No, thankfully not a suicide, but damn near close to a homicide.
Yes, the man was gay.
From the New York Times:
He was told there was a party at a brick house on Osborne Place, a quiet block set on a steep hill in the Bronx. He showed up last Sunday night as instructed, with plenty of cans of malt liquor. What he walked into was not a party at all, but a night of torture — he was sodomized, burned and whipped.
All punishment, the police said Friday, for being gay.
There were nine attackers, ranging from 16 to 23 years old and calling themselves the Latin King Goonies, the police said. Before setting upon their 30-year-old victim, they had snatched up two teenage boys whom they beat, the police said — until the boys — one of whom was sodomized with a plunger — admitted to having had sex with the man.
The attackers forced the man to strip to his underwear and tied him to a chair, the police said. One of the teenage victims was still there, and the "Goonies" ordered him to attack the man. The teenager hit him in the face and burned him with a cigarette on his nipple and penis as the others jeered and shouted gay slurs, the police said. Then the attackers whipped the man with a chain and sodomized him with a small baseball bat.
This attack continues a recent and extremely disturbing pattern of harassment, abuse, and violence against gay men and women across the nation. More likely, it's more that these stories have been broadcast in the news with much greater frequency, as there are instances of abuse and violence against gay people everyday in America.
The spying, harassment, and emotional torture directed toward Tyler Clementi hits particularly close to home for two reasons. One, I frequently, and most often proudly, acknowledge that I graduated from Rutgers University in Spring 2009. I "bleed Scarlet" as we say, and I love my alma mater dearly. But devastating events like the one that took place "On the Banks" a few weeks ago make me extremely embarrassed and ashamed of my undergraduate institution. And two, I knew Tyler's family.
For me, this extremely disturbing trend feels eerily similar to the rise of the racial Tea Party epithets we started hearing during the heated healthcare reform debate in the summer of 2009. They slowly crept from under the radar until now, where their racist statements are simply accepted as part of their campaign platforms and mission statements. No dog whistles needed here.
And as we enter fall of 2010, I am concerned about these attacks and instances of abuse becoming even more prevalent. Much can be pondered about the trendlines moving in our direction in regard to support for gay marriage, repealing DADT, passing ENDA, etc., but like any pending relic movement of history, the last throes are perhaps the most dangerous.