Think seeing a lot of red equal signs is powerful? Try looking at images of soldiers brutally beating a gay kid. Talking about the horrific acts is one thing, but seeing them is a far more powerful thing that even the most distracted among us cannot avoid.
Before Jason Collins revealed that he is gay, I suppose I'd never really pondered the amount of courage it takes, even in this day and age, to come out of the closet. And it does take more than a fair amount.
When we excuse homophobia as a matter of opinion instead of treating it as a destructive social illness, we invite fear to explode into violence. How often are the perpetrators of hate crimes discovered to be self-loathing? Valued individuals do not strike out against strangers.
Although the increasing visibility of LGBT people and gains in equality may be associated with short-term rises in homophobic violence, these changes are merely triggers. We must move beyond superficial and individualistic analyses of such heinous events and target their root causes.
I finally saw a map depicting the last six instances of gay-targeting hate crimes in Manhattan since April 1. Young men beaten into unconsciousness. Killed. All in places that I've considered part of my home, or my neighborhood, or where I've met friends time and time again.