Will Hispanic Honor Killings, Homophobia Be Our New “Community Standard”?
He told me that he would be absent
for the next couple of weeks as he had to return to
“My brother was killed and I`m
going home to take care of things,” Miguel said.
I thought Miguel was talking about
But after Miguel left, another
student who overheard the conversation interpreted
“things” for me:
going back to kill the guy who shot his brother.”
Mexico is a prime example.
What brought the brief conversation
between my student and me to mind was the infamous 2002
Newark, California transgender murder case involving the
victim, Eddie “Gwen” Araujo, and the two men
finally convicted a few days ago of her second-degree
murder, Jose Merel and Michael Magidson.
A third defendant, Jason Cazares,
is awaiting a retrial pending the outcome of a November
(Note: After Araujo`s death her
Sylvia Guerrero, petitioned the
court to legally change her daughter`s name. The day
after the murder trial ended, the new name became
official. "Edward Araujo Jr." is legally Gwen
Amber Rose Araujo. Accordingly, Araujo will be referred
to as a female in this column.)
Briefly stated, the case involved
incorrigibles now in their early 20s, two of whom
had several incidents of consensual anal sex with Araujo.
When the men found out that Araujo was biologically a
male, they murdered her.
A jury rejected arguments that the
charges should have been manslaughter. Said lawyer and
jury member Max Stern:
community standard is not and cannot be that killing
is something a reasonable person would have done that
Ruled Out, Araujo Juror Says,"by Henry Lee,
San Francisco Chronicle, September 14 2005]
Of course, Stern is correct that
murdering Araujo is not the response of a “reasonable
person.” But I would also argue that, given that the
circumstances that were fueled by intense Hispanic
homophobia, her murder was the sad but completely
Merel, Magidson and Cazares were
known around town as “The
According to Moser,
In the summer of 2002, the object of the Three
Stooges affection was Araujo, whose deceit about her
sexual preferences created a charged atmosphere that
led to her murder.
Merel and Magidson had sex with Araujo multiple
times. But when they learned the truth about Araujo, her
fate was sealed. High-octane Hispanic machismo would not
permit any other resolution.
Merel, when he learned he had been tricked into
having sex with a man, repeatedly wept to his friends:
“I can`t be
One Newark High School senior, Joe Magdalena, told
Moser that while he can relate to the Three Stooges,
could never see myself doing what those boys did. But I
can kind of see from their mind-set, their homophobia,
what they were doing. They thought having sex with Gwen
made them gay and in
their world, that`d basically be death. That`s the
way they look at it."
that`s how most Hispanic countries—Mexico,
Central and South America most particularly—view
homosexuality. Any act that somehow brings a
straight Hispanic male into close contact with a
gay—even inadvertently—is abhorrent.
But for a Hispanic to actually have
homosexual sex with a gay man, even when blatantly
deceived, can only be redeemed by murder.
And murder would only bring partial
Even murder would not silence the
taunts directed at the “Three Stooges.”
Remember Merel`s words: “I can`t
be gay.” But in Latin cultures, if you have had gay
sex, you are gay.
Latin countries have made
some strides toward greater acceptance of gays, but
the going is slow. According to a March 2002
U.S. Department of State report, violence against
homosexuals remains common in Mexico.
And the fact remains that, in a
Hispanic man`s world,
intolerance is learned early and reinforced often.
I had no idea what was being said.
Worse, I couldn`t tell if my classmates were talking
about me, the newly arrived “Americano.”
I decided that, to defend myself,
I had to learn Spanish—and the sooner the better.
Naturally, I learned the dirty
words first. And I immediately learned that the gravest
insult was to hurl any of the dozens of homosexual slurs
that had increasing levels of ugliness: marico,
maricon, maricon de playa, mariconson.
Word of advice: only use them if
you are prepared to fight.
Of course, the U.S. is
not always tolerant toward gays. And we too have our
dictionary of homophobic words.
And the Hispanic members of my own
family—in-laws and nephews—are as guilty as anyone.
Believe me—the U.S., while not
perfect, is more accepting by several light years than
our neighbors to the south.
Whose “community standard” will prevail?
Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.