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Teen Executed by Fellow Gang Members for Being Gay

A teen who was a member of the Family Swans (a subset of the Bloods gang) was killed by fellow gang members after they discovered he was gay, according to police in Baltimore:

Blood"A neighbor told police that Parrish left his parents' home with another young man and walked toward the woods. About a minute later, the witness and other neighbors heard someone yelling and pleading, 'Stop! Why are you doing this to me? I didn't do anything!' according to court documents...On the day before Parrish's death, several members of the gang met at his home, according to charging documents. There, Hollis and Flythe discussed finding what they believed to be 'gay' text messages on Parrish's cell phone. Angered by the messages and a photograph they found, they worried that their Bloods group would appear weak to others if word got out that they had a gay member, according to court records. 'As a result, they decided that Steven Parrish 'had to go,'' police wrote in charging documents. 'There was no date or time discussed for the killing, but it was made very clear to all those present that Parrish was going to be killed.' Flythe later told his fellow gang members that he and Hollis confronted Parrish, who did not deny that the messages were 'gay' in nature, according to court records. Flythe also told his associates that they stabbed and hit the victim before stomping on his neck, according to charging documents. A red bandanna was placed over Parrish's face and he was left in the woods."

Parrish was found to have bruises, over 50 superficial knife wounds, and a deep stab wound to the chest. Steven Hollis, 18, of Randallstown and Juan Flythe, 17, of West Baltimore have been charged with first degree murder and are being held without bail.

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  1. As long as mindless violence and gangsterism is glorified in our entertainment, and as long as homophobia continues to permeate popular music, we will see atrocities like this. The seriously pathological group dynamic in which the murder occurred has its etiology in "permissible hatred", the idea that it's acceptable to hate gays.

    As others have cogently noted here, the severe conditions in which the gang members grew up have a role to play in making them killers. However, this does not remove the onus of responsibility for their actions from them. Even at their young age, the murderers have shown themselves unfit to walk freely among us. Nevertheless, I cannot fathom that somewhere, at some time in their lives, Parrish's killers weren't enculturated in "permissible hatred". The larger community needs to examine the attitudes which helped to make the murder possible, and that very definitely includes the people in charge...

    Posted by: Nathan James | Aug 19, 2008 10:44:42 PM


  2. As long as mindless violence and gangsterism is glorified in our entertainment, and as long as homophobia continues to permeate popular music, we will see atrocities like this. The seriously pathological group dynamic in which the murder occurred has its etiology in "permissible hatred", the idea that it's acceptable to hate gays.

    As others have cogently noted here, the severe conditions in which the gang members grew up have a role to play in making them killers. However, this does not remove the onus of responsibility for their actions from them. Even at their young age, the murderers have shown themselves unfit to walk freely among us. Nevertheless, I cannot fathom that somewhere, at some time in their lives, Parrish's killers weren't enculturated in "permissible hatred". The larger community needs to examine the attitudes which helped to make the murder possible, and that very definitely includes the people in charge...

    Posted by: Nathan James | Aug 19, 2008 10:46:25 PM


  3. Actually, I looked through 4 or 5 articles and they all say that people are virtually the same when polled on LGBT questions - REGARDLESS OF RACE.

    My personal experience is that black people I've known have been far more homophobic... at least in public. I wonder if it's just that homophobia is more visible, rather than common, among African-Americans? Jamaican artists screaming about killing batty boys while Minnesotan starlets are twittering on about all things pink and fluffy is only a difference in emphasis or perception, not necessarily feelings in a community. A lot of white people buy homophobic music.

    And it's really time to end the "should know better" meme. Gays should know better about racism and misogyny but we don't. Lots of homos hate women and gay Asians. I've had Chinese friends in tears with some of the stuff people say to them online and even to their faces.

    Maybe the black guys could help me out on this one, but my black friends all say they get pretty tired of the stereotypes thrown on them by white guys - especially the "chocolate lovers" who think that because they've had a series of black lovers they can call anyone the N word and get excused. Rot.

    Posted by: McMan | Aug 19, 2008 10:49:20 PM


  4. Lightinglad, your history is well known on this site. *dismissed*

    I don't think anyone is saying that homophobia doesn't exist in the black community. Obviously it does, but the extent is overblown and THAT is what is coming from prejudice. Blacks may be second to white evangelicals (and I think white evangelicals out number blacks anyway) in their "disapproval" of homosexuality, but it doesn't seem to translate into widespread support for the draconian laws that white evangelicals incessantly push for.

    And I agree with Nick - the only people I've ever known who've been completely disowned by their families have been white. All the black gays I've known still have relationship with their families - some strained, most not. I dunno, but that may be a more important barometer of how black people deal with homosexuality even if many don't "agree" with it.

