kid, and that all of us heterosexuals live in today, in which sex lives remain generally private.

I doubt that he would’ve been better protected had he been out. I don’t think that the police would have vastly more sympathy; I don’t notice that they do much of anywhere. I am sure that the victim knew the dangers that come with inviting strangers into your house. When I was a young man hitchhiking in California, 50 some years ago, I was fairly often picked up by gays and I was rather struck by the risks that they took inviting me into their house. If I had been a different sort of person the outcome could’ve been difficult for them. Risk is part and parcel of their lifestyle, a fact of which they are acutely aware.

The reasons why people are the way they are hard to fathom. I’m quite sure that homosexuality is a choice for some people, but I’m equally sure that it was not whatsoever for this young man. It was in every fiber of his being.

Homosexuality is a phenomenon that might be explained but not a problem begging to be solved. Rather, my observation is that we probably induce more problems than we resolve by a bringing it to the surface the way the West has done. Let’s let sleeping dogs lie, and take a moment to remember a man who was accepted by all for just what he was: a nice guy.

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One thought on “A tragic death I can’t talk about

  1. A thoughtful and touching essay—and a brilliant final paragraph. I always thought the advice attributed to Mrs. Campbell made the most sense—viz., “It doesn’t make any difference what you do in the bedroom as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.”

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