THE BLOG
08/17/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

New Twist in Bisexual Sailor's Murder -- Victim's Aunt Says Suspect Feared Being Outed

The alleged complications in this case underscore the danger of: 1) the closet, 2) that DADT reinforces the closet and foments fear of being shoved out of it to a deadly level, and 3) the military engages in secrecy because of the homophobia that instituted Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the first place.. (Dallas Voice):

The aunt of August Provost, a bisexual Navy seaman from Houston found murdered at Camp Pendleton last month, told Dallas Voice this week that the family has received information suggesting that her nephew’s killer is a gay sailor who somehow feared being outed by Provost.

Rose Roy, of Beaumont, the sister of Provost’s father, said in a phone interview Tuesday, July 14 that she’s “not at liberty” to identify the source who provided the information to the family. But Roy said the source told the family Provost had a heated argument with the suspect a week before his murder, and that the sailor now being held as a person of interest by the Navy has a history of mental illness.

“This guy went the extra mile to make sure that my nephew would never be able to speak about his [the killer’s] sexuality,” Roy said. “My nephew died for reasons other than what the military is saying.”

If this is the case, then it's not a hate crime, as the military asserts, but the inquiries by a member of Congress for clarity on the matter are going unanswered.

“What I know about the murder is what the Navy so far has told us, which is not very much,” [U.S. Rep. Bob] Filner told Dallas Voice. “I think they ought to be far more open and far more in detail. They keep saying they know it’s not a hate crime, but they don’t give me enough information for me to agree with that or not. If they don’t do it right, we will have an independent congressional inquiry. There are several of us in Congress who are calling for that, and we’ll figure out a way to do it if we need to.”

What has been particularly troubling is Time magazine's framing of it. Mark Thompson, in the article "Gays in the Military: Does a Sailor's Murder Signal Deeper Problems?," muses that the murder of Seaman Provost is a some sort of sign that the rank-and-file heterosexuals in the military are not ready to serve with openly gay and lesbian colleagues.

Even as Pentagon lawyers begin trying to ease the "Don't ask, don't tell" prohibition on gays serving openly in the U.S. military, the murder last week of an apparently gay sailor at California's Camp Pendleton has raised new questions over the readiness of the armed forces to accept openly homosexual personnel.

Seaman August Provost of Houston was shot and killed while standing nighttime guard at his base on June 30. His body was found at about 3 a.m. after his guard shack had been torched, apparently to destroy evidence surrounding his slaying, according to Navy officials. Provost was gay, according to his family, gay activists and his MySpace page, and had reportedly "come out" to some of his Navy colleagues. Two California Democratic members of Congress, Susan Davis and Bob Filner, have asked the military to investigate whether Provost's sexual orientation was the reason for his murder. Local gay activists have also asked for such a probe, and are planning a candlelight vigil outside Camp Pendleton's gates this Friday, several hours after memorial services for Provost are to be held in Texas.

...The Navy has said there is no indication that the 28-year-old sailor was the target of a hate crime, but officials also decline to specify a suspected motive. "As it stands right now, we have no indication that there is any tie to what may or may not have been his sexuality," a senior Navy officer in San Diego said Monday afternoon. This officer expressed frustration with blog and media reports saying Provost had been brutalized -- in addition to being shot. "He did suffer gunshot wounds, and there was a fire in a pretty clear attempt to destroy evidence," he said. "But he was not bound, he was not gagged and he was not mutilated." At least two suspects -- both sailors -- have been questioned. One remains in custody and is expected to be charged.

This is madness. There are many stories of gay and lesbian servicemembers already serving openly, with their colleagues and commanding officers ignoring DADT. The problem with the Provost murder is not his sexual orientation, but the fact that the military may have someone with extreme homicidal tendencies within its ranks that directed them at Provost. After all, the Pentagon has allowed the number of felons, gang members and white supremacists to make its recruiting numbers; it doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that this would cause problem, if not in this specific case, other ones. And the murder victim's sexual orientation is not a reason to keep gays and lesbians from serving, it's a matter of prosecuting those who harass, maim and kill.

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