    Posted by: Matthew | Aug 19, 2008 11:00:44 PM


  5. I don't have anything substantive to add to what FOOCHY said, but I was scanning these comments waiting for someone to say it, and think it's important when there's such ignorance and extreme prejudice expressed here to say I'm glad FOOCHY spoke up. Thanks to others who have or will echo what FOOCHY said.

    Posted by: RDK | Aug 19, 2008 11:04:06 PM


  6. Race actually isn't a particularly strong indicator of political position on gay rights issues. Religious affiliation, for instance, is much more strongly correlated.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-stewart14-2008aug14,0,7258583.story

    I would think that gang culture is the main issue, not blackness.

    Posted by: Sportin' Life | Aug 20, 2008 12:08:04 AM


  7. It's cut off in my browser. That url ends in .story, not .s

    Posted by: Sportin' Life | Aug 20, 2008 12:10:07 AM


  8. Foochy's comment is a mixed bag, in my opinion, RDK. It's absolutely true that systematic prejudice and degradation are part of our society, and we all have a moral responsibility to fight it. But that doesn't properly translate--at least not for me--into sympathy for a fifteen year old who goes around stabbing people. Let him rot. There are plenty of genuinely good kids who need and deserve a better chance at their dreams, and permanently removing the violent thugs from their midst is one way to help them out.

    Posted by: Sportin' Life | Aug 20, 2008 12:21:12 AM


  9. Please, don't anyone make excuses for these fucking wastes of human life by saying shit like "they are a product of their environment."
    Foochy and Nick, however do you manage to carry around that huge chip on your shoulder? Put it down and get a life already. And Matthew, you need to get out more - all of my black openly gay friends have been disowned by their families - that, or constantly told they are sinning and going to hell every time they go to their moms. The rest I know are on the DL. It has a lot to do with their relationship with their churches. They listen to their pastors' crap waaaaay too much.

    Jason has a very good and valid point. To deny it is to just bury your head in some PC bullshit.

    Posted by: Shane | Aug 20, 2008 7:54:59 AM


  10. Violence carried out by gangs or any other organized group should carry a stiffer penalty just like hate crimes. We must do more to prevent gangs.

    Posted by: Dan B | Aug 20, 2008 9:11:43 AM


  11. You are all hacking at the branches and ignoring the root. Religion is the poison running through the veins of this country.

    Posted by: JX | Aug 20, 2008 10:04:44 AM


  12. Homophobia is widely institutionalized in the black community, especially in black churches. Anyone who has been involved with events such as the Black Church Week of Prayer for people with HIV/AIDS knows what an uphill battle it is to get churches to deal with their homophobia. Are they worse than white churches in that respect? Yes, I think so. If you perceive that to be a racist statement, then sue me.

    I have black friends who are terrified of coming out because they know their religious families would disown them. They also do not want to be disowned by their churches, which they have emotional attachments to in spite of institutionalized homophobia.

    Posted by: WAYNEINKC | Aug 20, 2008 11:15:35 AM


  13. Guys, no one community has a monopoly on homophobia. My best friend was pretty badly beaten by an Asian gang in San Francisco (of all places!) for being gay. To say stuff like "blacks are more homophobic" does not even make since, and to me, does seem to fit the definition of prejudice i.e., prejudging.

    I think the belief of blacks as "supreme homophobes" comes from the fact that the black underclass is usually used or thought of as representative of the entire "black community." Blacks do not get the benefit of individuality. And everyone knows that the less educated and less "cultured" one is the more likely it is that religion will be a major life component, and the more religious one is the more resistant to homosexuality. So, large "representative" (homophobic) black underclass = "Those blacks sure hate gays!"

    However, this mode of thinking obviously does not apply to whites. I highly doubt you are going to get a red carpet rolled out on a trip to W. Virginia or Kentucky, but the homophobia of so many whites somehow never seems to "bubble up" to represent whites at large the way it does with blacks. Hmmm, wonder why? Ahh, I know. Prejudice. This is not necessarily an indictment of "racism.” I do hope people can figure out the difference between prejudice and racism.

    Posted by: Geoff | Aug 20, 2008 11:44:30 AM


  14. Re: Blacks are more homophobic
    Yeah, that's why they're so much hotter than white guys.

    Posted by: Bartleby Scrivener | Aug 20, 2008 12:23:28 PM


  15. All this argument about race? How about looking at something more realistic like why are only two of the "gang" members being charged? Did not the entire "gang" minus the victim agree to the "killing" of one of their own? Therefore all who were present, and aware, should be charged with the murder and not only two persons. Regardless of race, creed or anything else, a gang is still a gang. Society has allowed gangs to become the evil it has due to ignoring the problems. Once upon a time Gangs were actualy groups of decent people doing good. Society has failed, and will continue to fail so long as it does not punish ALL who are involved in wrong doings. They are all responsible, not just two.

    Posted by: Bear | Aug 21, 2008 10:36:39 PM


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