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Murder of Gay Puerto Rican Teen Generates Talk of Equality

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary, Various authors Posted: Nov 21, 2009

Editor's Note: Last weekend Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, a 19-year-old gay teen was found decapitated, partially burned, and mutilated and left by the side of a road in Puerto Rico. Gay activists were outraged when the police officer in charge of the investigation said, Someone like that, who does those kind of things, and goes out in public, knows full well that this might happen to him. Youth Outlook asked young people their reaction to the brutal murder. Here is what they said.

People Shouldn't Live in Fear

My first reaction to this story was "wow!" Not because Jorge was gay or because it was a hate crime, but I was shocked because the police in Puerto Rico said Jorge was victimized because of the type of lifestyle he led. It seemed like the police thought he deserved this treatment because he's gay. The police also said anyone who lives "this type of lifestyle" should know these acts of violence could happen.

Anyone leading any type of lifestyle should not have to deal with people judging him or her. Even worse, they shouldn't have to worry about being killed. If I were gay, I would not care about who looks at me or what people think of me. I would be the same Val that I am now: stronger, cautious, and able to handle my business on a daily basis.

In San Francisco, we have so many gay men and women. We even have transsexuals, transvestites and hermaphrodites. You might not know who those people are if you are closed-minded. If people were more open-minded, it might be because they had a gay alliance at their school, or even had a friend or family member who is gay. These types of relationships are important because they help straight people have opinions about gay-related hate crimes.

But I wont be a hypocrite; I am not really fond of gay people. But I have family members who are gay. I dont disrespect them. I actually respect them for coming out and being true to themselves.

Valerie Klinker, 19

We Are All Human

I think the gay community in Puerto Rico was very disturbed by this incident of violence. It appears Jorge Mercado was murdered because he was gay and very popular in the community. I think Latin America is harsher to people who like the same sex. Look at what happened to Jorge. He did not deserve this type of treatment.

Nobody in my family or close circle of friends has been abused because of who they are or what they have become. Among the people I surround myself with, it doesnt matter who or what you are. Gay people are still well-respected in the community.

This incident of violence is a step back in the fight for equality. Jorge should have been allowed to be whatever he wanted to be.

I think we can make people more tolerant of gay people by showing that we all are the same. We are all human. It may take some time for everyone to accept this, but people are going to be what they want to be. Having more discussions across the world that show it is okay to date the same sex will help people become more understanding and accepting of sexuality.

Kendra Davis, 18

Latino Culture Isn't As Accepting

It was reported that activist Pedro Julio Serrano said the victim deserved his fate because his way of living --being gay-- is not right. It's shocking to hear hate crimes related to sexual orientation are still happening. I mean, damn, this isnt the 1500s. Theres no reason to put someone through that kind of brutal torture because of their sexual orientation. In my eyes, I don't see gay people as any different than straight people. We as people have the right to choose what color we dye our hair and what style is in, so whats so wrong with being able to choose who we want to be with?

Considering all this occurred in Latin America, it's shocking, but at the same time, I can see why it happened. Being Latino and living in a traditional Latino home doesn't make it easy to come out of the closet. At least from what Ive seen and experienced, traditional Latino families dont easily accept things like being gay or even having tattoos and piercings. It's just not right because God didnt speak approvingly about anything of these sort of things, so tattoos, piercing, and being gay are perceived as devil stuff."

Not too many people I know discriminate based on sexual orientation because I live in San Francisco, one of the most diverse cities in America. If people can't accept the fact that there are gay people, how can we accept ourselves, and the things we do everyday?

Vanessa Vega, 19

Hate-Crimes Don't Solve Anything

How Jorge got brutally and violently murdered was kind of wrong. When I first heard that a gay teen got murdered, I thought, "so what?" That happens all the time. But when I read about how he was killed, I thought it wasn't right. I dont think that being violent toward gay people is going to make all the gay people go away. Violence just makes things complicated. Hate-crimes like these just make gay people less open about their sexuality because they get scared about what could happen to them.

Gay people should just stay in their own communities and not go anywhere they aren't wanted. On the other hand, everybody, no matter what their race or sexuality is, should be able to go anywhere they want without being harassed. But that's not always possible.

Ricky Rollins, 19

Related Articles:

Puerto Rican Cop Accused of Bias in Gay Murder Case

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